Copyright Boogeyman Returns: RIAA wins suit against Usenet Newsgroups

A stack of CDs

RIAA was looking pretty bad there for a while, going after college kids and housewives for millions, and accepting multi-thousand dollar settlements over illegally downloaded MP3 files. The thousands of downloads found them writing threatening letters and filing lawsuits against their very own customers: us.

So it appears a change in tactics has worked. The RIAA took on, which provides access to Usenet newsgroups, and just won a case against them in Federal court.

Usenet was a fat target– unlike P2P networks like BitTorrent, Usenet newsgroups store complete copies of music files, as attachements to messages, for download. A host of tools was making the downloading easier and faster, and most broadband customers unknowingly got Usenet access for free with their accounts.

Until recently, that is. Because Usenet, often called the dark underbelly of the Internet, was also heavily used to traffic in porn, and kiddie porn, most ISPs dropped the service back in late 2008. Now usenetters have to pay a third party for access to the site, which has immensely dropped in popularity in the face of free alternatives to file sharing.

So while the case is indeed a win for the RIAA, and finally one that doesn’t directly target individuals, it’s simply not likely to stop much piracy in the grand scheme of things.

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