RIAA gives pirates a friendly reminder

— 4:01 AM on April 30, 2003

The RIAA has revealed a new strategy in its war against peer-to-peer piracy; they've started sending private messages to individuals sharing copyrighted works over popular P2P networks. What does the RIAA have to say? Check it out:

"It appears that you are offering copyrighted music to others from your computer.... When you break the law, you risk legal penalties. There is a simple way to avoid that risk: DON'T STEAL MUSIC, either by offering it to others to copy or downloading it on a 'file-sharing' system like this. When you offer music on these systems, you are not anonymous and you can easily be identified."
Because the cost of going after P2P pirates individually is high, I expect that the RIAA will try to unleash every scare tactic it can think of before any real legal wrangling begins. Honestly, I'd rather see the RIAA resorting to this than more devious tactics like seeding P2P networks with virus-laden dupes.

With the RIAA pledging to send at least a million warning messages to P2P users offering copyrighted works for download, I have to wonder how many casual P2P users will get scared off MP3 swapping. The warning messages won't necessarily encourage P2P users to go out and buy more music, but they could curb a lot of the casual file swapping that's fuelled by those that think they won't get caught.

With gentle nagging, the RIAA may eventually reverse a cultural trend that has seen music piracy become socially acceptable. However, I can't imagine a world where those truly dedicated to pirating music won't be able to get their hands on the latest albums from one P2P service or another. Those new albums will probably show up online weeks if not months before their official release dates, too.

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