RIAA’s New Policy Isn’t About Deterrence, It’s About Sidestepping Due Process: “On Friday, the RIAA announced its plan to end their campaign of suing thousands of alleged downloaders; instead, it has negotiated with ISPs to disconnect subscribers who the RIAA identify as repeat infringers. From what little is known about the system, ISPs would pass along warning emails to the customers the RIAA claims are downloading copyrighted material. Following 2-3 warnings, subscribers would have their connection terminated.
Speaking to CNET on Friday, RIAA President Cary Sherman said that the tactical change was an attempt to deter would-be infringers. ‘The idea is to create deterrents. This deters people from engaging in illegal behavior.’ This is either misleading or mistaken, if the claim is that warning emails and the threat of having to switch ISPs is more of a deterrent than an incredibly expensive lawsuit. Unless the RIAA can convince ISPs to flood their subscribers with warning emails early and often, more people are likely to hear about the end of lawsuits and stop fearing potentially costly litigation or settlement.
The more likely reason for the change in approach is that the RIAA recognizes that the lawsuit approach has been an abject failure. Not only does it alienate fans, it is costly and rests on shoddy legal theories. As courts have begun to realize that IP addresses aren’t solid evidence and that ‘making available’ doesn’t constitute infringement, the RIAA has been forced to realize that their goals don’t align with thoughtful justice. So, what’s a dying industry to do? Obviously, cut out those pesky judges and their principles of due process. Although Cary Sherman insists the wrongly accused will ‘have a place to go and make their complaint,’ the lack of specificity is as worrying as the RIAA’s previous mistakes concerning their lawsuits.