"We're at a point where there's a sense of comfort that we can replace one form of deterrent with another form of deterrent," said RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol. "Filing lawsuits as a strategy to deal with a big problem was not our first choice five years ago." The move away from litigation represents a major shift in strategy for the music industry group, which has filed lawsuits against some 35,000 people for online music piracy since 2003.
The RIAA said agreement in principle had been reached with several ISPs on a voluntary graduated response program to copyright violations.
Under the program, ISPs would alert subscribers to copyright infringement notices and carry out a series of escalating sanctions. Repeated infringement could lead to Internet accounts being cut off.
"It's much easier to send notices than it is to file lawsuits," Bainwol said.
The RIAA said that while it was ending its litigation program, pending cases would continue and the association reserves the right to file suit in cases where notices from ISPs are ignored.
The Internet rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a comment on its blog, welcomed the end to the lawsuit campaign calling it "long overdue" and a "failure."