updated 03:00 pm EDT, Wed June 24, 2009
RIAA Forced Settle
RIAA member Universal Music Group this past weekend was forced to settle a music file sharing lawsuit it had filed against New Hampshire resident Mavis Roy. The label dropped its case after evidence provided by anti-piracy snooping firm MediaSentry was successfully challenged by the defense's expert witness Dr. Sergey Bratus. Among other key problems with the data, the defense pointed out that Roy didn't own a computer at all at the time of the supposed infringement and that it wasn't until a letter appeared that she was aware of any possible action.
Universal is likely to have settled the case to avoid creating a legal precedent that could be used to shoot down other MediaSentry-derived evidence and defeat the RIAA in similar cases.
Opponents to the RIAA's lawsuit tactics have argued that MediaSentry is not only an unauthorized investigator but that it has regularly misidentified file traders by making assumptions about the accuracy of IP addresses that have targeted the deceased, young children and those like Roy who didn't have computers. Such tracking systems can only see file sharing accounts used by certain IP addresses and doesn't account for those using others' connections, mistaken physical addresses or the person actually using the computer.
The RIAA has claimed it will stop suing individuals in favor of trying to force Internet providers to monitor and flag pirated material, but questions have been raised why new lawsuits have appeared and why other, sometimes questionable lawsuits have persisted since the formal change in policy.