RIAA ditches MediaSentry, will now stop suing dead people and children in favor of asking ISPs to censor Internet and spy on the public

The record companies have fired their outsource enforcement thugs, MediaSentry (a sleazy outfit that changes its name as often as it changes its testimony). This is part of its new strategy: rather than suing fans, the record industry will confront the 21st century by asking ISPs to voluntarily spy on their customers, throttle their Internet connections, and disconnect people from the Internet on the basis of unproven allegations of infringement.

It's a measure of just how unbelievably stupid the lawsuit campaign was that this new tactic is actually marginally preferable. And, of course, it does mean that plenty of MediaSentry's goons will end up on the breadline, so that's good news.

Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who maintains the Recording Industry vs. the People blog and who has represented more than a dozen clients fighting the RIAA, said he considered the decision to drop MediaSentry a "victory" for his clients. MediaSentry representatives "have been invading the privacy of people. They've been doing very sloppy work," he said.

Mr. Beckerman cites MediaSentry's practice of looking for available songs in people's file-sharing folders, downloading them, and using those downloads in court as evidence of copyright violations. He says MediaSentry couldn't prove defendants had shared their files with anyone other than MediaSentry investigators.

Changing Tack, RIAA Ditches MediaSentry (via /.)


  1. Maybe its just that the child inside me has died, but not only can I not remember the last CD I purchased – its been years – but I don’t really listen to music anymore. Sure I’ll have the radio on in my car but that’s it.

    I’m inclined to think that its a combination of the record companies dastardly tactics, the poor state of music today and the death of local live DJ’s on the radio.

    Whenever I listen to new and or pop music, I see a soulless void of something that once had meaning.

  2. Something tells me it would be a nice way of checking if their “sue everyone” campaign actually worked. Did it actually lower downloads? Or perhaps people do not care?

  3. Tactics may be changing, but I think it’s premature to assume that the dropping of Media Sentry is necessarily a trade for the better. Media Sentry was awful, to be sure, but this isn’t a coin toss. Is the unknown necessarily better than “bad”?

    And that unknown isn’t a true unknown, either. Note that the article ends with this ‘graf:

    “In place of MediaSentry, the RIAA says it will use Copenhagen-based DtecNet Software ApS. The music industry had worked with DtecNet previously both in the U.S. and overseas, and liked its technology, said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy.”

    The real question, then: what do we know about DtecNet Software ApS? And what are they hiding behind that exceptionally silly capitalization?

  4. @#1 Flarbas: I feel compelled to do this in every thread I see on this subject, because there’s always someone like yourself.

    Modern music is not a problem. There are as many great musicians, as many talented people working for their art and producing high quality output today as there’s always been.

    The problem is that these artists are usually not supported by major record labels, whose interest is attacking the lowest common denominator and not art (hence the American Idol, boy/girl bands, gangsta rap, etc.). That also means they’re not promoted through radio or TV (unless you listen to independent radio), as those outlets are controlled by the same corporations.

    The trick is to change how you’re being exposed to music. Don’t depend on radio – make your own playlists. Go to independent outlets such as eMusic, AmieStreet, Jamendo, podcasts and independent radio stations (that is independent of the major labels, not “indie rock” – avoid anything within sniffing distance of Clear Channel). Use music discovery services like Pandora and last.fm to help you find what you want.

    By doing this, not only will you rekindle your love for great music, but you’ll do so without giving a dime to the RIAA. Don’t ignore music, just send the message to the RIAA that their product is the problem.

  5. Greetings

    This all falls off the table, first ISP with balls enough to ask for P.O. Number so they can bill RIAA for their time investigating and closing down the offender

    So far its all been free money for RIAA, they might not like sharing the ill-gotten gains

  6. Not preferable. Lawsuits without names were terrible, but at least eventually available for public scrutiny. Their campaign to involve the police hasn’t worked very well – good.

    But this is going to be either a protection racket or payola – both of which the industry has a highly successful track record with, neither will be known of outside the two industries involved.

  7. “…This all falls off the table, first ISP with balls enough to ask for P.O. Number so they can bill RIAA for their time investigating and closing down the offender…”

    ISP investigation? Nah, they’ll employ some wack detection method on their own and go around telling ISP’s who’s “guilty”. One has to wonder if there is any pushback from ISP’s, if they will end up being the new targets of lawsuits.

    This scheme is no better and quite totally reeks. Now, when you’re accused [if this goes thru], we run the risk of illegitimately loosing our online personas (email addresses that we’ve had for years that people know how to reach us at) on the whim of the RIAA. Yeah, I know that pales in comparison with thousands of dollars of a lawsuit, but it irks me no less.

  8. The music industry- the major labels anyway- have pretty much engineered their own collapse by trying to sell only a very very few artists to everyone. And they use stuff like American Idol as their yardstick. I have something like 20 CDs collecting dust at my store with “American Idol contestant” stickers on them and a few more without said sticker from folks who were on the show.

    It’s no wonder that most of the new bands I’ve discovered in the last 4 years are from europe, and not signed to any american labels, except in distro deals.

  9. #6: I get most of my new music from scouring music blogs. These truest of music fans are on the frontlines of discovering new music, usually ad-free and usually with free music as well.

  10. Here’s how I see it: The big ISP’s want tiered internet. They are pushing congress hard to do this. However, they probably can’t get it without losing ‘common carrier’ status. So the RIAA comes along and says ‘if you lose common carrier status we will sue you directly for copyright infringement. However, if you police your users we will help you push tiered internet through with our lobbying power.’ Carrot and stick, and guess who loses?

    Just a theory…

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