Will ISPs grease the skids for RIAA litigation against their customers?

The RIAA wants to avoid court and get the accused to agree to settlements. To that end, the RIAA has sent a letter to ISPs asking for information and offering a possible discount (“opportunity for an early decreased settlement amount”) to would-be defendants (“targeted users”).

In a letter (which has the recipient information blacked out) the RIAA says that if ISPs hand over at least 180 days of logs, customer names and addresses, and pass along a fill-in-the-blank RIAA letter directly to the customer accused of copyright infringement, the accused may receive a $1,000 or more discount off a pre-litigation settlement price. Ray Beckerman hasn’t had time to examine the letter in detail, but offers this short list of some of the letter’s claims:

  • creation of a new “Pre-Doe settlement option”;
  • it will only make the “Pre-Doe settlement option” available to customers of ISP’s who agree to preserve their logs for 180 days;
  • the “Pre-Doe” option will supposedly allow settlement at a reduced amount, with a discount of $1000 or more, if they settle before a John Doe lawsuit is brought;
  • the RIAA will be launching a web site for “early settlements”, www.p2plawsuits.com;
  • the letter asks the ISP’s to notify the RIAA if they have previously “misidentified a subscriber account in response to a subpoena” or became aware of “technical information… that causes you to question the information that you provided in response to our clients’ subpoena”;
  • it requires ISP’s to notify the RIAA “as early as possible” as to whether they will enter the 180 day/”pre-Doe” plan;
  • it mentioned that there has been confusion over how ISP’s should respond to the RIAA’s subpoenas;
  • it noted that ISP’s have identified “John Does” who were not even subscribers of the ISP at the time of the infringement; and
  • it requested that ISP’s furnish their underlying log files as well as just the names and addresses.

BoingBoing.net asks:

At what point do we just abandon any pretense of making peace with these gangsters? When will it be time to declare war on them, to engage in file-sharing not because we love music, but because we hate the record companies?