RIAA: MediaSentry relationship had already ended

In the second "deflation" of a Wall Street Journal story in as many months, an RIAA spokesperson confirmed to BetaNews this morning that the termination of its use of the MediaSentry service had already happened.

Among some of the more controversial aspects of MediaSentry -- a full-service protection system for media formerly used by members of the Recording Industry Association of America -- was its use of spoofing to fool unsuspecting users into visiting Web sites and downloading MP3s without authorization. Last year, a multitude of states reportedly revoked the licenses of MediaSentry to operate in their state, with some law enforcement agencies providing RIAA members with cease and desist notices. As it turns out, for the service to investigate unsuspecting users' computers as it does, it requires a private investigator's license in these states, reportedly including Massachusetts and Michigan.

This morning, RIAA spokesperson Jonathan Lamy confirmed to BetaNews that not only has the Association's relationship with MediaSentry been terminated, as suggested by a Wall Street Journal story this morning (whose principal source appears to have been a blog post from P2Pnet last week, whose source was another blog's post from earlier that week) but that the RIAA had already severed its ties to that service, and that this information was already made known.

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In other words, what had been bandied about as "speculation" last week may actually have been public knowledge, if only someone had bothered to ask.

Lamy also confirmed that RIAA members have been switching to a Copenhagen-based service called DtecNet, which does not list spoofing or other investigation tools as among the items in its arsenal.

"DtecNet has also developed sophisticated scanning tools enabling clients to monitor and estimate the threat-level posed by specific file sharing networks," reads the company's Web site. "These solutions can help clients decide their future online strategy and better evaluate the impact of piracy on their online business."

However, even the fact of DtecNet's retention may already have been public knowledge prior to last week's blog reporting. It does not appear evident that the RIAA as a unit is endorsing DtecNet specifically, and it may not endorse any one service provider at any future date, given its previous experience with MediaSentry. However, DtecNet may have been retained by RIAA members quite some time ago. The company's software has actually been in use worldwide since 2004; at that time, it had claimed the capability to detect the identity of MP3 files by song signature, though not by legitimacy or illegitimacy.

Last month, in a clarification of an earlier WSJ story, Lamy told BetaNews that the RIAA would continue its currently pending lawsuits against individuals suspected of trafficking in unlicensed tracks, though it would not pursue new cases. Instead, the Association plans to work more closely with ISPs in identifying possible sources of piracy. It's possible that DtecNet software and services may be used to that end, though in a much more overt manner than before.

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