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Print 25 comment(s) - last by tcsenter.. on Oct 18 at 3:29 PM

“Enforcement campaign” costing more than it brings in

The trial proceedings of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas are continuously proving their worth as a fascinating insight the RIAA’s 4-years-and-counting campaign against P2P users.
 
One such insight: despite the fact that a vast majority of the RIAA’s nastygrams result in settlements amounting to a few thousand dollars, Sony’s Jennifer Pariser admitted under oath that the RIAA has spent “millions” of dollars on the campaign and, more importantly, “lost money on [the] program.”
 
But really, could it be any other way? Surely, between the RIAA’s own lawyers and the enforcers that they hire (SafeNet, MediaDefender, etc) the costs per settlement are far in excess of whatever measly amount the RIAA can settle for. Perhaps the RIAA could try to settle for more, but unfortunately for them $2,000 - $6,000 seems to be the sweet spot; raise it any higher and more people may opt to go to court, sending legal costs through the roof.
 
It’s important to note that the RIAA’s “enforcement program” is designed to settle infringement claims quickly, giving defendants multiple opportunities at settlement before going through an expensive court trial. This system – which seems to be working modestly, if unprofitably, well and even allows payment online – is perhaps the best manifestation of the above conclusion. After all, lawyers are expensive, why involve them in anything more than you have to?
 
I’d also wager that in its haste, the RIAA ends up cutting many expensive corners, like not going through the lengths needed to properly identify users (and then blaming the ISPs when caught), or suing dead people. These mistakes end up costing them: each one gets published and scattered along the internet’s winds, the mistake often ends up being taken to court, and the suit is eventually dropped. In turn, the RIAA files additional complaints with the expectation that they will be settled quickly and cheaply, inviting further opportunity for mistakes. It’s a vicious cycle.
 
It pleases me to see that someone in the industry finally understands that the hard-lining attitude on digital music isn’t exactly working. Mentioning EMI’s dropping DRM from its iTunes offerings – practically an invitation for piracy if there ever was one – may be beating on a dead horse, but it’s an important sign pointing towards this much-needed shift in thought. Further, the recent switch to DRM-free offerings from Wal-Mart, Amazon, or even services like Joost are, I believe, clear indicators that we are finally moving in a positive direction.



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RE: Err, no.
By mindless1 on 10/15/2007 10:59:00 PM , Rating: 1
Is the rate roughly the same? Given so many variables, I don't think we can remotely conclude this. They have no way to fairly gauge what is sold on Chinese streetcorners, or darknets, closed P2P services, nor whether "rate" really means # of users or it just means fewer users but they're more proficient at it than they used to be.

Further, what if it is the same # of users (or I should say pirates?)? Today unlike any time in the past, younger people have increasing access and understanding of how to do it. I would speculate that today we have fewer tech-savvy people engaging in P2P but more kids - people who don't frequent this or most 'sites reporting news about RIAA et al. pursuing the lawsuits. Is the change in demographics significant to the RIAA et al? Probably, kids have less disposible income and are not potential customers so it was not a potential loss. That doesn't entitle them to infringe of course, but I think it does signify that the piracy of entertainment content is in a fluid state.

The Jammie Thomas fund is a hard pill to swallow. On the one hand she could settle, if/when the fund grows large enough, or on the other it could go to paying towards more defense and only the lawyers profit while she still owes the larger part if not even more than $222K by the time it's all wrapped up.


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