ICED EARTH guitarist/mainman Jon Schaffer has commented on the lawsuits filed on behalf of Century Media Records that collectively target more than 7,000 people for allegedly using peer-to-peer networks to unlawfully distribute "Dystopia", the 2011 album by ICED EARTH, and "Dark Adrenaline", the most recent album by the Italian band LACUNA COIL.
Said Schaffer: "It has come to my attention that Century Media is suing fans over illegal downloads of (among others) our latest album, 'Dystopia'. I felt it was important to clarify that we had no knowledge of this motion and were, sadly, not asked permission.
"We all know the music industry is changing. We have been adapting to this model by embracing legal streaming services such as Spotify and by bringing our music to places we have never played before by touring our proverbial asses off.
"As much as we respect that the labels are having a harder time selling music, we feel this is a misguided effort and want to make sure our fans know we would have not given our consent would we have been asked."
In a typical illegal-downloading case, a lawyer hires a company to search for Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with the use of file-sharing software such as BitTorrent. Once the IP addresses have been harvested, the lawyer's clients file suit naming defendants as John Doe. They then seek to have mass subpoenas issued for the Internet providers associated with the harvested IP addresses in order to obtain the name and address of the owner of the IP address on the date it was harvested. Once identified, an Internet account holder typically faces the prospect of settling the case for a few thousand dollars or hiring a lawyer to fight the charges.
"It's tough. If you get one of these letters you've been put in a difficult and unfair spot," said Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil-liberties group, referring to the notices that go out once a John Doe has been identified.
"In many of these situations," she added to NorthJersey.com, "the goal doesn't seem to be to fight infringement; it seems to be to get settlements. That's where the money-making is."
Nuclear Blast Records made headlines earlier in the year when it filed a lawsuit against 80 users of the BitTorrent network over illegal music downloads of an album by Oakland, California-based extreme metallers ALL SHALL PERISH. The lawsuit was not only brought without the band's permission, but also without their knowledge.
After members of ALL SHALL PERISH made it clear that they did not want to participate in the legal proceedings, Nuclear Blast voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.
In December 2008, the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) abandoned its litigation campaign against file sharers after having targeted some 18,000 individuals, usually naming dozens or hundreds of defendants per suit.
Most of the defendants settled out of court for a few thousand dollars rather than risk Copyright Act fines of up to $150,000 per purloined music track.