RIAA Begins Catching Music Pirates Today: Don't Be Next

The Recording Industry Association of America announced Wednesday that it will be seeking out people who trade copyrighted music and making plans to sue thousands, starting today. The announcement, accompanied by a few dozen messages from artists, asserts that the RIAA will be iscanningi the peer-to-peer networks in order to find out whois sharing, and collecting evidence with which to sue them. From yesterdaysis announcement:

"Once we begin our evidence-gathering process, any individual computer user who continues to offer music illegally to millions of others will run the very real risk of facing legal action in the form of civil lawsuits that will cost violators thousands of dollars and potentially subject them to criminal prosecution," said (RIAA president) Sherman.

To gather evidence against P2P users who make illegal downloading possible, the RIAA will be using software that scans the public directories available to any user of a peer-to-peer network. These directories, which allow users to find the material they are looking for, list all the files that other users of the network are currently offering to distribute. When the software finds a user who is offering to distribute copyrighted music files, it downloads some of the infringing files, along with the date and time it accessed the files.

Additional information that is publicly available from these systems allows the RIAA to then identify their Internet Service Provider (ISP). The RIAA can then serve a subpoena on the ISP requesting the name and address of the individual whose account was being used to distribute copyrighted music. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), ISPs must provide copyright holders with such information when there is reason to believe copyrights are being infringed. Almost all ISPs disclose this obligation in the Useris Terms of Service.

This announcement, plus further information on the process, can be found at the RIAAis Web site. Again, the investigations commence today - Thursday, June 26th.