Originally Posted by vaughnmr
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the publishers don't have anything to do with the fines for copyright violations, that is set by Congress (or should I say the Lobbyists?).
You are right. Publishers can only issue requests for fines to the police, each of which accompanied by instructions explaining how the file it refers to can be obtained.
My idea is this. Suppose person P buys file F from vendor V. Subsequently, V discovers that such file (which includes embedded information that allow V to identify P) has been made illegally available through online publication or other means. V then issues a request for fine to the police, including the personal data of P.
If the request from V gets processed by the police (that's the police's choice), an officer tries to get the file by following the instruction supplied by V. If the officer succeeds (without having to interact with anyone she/he personally knows), an email is sent to P notifying the issue, and asking for the email(s) of the actual uploader(s).
The police then sends an email to all of these addresses, asking if the addressees want to take responsibility for the illegal distribution. If one or more of the addressees accept to take such responsibility, they share the amount of the fine between them and P does not pay anything.
If none of the addressees accept to take responsibility, person P has to pay its part of the fine, and the uploader (if identified) will pay the remaining part.