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ISP to RIAA: Pay up or do your own dirty work

I love stories of the little guy going head-to-head with the big guys, especially when the big guy looks like a fool in the end.CNET's Greg Sandoval tells the story of a small Internet Service Provider in Louisiana whose owner has refused to play ball with the Recording Industry Association of America - at least on the RIAA's terms.

I love stories of the little guy going head-to-head with the big guys, especially when the big guy looks like a fool in the end.

CNET's Greg Sandoval tells the story of a small Internet Service Provider in Louisiana whose owner has refused to play ball with the Recording Industry Association of America - at least on the RIAA's terms. Last week, the RIAA announced that it was going to shift strategies to fight piracy. Instead of filing mass lawsuits, the RIAA said it is partnering with ISPs to identify, serve notice and potentially disconnect file-sharers.

Jerry Scroggin, owner-operator of Bayou Internet and Communications, doesn't take very kindly to legal threats or being bullied into being an RIAA enforcement cop. "They have the right to protect their songs or music or pictures," Scroggin told CNET. "But they don't have the right to tell me I have to be the one protecting it."

Likewise, if the RIAA expects him to basically perform work on its behalf, it had better bust out a checkbook. He doesn't work for free. (Check out the back-and-forth between Scroggin and the RIAA. Scroggin asks the RIAA for its billing information so he can send an invoice for his work. The RIAA's response: "Huh?")

Good for Scroggin.

Like many others, I don't believe in music piracy and am more than willing to pay for tracks to add to my collection. I respect the work that the artists do and think they have to the right to be compensated for their work. But the Recording Industry Association of America has done more harm than good, giving its industry a black eye with its rigid, lawyer-driven approach and deteriorating a chance at public sympathy over piracy losses.

The RIAA was smart to (finally!) stop filing suit after suit and go another route. Unfortunately, this path doesn't appear to be any more effective than the last one.