WASHINGTON -- December 19, 2008: The RIAA is largely ending the long-running strategy under which it has sued more than 30,000 people for allegedly stealing music over the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reports. The label organization will instead focus on gaining the cooperation of Internet service providers to warn suspected file-sharers and potentially take action against those who don't change their ways.
The RIAA reportedly has preliminary agreements in place with some major ISPs under which the group will notify the provider when a user appears to be illegally making music available for download. The ISP will then either forward the e-mail or notify the customer that they're under suspicion and ask them to stop the activity. If they don't, the WSJ says there may be further warnings or possibly reduced bandwidth or account cancellation. The RIAA declined to name any of the ISPs it's spoken with.
The RIAA will also no longer be demanding the identity of individual file-sharing suspects; it has been routinely getting subpoenas against ISPs for that information since the file-sharing lawsuits began. But the labels may continue to file suit against particularly intransigent file-sharers.
The campaign of lawsuits against individuals began back in 2003, after a court said a Digital Millennium Copyright Act provision allowing subpoenas without a suit did not apply. The RIAA has since filed thousands of "John Doe" lawsuits, using subpoenas to require ISPs and universities to identify suspected file-sharers.