Most people are aware of the prolonged legal campaign that the RIAA has waged against alleged music sharers. The RIAA has filed suit against people with little proof, often seeking to do nothing more than scare the person into paying the high fees that RIAA demands for copyright infringement.
DailyTech reported last week that the RIAA announced it would end its legal campaign against suspected illegal file sharers and would instead work with ISPs to combat illegal file sharers. Some ISP owners say that this new plan will put the cost of battling music sharers on the ISP rather than the RIAA or the copyright owner.
One ISP owner named Jerry Scroggin says that if the RIAA or Hollywood wants the ISP to enforce copyright law, that Hollywood or the RIAA should foot the bill. Scroggin owns a small ISP called Bayou Internet and Communications and counts about 10,000 customers.
CNET News reports that Scroggin says if the RIAA asks his ISP to help it combat pirates, that it had better bring the checkbook and leave legal threats at home. According to Scroggin, he receives several notices each month that he needs to remove file sharers from his network and sends the same thing in reply.
Scroggin says, "I ask for their billing address. Usually, I never hear back."
It costs a lot of money for an ISP to track down customers that the RIAA says are illegally sharing files and the ISP is expected to do the footwork for the RIAA free of charge. Scroggin continues, "They have the right to protect their songs or music or pictures. But they don't have the right to tell me I have to be the one protecting it. I don't want anyone doing anything illegal on my network, but we don't work for free."
The ISP power says that he has a long history of helping law enforcement and isn’t trying to be a "hard ass" but the realities of finding alleged file shares and proving that they are actually breaking the law are very hard to accomplish. He says that there is often very little or no proof that the customers allegedly sharing files have done anything illegal.
To simply cut the users off at the request of the RIAA or Hollywood could cost him as much as $1,440 over the contract term of a subscription plan. Scroggin also says that the letters that are sent are often legally threatening to him, when he is doing nothing to affect the business of the company allegedly seeing their copyright violated. There's got to be a better way than HBO sending me threatening e-mail," he said. "What I'm saying is, let's sit at the table and come up with a way that works for everyone, including the customers."
Scroggin highlights what is likely to be the RIAAs biggest challenge in gaining the assistance of ISPs to combat pirates -- the cost of doing business. Add to that the bad blood between ISPs and entertainment companies stemming from years of legal threats and RIAAs new plan to stop pirates may be no more effective than its original plan of suing everyone.