War Report: Record Industry vs. Internet Piracy
Over the last five years, record industry has initiated more than 28,000 court cases against individual file sharers. However, the irony is that the only such suit that has reached trial was in the case of Jammie Thomas, a single mother who was fined $222,000 by a federal jury in Minnesota last October (currently she is waiting for the federal court’s ruling on her appeal for a new trial).
A major factor at stake is piracy on university campuses – since 2007, over 6,000 “pre-litigation settlement letters” were forwarded by the RIAA to students in USA, “generously” offering them the chance to stay away from a possible lawsuit by reaching an agreement out of court. Reportedly, half of them agreed to settle, and the other half are in stand by for future formal lawsuits.
There were complains from a number of universities about record industry incorrectly scooping their campus networks for alleged offenders. Not surprisingly the question of what makes an undeniable and reliable evidence of users sharing illegal content over P2P networks was soon addressed. The tension has reached such a level that there were rumors of RIAA lawyers and executives being victims of death threats.
With all the RIAA’s hard work, pirated material seems to enjoy the same appreciation on the Internet. According to a recent NPD Group study 19 percent of U.S. Internet subscribers aged 13 (or more) download free music using peer-to-peer software compared to the 20 percent back in 2003 when the RIAA set off its crusade.
Though its struggle seems often destined to failure the RIAA keeps its firm stand against piracy via p2p networks.
In its attempt to eradicate illegal file-sharing activity, the RIAA collaborates with Maryland-based MediaSentry, which has created applications that run over the Gnutella network. Holding in front of their eyes a list containing recordings whose copyrights are owned by RIAA-member companies, MediaSentry begins, just like any P2P user, to search for a music file in hope of nailing another infringer.