Music Industry Sues More File Swappers
Wed Dec 3, 6:45 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Recording Industry of America on Wednesday filed 41 new lawsuits against Internet users who trade songs online, saying the legal campaign was producing a growing number of settlements and drawing greater public support.
The trade group filed its third wave of lawsuits since September in federal courts across the United States, targeting users who each uploaded about 1,000 copyrighted music files on peer-to-peer networks, a spokesman said.
The RIAA (news - web sites) planned to warn another 90 users that they may be sued, the spokesman said.
Under copyright law, each defendant can be held liable for $750 to $150,000 in damages if the lawsuit is successful.
The RIAA said it had reached monetary settlements with 220 Internet users it had accused of illegally copying and distributing music online through peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa and Morpheus.
In addition, more than 1,000 Internet users have voluntarily promised to stop copying music through peer-to-peer networks to avoid prosecution, the RIAA said.
The trade group, representing the largest record labels, has now sued 382 peer-to-peer users since September to deter a practice that the industry believes cuts into CD sales.
The trade group also released a survey showing greater awareness of copyright laws. Of 802 Americans surveyed in November, 64 percent said distributing music over peer-to-peer networks violates copyright laws, up from 37 percent in November 2002.
The RIAA faced widespread criticism when it filed its lawsuits in September, but the same survey showed that 56 percent support the industry's legal campaign.
But an attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Freedom Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group, said on Wednesday that suing music lovers was a losing strategy for the recording industry.
Jason Schultz, a Foundation attorney, said the trade group should consider alternatives that would allow consumers to continue uploading music for a flat licensing fee similar to the arrangement obtained by radio stations.
Schultz also wondered whether the industry's survey accurately reflected consumer sentiment. "They surveyed 802 Americans when 60 million are still file sharing. To me that is a much larger, louder message...as far as what is happening in the real world (news - Y! TV) and what Americans really want," Schultz told Reuters. "Until they come up with a more positive approach that treats Americans like consumers instead of criminals they are going to continue to alienate...some of their biggest fans."
RIAA member companies include Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group; Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music; EMI Group Plc (news - web sites) ; Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news) (news - web sites).'s Sony Music; and Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites)'s BMG.
Sony Music and BMG have announced plans to merge, while a private group of investors is in the process of buying Warner Music.
I bet that so-called survey of public opinion is biased!! Where do they think they are getting this support from??!! I bet that poll wasn't done by an independent group.......