RIAA's Next Target Could be You

RIAA's Next Target Could be You

The RIAA's legal department has certainly kept itself busy. First they deconstructed Napster, then they took on Morpheus and Kazaa, then Audiogalaxy and now they are considering a change in strategy.
In an attempt to put the fear of the music industry in the users of the various filesharing networks, the RIAA are considering pursuing individuals.
The subject is on the table, claims an industry executive who remains anonymous. The idea would be to discourage people. Clearly there have been no consequences yet.
The possibility of such an approach by the RIAA was first reported in the Wall Street Journal and indicates how frustrated members of the RIAA feel. The continuous pursuit of the developers of filesharing software causes a serious drain on resources and has had, to say the least, questionable effectiveness. Pursuing individual users would be a much simpler task and intimidation would probably guarantee an out of court settlement but would certainly act as a deterrent to other users.

According to research conducted by Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, 10 percent of users provide, roughly, 90 percent of the content available through Gnutella. It is most likely those users who would become targets of the RIAA.

The whole idea of legal action against individual users however, does seem more as a threat rather than as a plausible course of action for the RIAA. When dealing with individuals it is very likely that courts will be more attentive to their comments and a loss by the RIAA in even a single case, could create a precedent which would be extremely difficult to overcome.

Individual user pursuit is not a new idea, it was initially carried out through users' ISP's. The RIAA sent the ISP's a list of users who were involved in file-swapping activities and asked them to warn their customers and, in some cases, to even discontinue their accounts. This process however, found many ISP's unwilling to help and was not considered efficient or successful.

Metallica also threatened to pursue individual users for unauthorized downloads of their songs but later chose to withdraw and let the RIAA handle things.

No actual plans for any such action have yet been confirmed or announced by the RIAA.