RIAA Tries To Make Deals With ISPs To Hound Customers Into Settling Earlier
from the how-nice-of-them dept
When the RIAA first kicked off its backwards-thinking plan to sue music fans who were engaged in unauthorized file sharing, it did so by just getting court clerks to send subpoenas to ISPs demanding info on who controlled specific IP addresses. There were concerns about whether or not it was fair for the RIAA to do so without filing a real lawsuit and having a judge approve the subpoenas. Eventually, Verizon went to court to fight the RIAA on this and won. If the RIAA still wanted info on users, it needed to file “John Doe” lawsuits and then subpoena the info. This is exactly what the RIAA has been doing — but it’s been expensive, and the number of mistake lawsuits is beginning to get costly. So it appears that the RIAA is now moving on to plan B. Ray Beckerman, a lawyer fighting against the RIAA on some of these lawsuits has received a leaked letter that some RIAA-associated lawyers have been sending to ISPs to try to get them to cooperate and get users to pay settlement fines before the RIAA files lawsuits.
The letter says that the RIAA will be starting a new program that will let ISP subscribers settle early (at reduced rates!) if the ISP agrees to hold onto its log files for at least 180 days. Many ISPs don’t keep the data that long as there’s no good business reason to do so (though, the US government may force them to before too long). Basically, this is just an attempt by the RIAA to get ISPs to hang onto more info for the RIAA’s sake — and to try to have ISPs put pressure on subscribers to just pay up, rather than go to court where it can be pointed out just how flimsy the evidence is. Oddly, it also seems to be blaming the ISPs for all of the embarrassing mistakes the RIAA has made in its lawsuits lately — and asking that they please stop identifying the wrong customers. Of course, what many people don’t remember is that this isn’t the first time the RIAA has tried this. Back in 2004, soon after the RIAA lost to Verizon, it tried a similar tactic of getting ISPs to agree to hand over info on their subscribers without a subpoena — but most ISPs realized that there was no good reason to do so. Hopefully, the past few years haven’t changed the minds of ISP execs. If not, it seems like some ISPs are likely to get some bad publicity once it comes out that they’ve rolled over for the RIAA.