Verizon Wireless, the second-largest phone company in the United States, has agreed to start issuing notices on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America to its customers that are found to be illegally downloading music. Verizon was notable for being the staunchest opponent to taking action against those it provides with Internet service. While other Internet service providers allowed the RIAA to access the personal information of their customers or had "three strike" rules regarding downloading illegal content, Verizon had no policy on those who were determined to be downloading copyrighted content.
Eric Rabe, a Verizon executive, said that the only action taking place is a written notification. Verizon also will not give the RIAA any personal information without a subpoena nor initiate any sort of three strike program. Anonymous sources disclosed that the letter campaign was part of an unidentified test that the company is undertaking.
While merely sending letters, coupled with the company's openness about not undergoing legal action against their customers, will probably not affect illegal downloading much, it still seems like a step in the wrong direction. With Verizon beginning to kowtow to the whims of an outdated institution like the RIAA, it could only be a matter of time before other ISPs fall in line with the RIAA's outlandish requests.
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