RIAA could go after individual file traders

— 4:39 PM on July 3, 2002

In the past, the RIAA has concentrated its anti-piracy efforts on companies trying to profit from the online trading or sharing of digital audio. Napster, Kazaa, and Morpheus have all come under scrutiny and had to back down in one way or the other, but alternative peer to peer software has always sprung up to replace them. That could all change.

Instead of going after the companies and file sharing technology that facilitate the illegal distribution of copyrighted works, the RIAA is considering going after the real offenders: individual file traders. MSNBC reports:

Still, these people say, top record-label executives agreed in a trade association meeting a few weeks ago that they would move toward preparing suits that would focus on individuals who supply the biggest amounts of music, as well as so-called “supernodes,” or people who provide the centralized directories that enable online music-sharing. According to people with knowledge of the matter, two of the strongest backers of the tough tactics have been the biggest music companies, the recording units of Vivendi Universal SA and Sony Corp.
Taking on Napster and its brethren hasn't stopped the flow of copyrighted audio over file trading networks, nor has it done anything to reverse sagging CD sales. While the threat of individually targeted lawsuits may decrease the volume of online music sharing, it's not necessarily going to motivate individuals to pay money for the latest crop of unoriginal, manufactured, and disposable garbage that seems to dominate popular music today. The RIAA may just end up further alienating the very customers it's coveting.

So, if you have an entire hard drive dedicated to sharing copyrighted music via a peer to peer network, you might want to scale things back a little. Well, at least until the inevitable introduction of peer to peer networks that keep user identities completely anonymous.

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