RIAA Offers ISPs Pre-Lawsuit Settlement Option

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The RIAA has now extended a new deal to ISPs, one that would allow subscribers to quickly resolve lawsuits.

A copy of a letter sent by the RIAA to a specific access provider, obtained Digital Music News, offers ISPs the ability to extend pre-lawsuit discounts to targeted subscribers.  “An early notification will give your customer the opportunity to settle any claims before a suit is filed against them at a reduced rate (discounts of $1000 or more),” the letter states.  The early settlement offer would allow the RIAA to avoid a John Doe lawsuit, a complicated process that allows ISPs to initially protect the identity of its accused users.  In order to qualify for the program, ISPs must agree to keep user logs for 180 days.  “This timeframe is necessary to allow sufficient time to pursue the Doe lawsuit and subpoena if settlement discussions are not fruitful.”

In the letter, the RIAA also raises a number of ongoing procedural problems between the trade group and access providers.  The list includes misidentified users, and the dissemination of incorrect RIAA contact information and counsel by ISPs themselves.  Meanwhile, the RIAA settlement overture received a strong rebuke from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a longtime enemy of the organization.  “Before the RIAA has even verified that the user is correctly identified, it wants ISPs to send along a note saying the user might be sued and can already settle potential claims,” said EFF attorney Cindy Cohn.  “At the same time, the RIAA scolds ISPs for giving information to their customers that could help provide sound legal counsel.”