/ December 31, 2008

Recording Industry Abandons Suing Policy for Pirating Songs

The U.S. recording industry has abandoned its policy of suing people for sharing songs protected by copyright and will work with Internet service providers to cut abusers’ access if they ignore repeated warnings. However, the industry will move ahead with existing cases.

Because of high legal costs for defenders, most hit with lawsuits settled, on average for around $3,500. The lawsuits were getting expensive for the association as well, as the legal costs exceeded the settlement money being brought in.

The Association credited the lawsuit campaign with raising awareness of piracy and keeping the number of illegal file-sharers in check while the legal market for digital music took off.
The decision to press on with existing cases drew the ire of Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who is defending a Boston University graduate student targeted in one of the music industry’s lawsuits.

“If it’s a bad idea, it’s a bad idea,” said Nesson. He is challenging the constitutionality of the suits. Nesson’s client, Joel Tenenbaum, faces the possibility of more than $1 million in damages for allegedly downloading seven songs illegally, which Nesson called “cruel and unusual punishment.” The case is set to go to trial in district court in Massachusetts on Jan. 22.
This move ends a controversial program that saw the Recording Industry Association of America sue 35,000 people since 2003 for swapping songs online.

Source: The First Amendment Center

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