RIAA's Draconian Legal Action

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The RIAA changes course and targets ALL P2P users with music files.

ATT has stated that they will not cut off service based on RIAA warnings as stated by Jim Cicconi, ATT Senior Executive VP for External and Legislative Affairs, below:

“What we do is send notices and keep track of violations and IP addresses… It’s our view that any stronger action has got to rest with the copyright owner…That’s what the courts are there for.”

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America, the lobbying group representing the four largest recording companies) apparently considers ATT’s appraoch to be too weak to be an effective deterrent.  The RIAA  has decided to “take the gloves off” and target ALL P2P users with music files for legal action. 

As explained by RIAA spokesperson Radcliffe T. Fink:

“The way the new enforcement system will work is that the RIAA will alert an ISP that a customer appears to be file sharing. The ISP will then notify the person that he or she appears to be file sharing and will be subject to legal action by the copyright owner. The customer will have the option to pay a $3,000 fine immediateley or await delivery of a subpoena to appear in court.”

The RIAA will issue the following notice through the ISP:

“Sir or Madam:

I am contacting you on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA) and its member music companies. The RIAA is a trade association whose member companies create, manufacture, and distribute approximately ninety (90) percent of all legitimate music sold in the United States.

We have found that you are infringing sound recording copyrights by downloading copyrighted music through a peer to peer application. We have attached below the details of the infringing activity.

We have a good faith belief that this activity is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. We believe it is in everyone’s interest for music consumers to be better educated about the copyright law and ways to legally enjoy music online. The major record companies have actively licensed their music to dozens of innovative services where fans can go to listen to and/or purchase their favorite songs. A list of many of these services is available at www.musicunited.org.

To protect the legitmate rights of the copyright owner, we are instituting legal action on behalf of the copyright owner to seek legal redress of this greviance in court. You will receive shortly a subpoena to appear in your local court to address this action.

It should be made clear by this letter that downloading and distributing copyrighted songs via peer to peer networks is not an anonymous activity. Not only is distributing copyrighted works on a peer to peer network a public activity visible by other users on that network, an historic 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirmed the unmistakable unlawfulness of uploading and downloading copyrighted works. The website www.musicunited.org contains valuable information about what is legal and what is not when it comes to copying music.

This letter allows our members to recover or claim relief for damages incurred by this illegal activity, and it asserts the right to bring legal action against you for engaging in music theft. We assert that the information in this notice is accurate, based upon the data available to us. Under penalty of perjury, we submit that the RIAA is authorized to act on behalf of its member companies in matters involving the infringement of their sound recordings, including enforcing their copyrights and common law rights on the Internet.

However, in the interests of fairness, we give you the right to dismiss this action without prejudice by paying a $3,000 fine to the RIAA within two weeks of receipt of this notice. We are making this offer to avoid protracted legal expenses by you in this matter. This offer will expire after 14 calendar days and will not be re-offered.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at XXXXXX@riaa.com, via telephone at *Phone Number*, or via mail at RIAA, 1025 F Street, NW, 10th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20004. Please reference *Case ID* in any response or communication regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

RIAA”

In contrast to enforcement actions that targeted a few individuals for high-profile fines, we are now seeing the RIAA taking draconian measures against ALL P2P users who have music files  on their PC, working on the presumption that you’re guilty by merely having music files and P2P activity. This action is so fraught with legal issues that it boggles the mind.

The implications for infringements in individual liberties is so severe that the Attorneys General of several states have indicated they will move to block this action. Meanwhile the RIAA’s rationale for pursuing this action banks on the individual’s reluctance to pursue legal remedies on court. According to Mr. Fink:

“We have seen that in almost all instances copyright offenders will pay the fine rather than pursue legal remedies by hiring a lawyer, which will run up the meter very quickly and exceed the cost of the fine we are offering. We estimate there are about 20 million P2P users just in the United States alone, and that this represents an estimated $60 billion payment to RIAA copyright holders. Considering this potential, the RIAA feels aggressive, comprehensive legal actions to stick it to these damn kids dowloading music are a good thing.”

The RIAA indicated that they have engaged the legal firm of Gennery, Ennis, Solomon, Tancredi, Antonowicz, Popola and Orrin to act as the lead legal firm to initiate legal actions. GESTAPO is a large litigator for personal injury suits in Boston and will farm out most of the local legal activity to similar ambulance-chasing shysters.

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