p2pnet.net news:- The RIAA is launching its own p2p site. But not because it’s owners, Warner Music (US), EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France) and Sony BMG (Japan and Germany), have suddenly seen the stupidity of trying to sue their own customers into buying ‘product’.
To the contrary, http://www.p2plawsuits.com/ (as it’ll be) represents an escalation in the RIAA extortion scheme, a move to streamline the process so the Big 4 can add more victims’ scalps to their belts, faster, lending credence to their false claims that the sue ‘em all campaign is stemming the swelling tides of people who are logging onto the p2p networks every minute of every day.
The Big 4 are now making a $1,000 per settlement discount offer to victims who agree to settle, to in effect admit they’re guilty of the RIAA’s charges, before a civil lawsuit is actually lodged.
It’s conservatively estimated that more than 60 million Americans have shared with each other online. Of those, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has managed to ‘target’ (a favourite word) a pitiful few, between 19,000 and 20,000, many of them young children. And it’s being forced to fight every step of the way to turn even those into PR-useable statistics to ‘prove’ the so-called anti-file sharing war is being won.
However, in reality, individuals stand as much chance of being identified by the RIAA as they do of being struck by lightning, as Dr Markus Giesler points out in his Theory of Collective Consumer Risk.
The risk tied to file-sharing is almost zero despite entertainment industry claims to the contrary, he says.
And all the while, the numbers of file sharers not only in the US, but around the world, are steadily growing, not decreasing.
It’s an uphill battle for the multi-billion-dollar labels as they claim they’re being “devastated” and “decimated,” to use two more of their favourite words, by p2p file sharing. And it’s getting steeper as more and more Santangelos, Andersens, Lindors, Barkers and others refuse to “settle” for something they didn’t do.
Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG say files shared equal sales lost, but this claim has again been proven to be disingenuous in an authoritative paper from two American researchers in The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis, just published in the Journal of Political Economy, 2007.
Meanwhile, the RIAA is contacting ISPs by letter, says Recording Industry vs The People. The aim is to get the Internet Service Providers to in effect follow the Big 4′s bizarre policy of working against their own customers, the very people upon whom both literally depend for their survival and livelihoods.
Here’s the letter:
As you know, over the last few years, the RIAA has been actively protecting the copyrights of its members on peer-to-peer networks by filing suits against infringers. The purpose of this letter is threefold: 1) to share xxx some of the feedback we have heard from consumers about communications with their ISPs; 2) to ask you to forward settlement offers from us to targeted users so that they have an opportunity for an early decreased settlement amount; 3) to clarify that we will subpoena slightly different information going forward than we requested in the past nbecause of ISP confusion. This letter is a direct result of he communications we have had with your subscribers about our enforcement program, and we hope will address some of the issues theyhave raised.
A little background
Since 2004, our members have been fling Doe lawsuits against the infringers we find on peer-to-peer networks. We have obtained the identities of defendants through expedited discovery in the form of subpoenas served on internet service providers like yourself, asking that you identify the internet subscriber assigned that IP address at the particular time and ate at issue.
In the past, we have provided an early preservation notice to you by email., You may have noticed a recent decline in such notices. We anticipate that we will begin providing such notices to you again soon and that our members will follow such notices with new Doe lawsuits and subpoenas.
Holme Roberts & Owen LLP will continue to serve as our national coordinating counsel for these cases. Your primary contact there,m Katheryn Coggon, will also continue to serve in that role. SHould you have any questions about the program r this letter, feel free to contact Ms. Coggon directly at 303-866-0408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Communicating with Subscribers
It is in the best interests of xxx subscribes and our members that we have good communications about the enforcement program. We want to make sure that when we target one of your subscribers he or she has complete and accurate information about what is happening, Ideally, communication should begin as early as possible – upon your receipt of the preservation notice email,. Many ISPs already do this and we have heard repeatedly from ISP users that they appreciate this early notification. Importantly, as we discuss below, an early notification will give your customer the opportunity to settle any claims before a suit is filed against them at a reduced rate (discounts of $1000 or more). Enclose is a model notice to subscribers will appreciate receiving these early notifications from you.
Whether in a notice to a subscriber at the preservation or Doe stage, or in subsequent communication with subscribers, it is vital that you avoid providing incorrect or misleading information., For example, subscribers have made us aware of the following issues:
*The subscriber claims that the ISP recommended that she cease all communications with the Record Companies’ attorneys and representatives and essentially ignore the letters sent to her by the Record Companies;
*ISPs have given the wrong phone number for contacting the Record Companies; representatives;
*ISP customer service personnel, not the legal department, have told the subscriber that the letter received from the record company lawyers was probably a hoax and to ignore it.
*The ISP told a subscriber that “it seems likely that RIAA could have been incorrect in identifying your IP address as the source if the infringement it claims” and directed the subscriber to certain websites, instead of having him contact the RIAA.
While these examples may seem extreme, they are not uncommon. In each case, the subscriber was deprived of the opportunity to resolve his or her liability at an early stage, before a lawsuit naming that individual was filed.
To avoid any unintended relay of misinformation, the following details may be of assistance:
The record companies’ representatives can be reached at 913-234-8181 or email@example.com. That website will be located at www.p2plawsuits.com.
We also ask you to caution your help centre staff about providing misinformation to your subscribes regarding this program. IN particular, we ask that your help centre staff refrain from issuing opinions about the validity of the copyright claims. If you or your staff determine that you have misidentified a subscriber account in response to a subpoena or if you become aware of technical information in your possession that causes you to question the information that you provided in response to our clients’ subpoena, we ask that you promptly notify our national counsel by contacting Katheryn Coggon directly, Obviously, our members do not want to perpetuate a mistake by filing a named lawsuit against such an individual.
2. Pre-Suit Settlement Opportunity
As mentioned above, our members will offer infringers the opportunity to settle claims before we file a Doe suit against them. We have heard repeatedly from targets that they want the ability to settle as early as possible at the lowest amount possible. To accommodate this request, we are instituting a new Pre-Doe settlement option that will allow infringers to settle at a discounted rate of they do so prior to our filing a Doe suit.
To assist you in extending this option to your subscribes we will e-mail to you, along with the evidence preservation notice, a letter for you to forward to the subscriber.That letter will explain that the subscriber has been targeted for suit and that he or she has the opportunity, in advance of that suit being filed, to contact us to resolve the claims. Whether they want to contact us at thast time will be entirely up to them, but if they do not, they will not be eligible for a discounted settlement rate.
We can extend this Pre-Suit settlement option only to those ISPs who agree to maintain the log file for the IP address for at least 180 days. This timeframe is necessary to allow sufficient time to pursue the Doe lawsuit and subpoena if settlement discussions are not fruitful.If you will not agree to forward the early notices to subscribers and maintain the log files for 180 days, then our members will simply proceed as before with an immediate Doe lawsuit against the subscriber, followed by a subpoena as allowed by the courts.
We would like to hear as early as possible whether you would like to participate in this program to benefit your subscribers.
3. Respond9ng to Subpoenas
We have also noticed some confusion over how ISPs should respond to our subpoenas and what information the ISP needs to maintain after providing its response. In this respect, we have encountered a number of problems such as:
*In response to a subpoena, the ISP identified a customer who was not even a subscriber at the time of the infringement; the ISP had not checked its enrolment records, just the current modem assignment records:
*The ISP identified a subscriber who believes that she was misidentified, but because the ISP failed to maintain the log files it used to do the identification, it could not exculpate the subscriber;
*The ISP has not provided us with a telephone number, or an up-to-date telephone number, thereby preventing us from contacting the subscriber by telephone in order to give them an early opportunity to resolve the claims before a suit is filed.
First and foremost, we encourage you to check your log files as completely and carefully as possible before providing a subpoena response. Second, we ask that you provide us with the most up-to-date information that you have on the subscriber, including any updates to the subscriber’s name, address and phone number, Finally, on a going forward basis, we will request that xxx not only provide an identification of the subscriber, but that the log files used by xxx to do the identification be provided as well. We are taking this step to address the occasional problem we have had where an ISP does not maintain the log files and cannot later exculpate a subscriber who claims to have been misidentified. If xxx would prefer not to provide the complete log files at the time we issue the initial subpoena, but will agree to maintain those log files, we would be happy to discuss such an arrangement with you.We are hopeful that by providing early and accurate information to subscribers, we can greatly diminish the need for prolonged litigation, We are also hopeful that the initiatives we are taking will facilitate a clear process for your subscribers who may be targeted. Again, if you havbe any questins of conerns, please contactme or Kathryn Coggon at Holme Roberts & OWen LLP at 303-866-0408. We look forward to hearing from you.
Go here for a .pdf.
Definitely stay tuned.
false claims – P2p file sharing contained: RIAA, June 13, 2006
points out – RIAA sues another 762, October 1, 2004
Recording Industry vs The People – RIAA Adopts New Policy, offers “Pre-Doe settlement option”, February 13, 2007
proven to be disingenuous – File sharing: zero effect on downloads, February 12, 2007
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