RIAA Realized SOPA was Ineffective
That's the Recording Industry Association of America's take on the fortunately deceased "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and the U.S. Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) (S.968). In other words, even one of the world's most notoriously belligerent and aggressive copyright wachdogs thought that SOPA was ineffective.
That's an important admission to consider as similar legislation is spewed up once more.
Of course the RIAA never intended for the public to glimpse that statement or others in a letter from RIAA Deputy General Counsel Victoria Sheckler to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). But thanks to TorrentFreak and its associates, the letter [PDF] -- dated April 2012 -- has leaked onto the web for all to see.
Much of the letter chronicles the slow death of SOPA due to "viral" grassroots campaign. The letter expresses concerns regarding "anti-SOPA sentiment in netizens being used by opponents to oppose other copyright protection measures."
But it did offer praise to SOPA for elevating the "important principle regarding intermediary responsibility."
"Intermediary responsibility" is the term the RIAA uses to describe policing by internet service providers, either by warning file-sharing users or by blocking pro-infringement sites, such as The Pirate Bay.
Following the death of SOPA, the RIAA is pushing for a "six strikes" plan voluntarily adopted by ISPs.
Thus far Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., and Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc. -- have all agreed to implement the plan.
Under the scheme, the ISP partners would send warnings to users caught file-sharing. As users received progressively more warnings they would face consequences, including:
service tier downgrade (temporary)
redirection to landing page until subscriber contacts ISP
restriction of Internet access (temporary)
redirection until subscriber completes meaningful education on copyright
Booting file-sharing users off the internet -- a controversial provision of many "strikes" plans -- is not listed as a current pillar of the plan, but it is included in a sneaky manner.
While the Memorandum of Understanding does not call for terminations, the letter mentions that ISPs in the U.S. must have a "termination policy for repeat infringers" in order to receive Safe Harbor protections under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which modified Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
In other words the RIAA says that it's not asking to disconnect users, though it casually mentions that the law requires that. Likewise the ISPs can say they aren't bowing to RIAA request, but rather to U.S. Code. Of course the RIAA was a key lobbying force in passing
that change to the U.S. Code, so at the end of the day the RIAA rhetoric is nothing more than a clever public relations ploy.