No, hell hasn't just frozen over. However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has decided to abandon its strategy of massively suing alleged online pirates. Instead, the trade group plans to cooperate with Internet service providers to warn and potentially boot off users who engage in copyright infringement online.
The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider's customers making music available online for others to take.
Depending on the agreement, the ISP will either forward the note to customers, or alert customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally, and ask them to stop. If the customers continue the file-sharing, they will get one or two more emails, perhaps accompanied by slower service from the provider. Finally, the ISP may cut off their access altogether.
Reportedly, the RIAA claims to have "agreements in principles" with certain ISPs, but it hasn't mentioned any names. The WSJ doesn't say when these measures might come into play, either.
This strategy sounds quite similar to the French government's "three strikes" copyright bill, which would see users forced offline after two warnings—although in that case, a government agency would handle and enforce disconnections. Somewhat worryingly, neither concept seems to provide many avenues for users wrongly flagged as pirates, be it due to malware, a third party breaking into their Wi-Fi network, or an administrative error.