RIAA tweaks legal strategy

— 3:58 AM on October 20, 2003

The RIAA is preparing a second wave of lawsuits targeting peer-to-peer song swappers, but the recording industry group is taking a slightly different approach this time around. Instead of suing right off the bat, the RIAA is sending out letters offering to settle with targeted individuals out of court. The letters stop short of offering song swappers amnesty, but those who cooperate may be able to negotiate smaller settlements.

The RIAA said from now on it would send out warning letters first, allowing suspects to negotiate a settlement before being served with a lawsuit. Those who do not respond within 10 days will be sued.

"In light of the comments we have heard, we want to go the extra mile and offer illegal file sharers an additional chance to work this out short of legal action," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement.

Thus far, the RIAA has settled 64 disputes with P2P users, with most settlements being under $5,000. However, the RIAA's lawsuits don't appear to have dampened P2P usage, or done much to educate the public that sharing copyrighted material is actually illegal. Judging by the size of the settlements, the RIAA certainly isn't filing lawsuits to make money; if their legal tactics don't have an impact on song swapping the RIAA may be forced to pursue more unsavory alternatives.
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