Having realised the limitations of dragging everyone who might have got hold of an unlicensed mp3s into court, BMG have come up with a new wheeze. Let's be generous and call it sending a speculative invoice which invites account holders to give them twenty dollars to make the threat of more expensive legal action go away.
Twenty dollars, I guess, seems like a fair price to the RIAA, who believe that a dodgy file or two should destroy your entire life. But, as Torrentfreak points out, they're not actually telling the truth when they make their demands:
TorrentFreak discussed this BMG project with lawyer Samuel Perkins of the Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten lawfirm. Perkins pointed us to the FAQ page on the settlement site where it states that even when an Internet account holder is innocent, he must take responsibility for the actions of others.A 3000% plus mark-up and a false insistence of who owes the money. The record industry is still behaving as it always has, clinging to methods that don't work.
“BMG acknowledges that in many cases the subscriber will not be involved in any unlawful downloading, and will not even have any knowledge of it. I represent many such innocent subscribers,” Perkins begins.
“Under current US copyright laws, they would not be liable for copyright violations that occurred using their Internet subscription. BMG misrepresents subscribers’ copyright liability by stating that ‘most Internet service provider contracts state that the contract holder is responsible for actions taken on the Internet service.’ This statement is designed to convince subscribers that they are liable for a copyright violation if a neighbor or a family member secretly downloads copyrighted material,” Perkins explains.
“The subscriber is only liable for copyright infringement if he or she intentionally induc[es] or encourag[es] direct infringement, or infringes vicariously by profiting from direct infringement while declining to exercise a right to stop or limit it.
“By deliberately obscuring the distinction between the subscriber’s contract with the ISP and the subscriber’s liability under federal copyright law, BMG’s website attempts to trick innocent subscribers into settling copyright infringement cases when they in fact have no liability,” he concludes.