RIAA Unleashes A New Round Of Copyright Infringment Lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America has had to change their strategy a bit in the fight against illegal file sharing, but that doesn't mean they've slowed down at all. Yesterday, the RIAA filed 532 individual copyright infringement lawsuits against users who've illegally distributed music on P2P networks. According to Mi2n.com, this new round of lawsuits employs the "John Doe" process, which is used to sue defendants whose names are unknown. Previously the RIAA were serving ISPs with subpoenas asking them to turn over the names of targeted users prior to filing a lawsuit. Now however, the RIAA must file the lawsuit first, identifying defendants by their IP addresses only. Then, after the lawsuit is filed, labels can subpoena the info necessary to identify the defendant by name. This change, which CNN experts say will be more expensive for the RIAA, is a result of a decision by a federal appeals court ruling which states the information subpoena process allowed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act cannot be used in infringement cases involving peer-to-peer networks.

The RIAA is apparently not worried about this extra step in the process. "Our campaign against illegal file sharers is not missing a beat," said Cary Sherman, President, RIAA. "The message to illegal file sharers should be as clear as ever - we can and will continue to bring lawsuits on a regular basis against those who illegally distribute copyrighted music."

"Continuing this education and enforcement campaign is critical to fostering an environment where both legal online music services and traditional retail outlets can flourish," added Sherman. "Virtually every week, we see evidence that the music community's anti-piracy program is having its intended effect. Awareness and legal downloads are up, while many analysts are finding that file sharing is down."

The Electronic Frontier Federation, a non-profit organization whose motto is "defending freedom in the digital world," had this to say about the RIAA's new approach. "While it's an improvement that the record indsutry now has to play by the same rules as everyone else who goes into court, they are still heading in the wrong direction," noted Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "There is a better way. The recording industry should be giving America's millions of filesharers the same deal that radio stations have had for decades: pay a fair fee, play whatever you want on whatever software works best for you."

RIAA Unleashes A New Round Of Copyright Infringment Lawsuits