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RIAA abandons lawsuits for filesharing

[JURIST] The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) [official website] said Friday it will discontinue its controversial policy of suing suspected file-sharers [JURIST news archive] and will instead seek cooperation with major Internet service providers (ISPs) to cut access to repeat file-sharers of copyrighted songs. The RIAA said it has worked out preliminary agreements with ISPs [Wall Street Journal report] where if the RIAA suspects a provider's customers are engaging in illegal file-sharing, they will notify the provider and after repeated warnings the ISPs will cut Internet service to the customer. The RIAA will reserve the right to sue particularly egregious offenders.

Record companies filed more than 26,000 lawsuits between 2003 and 2007 over file-sharing, resulting in small settlements for most cases, including 8,000 cases filed against 17 defendants [JURIST report] worldwide in October 2006. In September, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Minnesota [official website] ordered a new trial [decision, PDF] for a woman who had been ordered to pay [JURIST report] $222,000 to record companies for illegally posting copyrighted music on the file-sharing network Kazaa [corporate website]. Jammie Thomas had sought the new trial on the grounds that the court erred by instructing the jury [instructions, PDF] that making the music available on the network alone was enough to violate the Copyright Act [text], and that the damages imposed against her were excessive. In March, another woman being sued by the RIAA sought class action status [amended complaint, PDF; JURIST report] for a counterclaim [case materials] against the RIAA, several recording companies, and data investigation company MediaSentry [corporate website] for allegedly using unscrupulous tactics as part of an RIAA anti-piracy campaign.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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