Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I'm not sure if the record labels should be happy or not that they can continue their strategy of suing "egregious" file sharers. At the end of last year, ISP's won the privacy of P2P users on their networks. Today the RIAA issued 532 "John Doe" lawsuits where the accused are only identified by IP addresses. Previously, the RIAA claimed a right to get the names of ISP customers before filing the lawsuits. Now they will subpoena the names from the ISPs after filing the lawsuit. This is a much more expensive route to take and I worry (if this wasn't true before), that the RIAA is spending way more on the prosecution of these cases than they can hope to receive in settlement/decision money and increased sales. According to Pew half as many people are downloading music now, but the NDP report showing increased activity clearly indicates that the trend is far more complex than the RIAA thinks. A portion of the much-touted drop might be attributed to kids going home for the summer and coming back to school networks that prohibit P2P usage - an effect that would disappear as soon as kids managed to arrange a private ISPs. Also, the people who stopped file sharing didn't start buying CDs again. Yes the drop in CD sales was smaller than in past years, but not in proportion to the reduction in file sharing. Instead of looking at the nuances of their situation, the RIAA has adopted a potentially costly ideology - file sharing is bad and lawsuits can stop it, period, no matter what the statistics say.

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