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Record industry does not plan more lawsuits

22 июня 2009

The US record industry has no plans to resume suing individuals who use online file-trading services to share digital music files, despite an unprecedented $1.9 million verdict returned by a civil jury last week.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America told Congress in December that it would stop suing consumers. In the wake of the verdict last week, Trade group spokesman Jonathan Lamy told the Financial Times that the body saw no reason to change its position now.

Their reluctance to capitalise on the outsize verdict makes clear that it will not mark a turning point in the decade-long war on piracy that began with the birth of Napster in mid-1999.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset was the first of tens of thousands of suspected music pirates sued by RIAA to insist on taking her case to trial. While settlements to date typically have been for less than $10,000, Thomas-Rasset refused to pay and argued that someone else could have used her computer to offer up 24 songs through Kazaa. On Thursday, a federal jury in Duluth, Minnesota, awarded the record labels $80,000 per track, though her lawyers said Friday they would appeal.

The labels are so concerned about appearing heavy-handed in the case against the single mother that they said they remained willing to settle with Thomas-Rasset, as well as others, facing backlogged litigation.

All of the industry’s litigation – from the campaigns against Napster and its successor companies to the past few years’ worth of suits against file-sharers themselves – has failed to cut into the enormous amount of copyrighted material circulating on peer-to-peer networks.

Record label executives said the suits have managed to spread the word that file-sharing is against the law, a fact that many teenagers and young adults didn’t understand.

Last year, according to market researcher NPD Group, the proportion of US internet users who downloaded music legitimately for the first time exceeded the percentage relying on file-sharing networks.

The driver for that shift has been broader licensing, especially to Apple’s iTunes. Eight of the twelve jurors in the Thomas-Rasset case told the lawyers they used iTunes, making them unlikely to agree that people still turned to piracy because they couldn’t find what they were seeking on authorized channels.

The RIAA said it is nearing agreements with some service providers to have them take action against frequent offenders. But the group said the same thing in December, and no such plans have been finalised.


Источник: Financial Times

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