Dec 20, 2008

Entertainment - Music industry ends mass piracy lawsuits

Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Recording Industry Association of America said on Friday it had abandoned mass lawsuits against Internet users who steal music, and instead would work with Internet service providers to discourage piracy.

The RIAA, which represents major U.S. record labels, will have the ISPs send warning notices to users who illegally download music files.

Since 2003, the music industry has sued about 35,000 Internet users for music piracy.

"We think this is going to be a different form of stick, but we absolutely think this will be a meaningful alternative approach that will have a significant impact," said Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the RIAA.

Other measures will be taken against Internet users who ignore their first warning notice to stop illegally downloading music, and if those users continue they could find their Internet connections disconnected, the RIAA said.

The RIAA declined to say which ISPs had signed on for the initiative, and it said it reserved the right to sue Internet users who ignored the warning notices.

The RIAA said it would pursue lawsuits already pending against Internet users accused of illegal downloads.

The RIAA's change in strategy comes as Internet users have become increasingly aware that downloading pirated songs is illegal.

The group Arts+Labs, a collaborative between technology companies and creative artists, said in a statement that it was "encouraged by this new effort by the record companies."

Major record labels include Warner Music Group Corp, Universal Music Group owned by Vivendi SA, EMI and Sony Music Entertainment, part of Sony Corp.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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