US, UK, Sweden to pressure ISPs to drop music pirates

23 Dec 2008

The US music industry has given up the practice of suing file sharers, instead opting to work with ISPs to cut repeated offenders' access to the internet

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said it had stopped sending out new lawsuits and warnings, yet it would continue to pursue its existing court battles.

According to the Associated Press, the RIAA has sued around 35,000 people since 2003 for swapping songs online. Most defendants settled, with an average settlement of $3,500. Yet this figure did not even cover the association's legal costs.

'We're at a point where there's a sense of comfort that we can replace one form of deterrent with another form of deterrent,' RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol told AP. 'Filing lawsuits as a strategy to deal with a big problem was not our first choice five years ago.'

The British government too is considering tackling internet piracy by making broadband providers legally responsible for unlawful music and films downloaded from unlicensed websites, The Guardian said in a separate report.

In exchange, ISPs would receive a small payment for every film or music track downloaded legally by their customers, which could make them millions of pounds in additional revenue.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr) is considering a range of proposals ahead of legislation, but the profit-sharing plan, submitted by consultancy Ingenious Media, is believed to be favoured by ministers. 'Officials are treating it seriously,' according to an industry source.

In the past, ISPs have rigorously resisted any attempts by the government to make them responsible for their customers' online activities.

The Swedish government too is mulling the problem: Sweden possibly leads the world in internet piracy, thanks to the work of Pirate Bay, which claims to be the largest global tracker of BitTorrent files, according to The Guardian.

A study of P2P file sharing, reported by AP, in Sweden estimates that 38% of young males illegally share files online and the 16 to 24 year-old age group used it most intensively.

All of which has prompted the Swedish government to implement EU proposals on intellectual property rights enforcement on 1 April, tracking illegal file sharing and forcing ISPs to hand over details of offenders.

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