January 28, 2003

RIAA vs. file-sharers, civil and criminal approaches

I agree with Ed Felten's comments on the RIAA and not suing file sharers (and Jonathan Zittrain's quotes) - that is, the RIAA will try to get the ISPs to be their enforcement agents.

However, my method of reasoning is simpler: "Where's the money?"

The RIAA is not going to file a civil suit against individuals who file-share, because, by and large, those targets have no assets. Worse, those users are at the bottom of the pyramid, the "small-fry". It's a complete waste of money to go after them.

For all the noise about The Government, prosecutors have even tighter budgets than the RIAA. A criminal case against an average file-sharing user makes even less sense.

Even make-an-example cases won't be meaningful, because the behavior involved is unskilled and low-level (note in contrast, going after tool-making programmers make much sense, that's a skilled activity, with much potential to intimidate by harsh penalties)

So where's the control-point? The ISP. ISPs want to make money. The path of least resistance (== costs least money) is to do what the RIAA wants, and there's both economic incentive and law to back this. There's the money.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on January 28, 2003 07:12 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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