Quick Take: RIAA Changes Gears Just Before Hitting Brick Wall

Maybe you saw my diatribe against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) earlier this week and shook your head at the assertion that the coalition has to change gears now. Well, the change is happening in Internet time, which is somewhere between "instantly" and "yesterday."

Today, Ray Beckerman's RIAA litigation blog noted that the attack lawyers' lawsuit boilerplate has changed dramatically, and no longer tries to pin a "making available" claim on the hapless defendant. In a nutshell, that claim used to be a central pillar in the RIAA strategy, because it's fairly easy to show that some files were made available for download from a given IP address. Easy money if the lawsuit were to go anywhere.

But few of them ever did, and many suits have been thrown out because it isn't actually illegal to have a pile of files ready for others to download. Someone actually has to download them, which is a much harder point to prove. Sony BMG (NYSE: SNE  ) , Warner Music (NYSE: WMG  ) , Vivendi's (OTC BB: VIVEF.PK) Universal Music, and EMI (OTC BB: EMIPY.PK) can't lean on that crutch anymore.

It's real. It's happening. There's no way the RIAA could afford to start many more lawsuits when the chances of winning dwindle to nothing. Good riddance.

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