OVER THE COURSE of the past 10 years where I've had an active presence online with mailing lists, discussion boards, and blogs, I've received several threatening emails ordering me to recant comments, change blog posts or to delete all reference to a specific item. In all the memorable cases, the initial correspondence contained action words that indicated the writer would follow a process that resulted in slamming me with a lawsuit if I did not promptly comply. I ignore all those threats but deal with the requests as they arise because as I have figured out in Ireland, anyone can claim to be a solicitor, produce headed paper that substantiates their claim, and even produce court documents with stamps to indicate a place on the docket. I have received all of these fabricated documents before. These tactics are meant to achieve action and when they land on most desks, people jump. I don't even open the letters, I do not acknowledge my name when asked at my doorstep and I don't call down to the Post Office to get the Registered Post. And life goes on because society recognises polite extortion when it appears. Polite extortion now appears in the Irish media as big players are starting to rally around U2 in its call to monitor browsing histories in attempts to find people who shift music illegally. It's a shakedown racket, and there's no redeemable value to the proposal.
In the States, both DirecTV and the RIAA have used a borderline legal version of a shakedown to get people to pay them money, without them having a chance to defend themselves. TechDirt explains, "The way the process works is simple. They come up with a mere slip of evidence that the person might be guilty, and then send them threatening letters offering not to sue if they merely pay up first. With DirecTV, the company used names of people who had bought smart card writing devices, even though such devices have perfectly legitimate uses beyond pirating satellite TV signals. With the RIAA, obviously, it was through a list of (often questionable) IP addresses. By using this method, many people pay rather than face a lawsuit -- even if they're innocent. They recognize that the cost of a lawsuit is much worse than just paying the settlement charge. In the organized crime world, this is generally known as a shakedown, or if you prefer, extortion. Yet, for some reason, it's legal when these businesses do it."
You won't find me responding to RIAA complaints because as discovery will show, at least three different computers routinely use my internet connection. I don't know who these people are but they obviously know that they can find a free and open pathway to the internet via my open wifi node (SSID mellifont_friary). And you won't find illegal downloads on my computers either because I listen in a streaming music environment. And I suspect that's the way many listeners who enjoy U2 prefer to get their fix of Bono's music as well.
TechDirt -- "RIAA Shakedowns"