The latest news out of the RIAA is that they are ending their war on the consumer, instead focusing on ISPs in their pursuit of three-strikes types of rules where repeat offenders would be kicked off the internet. There are several important implications of this type of behavior, but I think the biggest thing to talk about is that the chance of this working are very slim indeed.
The biggest reason, I believe, is that ISPs will fight any types of policing laws. First, it’s not in the interest of an ISP to be held accountable for the actions of their users (something I find akin to saying that the transportation department is liable for drug traffic on the highways because they built and service the roads). Second, why would ISPs want to force users off the internet? Each lost subscriber is business they can theoretically never get back, which over time would be hugely detrimental.
There’s also the fact that this type of effort requires legislation. In order to get any type of traction on a three-strikes law, there would have to be a tremendous lobbying effort and an even greater effort to avoid the backlash that creating such a law would entail. That’s not to say that this wouldn’t be the most effective angle, it would just require an enormous sum of money. That’s money that I don’t entirely believe the RIAA is capable of producing at this point. Big ISPs and probably some major internet players would be lobbying on the other side, and the only thing of value will probably be that a bunch of lawyers would make a bunch of money. The fight will probably be very long, too, and time is certainly against the RIAA as fewer consumers buy traditional media anymore.
How are you supposed to enforce a three-strikes law anyway? Why can’t I just go to a coffee shop every time I want to do some illegal downloading? What’s to keep me from going to a new ISP? Who’s going to foot the bill for enforcement? How will those without internet access be able to hold jobs? Is it a permanent or a temporary ban?
Even given that any type of legislation passes, it’s so unlikely that it can be properly enforced that it’s fairly laughable. That is, unless it wasn’t so serious. If you have a minute, you should let the RIAA know what you think. Send them feedback, or even better, just stop buying their products until they come to their senses.