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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Song swappers amnesty 'expected'
Music download
The RIAA may offer to turn a blind eye if people promise to delete files
Music industry officials in the US are considering offering an amnesty deal to people who admit illegally sharing music on the internet.

The deal would see the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) promising not to sue file sharers as long as they disclose where they got the tracks and promise to delete the songs from their computer hard drives.

The amnesty, which may be offered next week, will not be available to the 1600 people already facing legal action.

Hundreds of lawsuits against music swappers are being prepared after an industry crackdown on copyright infringement.

The RIAA's offer would require music swappers to complete an official form promising to delete illegal files and not to trade files again in the future.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It is the public and the artists that should be suing the RIAA and its members for anti-competitive, monopolistic practices
Martin, UK

In exchange the RIAA would promise not to take legal proceedings against them.

'Fear'

"I'll be curious to see how many opt for this," said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer for San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is against the RIAA's legal campaign.

"It will be an interesting measure of how much fear the recording industry has managed to inject into the American public," Mr von Lohmann said.

He said the RIAA did not represent all copyright holders, and there was still the chance people who had signed up to the amnesty could still be sued by other people.

"It's not the kind of agreement that most people's lawyers will embrace," he said.

The amnesty may be an attempt to improve the association's profile after criticisms it was being too heavy-handed chasing copyright infringement.

'Acting illegally'

It has forced telecommunications companies to disclose the identities of people swapping music files.

Earlier this week a US woman said she was contesting the RIAA's order for her to hand over her internet records.

The woman, who has only been identified as "nycfashiongirl" in court papers, is suggesting the RIAA acted illegally in intercepting her internet activities.

Lawyers are now asking a federal magistrate to delay ordering her internet service provider to turn over her name and address to the RIAA, in preparation for filing a lawsuit.

The RIAA has accused her of offering more than 900 songs by the Rolling Stones, U2 and Michael Jackson, and at least one movie, Pretty Woman.

Her defence is that the RIAA is not properly affiliated with law enforcement agencies and thus its search of music files was a violation of her legal protection.


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