updated 03:55 pm EST, Thu December 24, 2009
RIAA knows ISP notices ineffective
The Recording Industry Association of America's ISP piracy warning deals are nothing but a public relations front, industry sources claimed yesterday. While the music label group had initially suggested it would have a deal that would disconnect repeat offenders, the purported insiders say labels wanted a "scarecrow" that would spook pirates even though the threat of disconnection couldn't legally be enforced. The aim, according to CNET, was primarily to replace the tactic of suing individual customers with an approach that still implied punishment.
Deals struck with AT&T, Comcast and Cox were actually just strategic moves meant to convince holdout Internet providers that they would soon be in the minority, the same sources indicate. RIAA chairman Mitch Bainwol has admitted that providers have never settled a definitive agreement. To date, the telecoms companies have not only declined to cut off Internet access for repeat offenders but have said they can only be made to do so through the courts.
Currently, there are no legal measures that permit ISPs to disconnect customers for alleged piracy violations. The service operators can also theoretically point to safe harbor principles that exonerate them from responsibility for customers that pirate material without the providers' knowledge.
Disconnection laws exist in France and a small number of other areas but have been staunchly opposed by critics, who have warned that these not only often deprive suspected pirates of full trials and ignore tactics like "stealing" Wi-Fi that hide the actual pirate's identity.