RIAA drops suit ordering ISPs to block Chinese site

The Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) has withdrawn a lawsuit demanding that four major Internet service providers (ISPs) cut off access to a China-based Web site providing pirated music since the site is now no longer online.

The RIAA, which represents the big five record labels, claimed victory in the case this week, saying that the site had been shut down since Sunday, thanks to its antipiracy efforts.

The RIAA filed suit against AT&T Broadband, Cable & Wireless USA, Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc.’s UUNet Technologies Inc. division last Friday, demanding that they block communications to and from servers run by the site since they maintained the Internet backbone.

Although the site in question, www.listen4ever.com, was registered in China, the RIAA said that it targeted U.S. consumers since it was maintained in English and featured free music from top-selling U.S. artists.

“This particular network was a crass attempt to evade our copyright laws by setting up shop in China while offering a treasure trove of mostly American music,” RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hilary Rosen said in a statement.

The RIAA said that although it has withdrawn its case, it does not preclude it from pursuing litigation if Listen4Ever.com goes back online.

While the New York-based music industry group said that the suit was a necessary measure in protecting its members intellectual property, civil liberty organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) expressed concern over the case, which it said set a precedent whereby any one alleging piracy could shut down parts of the Internet.