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The RIAA has squeezed $105M USD out of the P2P giant Limewire.  (Source: Mexican Foodie)

Don't expect that windfall to go to artists, though. The RIAA says it will "reinvest" it in its antipiracy efforts, which include maintaining a mass threats program against U.S. citizens and trying to pay off politicians to outlaw burning backup copies of content people own (pictured).  (Source: Google Images)
Parasitic nature of music industry's big labels continues

In today's market many independent musicians view the big record labels as a parasitic entity of sorts, exploiting talented musicians, inflating undertalented pop stars and lavishly spending, while crying over "dropping" profits.  Of course, not everyone feels that way, but a recent settlement between major label copyright watchdog group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and filesharing service LimeWire does little to convince observers otherwise.

You may recall that LimeWire was smote down by the RIAA in federal court over copyright infringement claims.  The site's appeals fell on deaf ears, and the service was ordered shut down.

The case has finally been wrapped up with a jury deciding on damages against the service.  The jury in this case opted to arrange a settlement between LimeWire and the RIAA legal team, which would call for LimeWire to pay $10,808 USD per track for the 9,715 tracks the RIAA claimed LimeWire infringed, for a total fine of $105M USD.  

While that may sound like a lot, it's actually significantly less than the maximum fine of $150,000 USD per track the jury could have awarded for willful infringement.  That would have resulted in a fine of $1.46B USD.  The RIAA originally sought $150B USD in damages from LimeWire -- approximately15 times the music industry's total reported yearly income -- but was deterred by the minor triviality that LimeWire had nowhere near this amount of money.

RIAA Chairman Mitch Bainwol hailed the decision, commenting, "The resolution of this case is another milestone in the continuing evolution of online music to a legitimate marketplace that appropriately rewards creators."

The settlement will do little to improve the major labels' image, though, as they may not give any of the record windfall to the artists that actually had their work infringed.

Instead, the organization has previously promised to spend the money to reinvigorate its unprofitable campaign of threats and lawsuits, in addition lobbying politicians to offer greater enforcement of copyright infringement at their constituents' tax expense and outlaw consumer practices like creating backup copies (which the RIAA contends is "stealing").

RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy previously stated, "Any funds recouped are re-invested into our ongoing education and anti-piracy programs."

The RIAA would surely argue that artists would eventually benefit by reducing piracy.  However, the organization's past efforts have proved only marginally effective at best as piracy rates have waned and waxed with the years passing years, always remaining relatively high.

Recent studies have also shown that pirates are the biggest legal purchasers of music.  This makes sense, as many view piracy as a "preview" of sorts, which they use to decide which artists are worth supporting.  They might not buy that Lil Wayne track they downloaded, but they might end up buying an album from a smaller artist they discovered, like The Antlers.

At the same time major labels in the U.S. and Britain are accused of committing mass infringement and stealing millions in revenue from independent musicians.  The labels have convinced politicians and the legal system to give them the right to sell any track that they "can't find" licensing information for.  

In effect this means they can go out and steal copyrighted work of small independent labels and musicians.  A compensation system is in place, but it's notoriously bad -- many musicians have struggled for years to get repaid, only to find their pleas fall on deaf ears.

At the end of the day the major labels' campaign of infringement and campaign against infringers in the public have a surprising amount in common.  Both generate big money for the labels -- and both give nothing to artists. 



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Its not 105million..
By imaheadcase on 5/13/2011 1:20:15 PM , Rating: 3
Thats what they was rewarded. The actual dollar amount will be next to nothing because like most of these cases Limewire won't have the funds so basically go bankrupt, rename itself and continue whatever they want.. Which is what they want in the first place.

We do that to people who don't pay rent. We know they can't afford to go to court, but be sue anyway for all sorts of stuff, so they have to go bankrupt and ruin credit.

Thats what most of these "judgements" are in music/movie copyright cases. The people just default, making RIAA/MPAA not really win anything.




RE: Its not 105million..
By imaheadcase on 5/13/2011 1:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
Just to clarify my last comment. Most people live paycheck to paycheck. So if RIAA sues you for $10k. Most people just automatically go to bankrupt to end it.


RE: Its not 105million..
By joex444 on 5/13/2011 5:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
They've changed the bankruptcy laws to make this harder to do. I very much doubt you can declare bankruptcy over $10k. Even if you did, it probably ruins your credit to the point you're better off paying the debt.


RE: Its not 105million..
By Jalek on 5/14/2011 7:09:02 AM , Rating: 2
"Ruining your credit" is only an issue if you plan to get a mortgage or car loan in the next year or so. Credit scores and all that are made-up nonsense by banks. A year after a bankruptcy, you're considered a good risk since you can't file again for another five years but they'll still punish you with interest rates with that as the excuse.

Bankruptcy is where most people hit with large judgments end up, whether they want to or not. The attorneys just make sure they're first to get any available assets when that's all they can get.

Then ten years later, there's little to no indication of anything.


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