Usenet Loses RIAA Copyright Infringement Suit

The music industry group is shifting away from targeting individuals and toward going after companies that make copyright violations possible.
The Recording Industry Association of America on Wednesday said it has won a copyright-infringement suit against, a site that lets newsgroup users share documents, music, and other files.

The federal court ruling in the Southern District of New York was handed down Tuesday. The RIAA had sued, a longtime online newsgroup provider, in October 2007. works differently than many file-sharing sites in that it stores content on servers and makes it available on-demand. Other sites use a peer-to-peer architecture in which content is downloaded from people's computers on a network.

The RIAA said in a statement that the decision was another example of "courts recognizing the value of copyrighted music and taking action against companies and individuals who are engaging in wide-scale infringement."

"We hope that other bad actors who are engaging in similar activity will take note of this decisive opinion," Steven M. Marks, executive VP and general counsel for the RIAA, said in a statement.

The ruling comes as the RIAA is shifting away from its longtime strategy of targeting individuals suspected of sharing music files online. Instead, the organization is going after companies that make such copyright violations possible.

Criticism of the RIAA's tactic of targeting individuals intensified last month when a jury found that a Minnesota mother should pay the RIAA $1.92 million for downloading 24 songs.

As part of the new strategy, the RIAA is asking Internet service providers to join a voluntary anti-piracy initiative that would include ISPs passing along RIAA copyright infringement notices to subscribers. Those people who ignore repeated notices would face the possibility of having their service reduced and possibly suspended before a lawsuit is considered.

In return for ISP cooperation, the RIAA would no longer file lawsuits to force the service providers to turn over identifying information of suspected illegal file sharers.

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