In response to the backlash against its threats to target
individual file-traders, the Recording Industry of America says it
won’t unreasonably prosecute people who have illegally downloaded
only a small number of songs.
“[We are] in no way targeting ‘de minimis’ users,” RIAA
president Cary Sherman said in a statement yesterday. “[We are]
gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits against individual
computer users who are illegally distributing a substantial amount
of copyrighted music.”
Sherman didn’t specify what a “substantial” number would be.
After waging a largely unwinnable war against file-sharing
services like Napster, the RIAA announced its intent to focus on
individual users this spring. It successfully sued four college
students who were running their own smaller, local versions of
Napster, eventually settling with each for between twelve and
seventeen thousand dollars.
At the time, the RIAA said the number individual suits would
escalate, and carry penalties of up to $150,000 per illegally
Sherman’s statement responded to congressional allegations that
the RIAA’s campaign is “excessive.” “We assure you that we will
approach these suits in a fair and equitable manner,” he said,
while cautioning that his organization’s lenience doesn’t mean that
“a little illegal activity is acceptable.”