Michael Geist points us to Brad Templeton's email on the Interesting People mailing list, describing how the RIAA has embraced "spamigation," which he defines as the automated process of sending out mass lawsuits for those it accuses of copyright infringement. While the rest of his description isn't new, it is a concise explanation of how the process works, quite similar to DirecTV's automated suing of people from a list they got, where they made it clear to those who were being sued that it was cheaper to pay up the fine that to contest it in court, even if they were innocent. Eventually, DirecTV was sued for racketeering and the courts forced them to stop the spamigation campaign (though, we thought "extortion" campaign was more fitting). The RIAA has been similarly charged with racketeering a few times for its lawsuits -- but so far those cases haven't gone very far. In the meantime, Cory Doctorow suggests that this is the last profitable business model for the music industry -- which is a bit of hyperbole. It may very well be the last profitable business model of the current recording industry run by the RIAA, but these lawsuits will eventually be seen as a backwards blip in the progress of the industry. While the practice of automating mass lawsuit filings against totally unrelated plaintiffs is still seen as legal, eventually the RIAA will be forced to stop. It won't be soon after that people begin to realize that there are business models that work well and are profitable -- without treating everyone as if they were a criminal.
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