The RIAA has a deal for illegal downloaders

Campaign offers individuals the chance to settle piracy claims at a reduced rate

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is planning to launch a campaign that would allow individuals charged with pirating music on peer-to-peer networks to settle claims against them at a reduced rate.

The new "Pre-Doe" settlement option will offer discounts of US$1,000 or more for individuals who choose to settle claims before a so-called John Doe lawsuit is filed against them, according to a letter from the RIAA to Internet providers that has been leaked and posted on several public Web sites. "We have repeatedly heard from targets that they want the ability to settle as early as possible at the lowest amount possible," the RIAA said in its letter.

Later this year, the RIAA will set up a site at www.p2plawsuits.com that will allow individuals to make early settlements, the letter said.

The letter also states that the presuit settlement option is only available to customers of Internet providers who are willing to store detailed log information of target IP addresses for a period of 180 days. The RIAA claimed the time frame was necessary to pursue a lawsuit and issue subpoenas in case a settlement could not be reached.

The RIAA is also asking Internet providers to avoid providing "incorrect or misleading" information to consumers who may been contacted by the RIAA regarding a copyright infringement. Internet providers have sometimes instructed their subscribers to cease all communications with the RIAA, or to ignore them, and sometimes provided incorrect phone numbers for the record companies, the letter claimed.

Along with the letter, the RIAA also provided Internet providers with a standard template they could use for informing targeted subscribers of the RIAA's plans to sue them and of its intention to seek information related to their identities.

A spokesman for the RIAA this morning refused to comment on the letter or its contents.

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