September 5, 2003 8:45 AM PDT

RIAA turns down some heat on file sharers

The Recording Industry Association of America will extend an amnesty program to some individuals involved in illegal sharing of copyrighted music files online, according to numerous published reports.

The RIAA, which has issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to Internet service providers seeking the names of people illegally sharing copyrighted content, will offer an easy out to some of them, numerous news publications reported Friday. The amnesty program would be extended to individuals not identified in the subpoena process or currently involved in lawsuits with the music industry trade group, according to the reports. Commercial file swappers would not be pardoned in the process.

RIAA representatives declined to comment to CNET News.com on the reported program.

According to the reports, sources said that the RIAA will excuse individuals who vow to erase all unauthorized music files from their computers, destroy hard copies of illegally obtained copyrighted materials and promise not to engage in future file swapping. The RIAA program would require people to forward to the group a notarized form of apology, sources also told the publications.

The RIAA is offering less-attractive alternatives to individuals attempting to fend off its efforts to pursue copyrighted file swappers. In the case of one accused party dubbed "Jane Doe," who is trying to fight the organization's subpoenas in court proceedings, the RIAA demonstrated it is able to identify detailed information regarding the person's shared files folder that reveals specific information about how disputed content was acquired and handled.

Some details of those files matched so-called fingerprints, or specific digital characteristics, of songs earlier identified on the now-defunct Napster service, the RIAA said. All those factors indicated that the anonymous computer user was a "frequent and significant participant in illegal downloading and distribution of music," according to the RIAA. The group indicated it would continue to aggressively pursue the involved individual and others identified via its subpoena requests.

CNET News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.

 

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