In a move clearly meant to say, “we’re still watching and we will still kick your ass and take your money if we feel like it,” the RIAA has filed new lawsuits against 532 alleged file sharers:
- The recording industry on Wednesday sued 532 computer users it said were illegally distributing songs over the Internet, the first lawsuits since a federal appeals court blocked the use of special copyright subpoenas to identify those being targeted.
The action represents the largest number of lawsuits filed at one time since the trade group for the largest music labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, launched its legal campaign last summer to cripple Internet music piracy.
Music lawyers filed the newest cases against “John Doe” defendants – identified only by their numeric Internet protocol addresses – and expected to work through the courts to learn their names and where they live. All the defendants were customers of one of four Internet providers.
The 532 new defendants represent a tiny fraction of the estimated tens of millions of U.S. computer users who regularly download music illegally across the Internet, but the recording association described each one as a “major offender,” distributing an average of more than 800 songs online. Each defendant faces potential civil penalties or settlements that could cost them thousands of dollars.
The resumed legal campaign was intended to discourage music fans emboldened by last month’s federal appeals court decision, which dramatically increased the cost and effort to track computer users swapping songs online and sue them.
“Our campaign against illegal file sharers is not missing a beat,” said Cary Sherman, president of the recording association. “The message to illegal file sharers should be as clear as ever.”
….The RIAA said that after its lawyers discover the identity of each defendant, they will contact each person to negotiate a financial settlement before amending the lawsuit to formally name the defendant and, if necessary, transfer the case to the proper courthouse. Settlements in previous cases have averaged $3,000 each.
Verizon had successfully challenged the industry’s use of copyright subpoenas, one of its most effective tools to track illegal downloaders. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last month that the recording industry can’t use the subpoenas to force Internet providers to identify music downloaders without filing a lawsuit. [AP]
As the process has become much more expensive in light of the Verizon decision, I expect these suits to peter off – this action is more a reminder than anything else, although that is of no comfort to the sued, I’m sure. With the process so up in the air, I hope people don’t just automatifcally settle, although I also realize it’s much cheaper to pay the blackmail money than to fight it in court. That’s a real problem with our judicial system.
Kevin Doran has some very cogent thoughts:
- And all this risk-taking at a time when the record industry is trying to ride the momentum of a holiday recovery in order to convince those same people and their millions of consumer peers that they should patronize the labels’ blossoming etail outlets? There is an intellectual and emotional disconnect with the real world that is explicable only as the mindset of a rampaging bully clouded by rage and self-loathing, willing to pull down its own house just for spite.
There’ll be lots to talk about at Senator Coleman’s upcoming P2P Summit.
Oh? – the lawsuits were the RIAA’s way of signalling that the major labels won’t negotiate a market solution no matter what the US government wants?
Well, OK, then.
Tell us, Mssrs. Sherman and Bainwol, why are all those vendored downloads priced the same?