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Wednesday, August 26 12:00 AM ET

RIAA Spamming with Download Links to Catch Pirates

By Scott Small and Brian Briggs follow me on Twitter.


As a result of successful lawsuits against file sharers, the RIAA has begun employing spammers to send out "download songs for free" emails to everyone then suing whoever clicks on the link.

RIAA technology lawyer Bob Siefert said, "Lawsuits were driving file sharers further and further underground. We realized we needed a new approach to generate revenue. When I got an email to buy software at a discount, that's when I got this idea of how we can reach more people."

Siefert said it's a worldwide operation with spammers from Russia, China, India and Moldova taking part. "In these tough economic times we can't afford to wait around until people decide to share files. We need to be more proactive; we need to go after our target audience more aggressively," he said.

The practice is sure to draw ire from people who click on links in spam messages, but Siefert said that'll be short-lived. "These people who click on links in spam are as dumb as doornails. You think they're going to be able to defend themselves from our pack of lawyers? Most of them can't even put together a coherent sentence," said Siefert.

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A lawyer for the EFF points out that, by the Rights Owner initiating the download, they are implicitly authorizing the download. EFF representative Vance Newton said, "You'd expect this sort of thing from the RIAA. Their greed and lack of knowledge of the law know no bounds."

Siefert responded, "We don't care about legality. It'll cost people thousands in lawyer's fees to fight the charge and we'll be offering a settlement for a fraction of that cost. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."

The spam emails will also make it easier for the RIAA lawyers to track down offenders. Siefert said, "I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner!"

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