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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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Uhm...
By Deborah on 5/13/2011 10:43:59 PM , Rating: 1
I highly doubt all of that money will go towards what they claim. I think the majority of it should go to the artists themselves anyway.

The biggest parasites aren't the dowloaders, but the uploaders. If people stopped uploading files, there wouldn't be any files to download.

As long as there are ways to put msuic files onto your computer, illegal uploads/downloads will continue. For instance, Itunes. Buy whatever tracks you want, then upload to whatever sites you want. People will download as long as it's there. Mp3, wav, flac, and most other formats can be converted, played, and burned.

The only way to stop it, is to somehow track it, and prosecute those who violate without hesitation.




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