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The RIAA's recent case and a pending case in the UK provide some insight into whom it might prosecute next

The Recording Industry Association of America is the oft villainized copyright-infringement watchdog for the music industry in the U.S.  Its letters to music sharers have led to thousands of settlement over the last few years.  Now, following its recent success in the jury civil trial Capitol Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas, which resulted in a jury verdict of $222,000 in damages, many wonder who the RIAA might target next.

The RIAA might have given a clue during testimony by music industry lawyers in the Thomas case.  During the case Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was called to testify.  Pariser noted that music labels make no money on bands touring, radio, or merchandise, so they are particularly vulnerable to file sharing.  She went on to say that when people steal music the label is harmed.

Pariser believes in a very broad definition of stealing that is echoed by many supporters in the RIAA.  She believes that users who buy songs are entitled to one, and only one copy.  Burning CDs is just another name for stealing, in her mind. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'."

Such logic has been a driving force behind efforts to "rights manage" music including the current DRM found on Apple's iTunes files and Microsoft's DRM, which is also widespread.

While it seems unlikely that the RIAA would be able to effectively identify "burners", such litigation remains a legal possibility for the RIAA and major music labels, in the minds of their lawyers.

Another possible avenue of legal action for the RIAA is the pursuit of businesses that play unauthorized music in stores.  The Performing Rights Society (PRS), Britain's version of the RIAA, may give the RIAA some possible ideas with its pending litigation.  The PRS is suing the Kwik Fit Group, a car repair shop in Edinburgh, for £200,000 in damages.  The case revolves around the complaint that Kwik Fit employees brought in personal radios which they played while working on cars, which could be heard by colleagues and customers.  The PRS says this amounts to a public "performance" and should have entailed royalties.

The possible implications if this litigation succeeds are numerous.  The RIAA could pursue retailers like Borders Books who play music in their restrooms or on their store floors.  They could also seek action against small businesses that have radios in their stores.

These possible future targets may seem outlandish or farfetched, but the RIAA and its foreign equivalents have some heavy legal firepower.  It hires many of the country's top lawyers and have gained millions in settlements and recently have added the $222,000 Thomas verdict to its coffers.

Some fear the RIAA is overstepping its bounds, including in the Thomas case.  Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, and strong advocate of fair use, recently went on record stating that the trial verdict was excessive and "way out of line" with other cases of this nature.

The Bush Administration feels that the case was very fair and was a positive example of our nation's laws at work.

"Cases such as this remind us strong enforcement is a significant part of the effort to eliminate piracy, and that we have an effective legal system in the U.S. that enables rights holders to protect their intellectual property."

With the RIAA's powerful legal, financial, and political backers nobody can truly say what it impossible for it to accomplish.  Now as it is in the midst of delivering its eighth wave of infringement letters to colleges, it may soon be turning its attention to CD burners or businesses that play music in front of customers.


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You've gotta be kidding me
By FITCamaro on 10/9/2007 10:31:02 AM , Rating: 5
They're going to sue businesses who play radios?

Radio is a public, free medium. What is the difference between me listening to the radio in a store or in my car? Nothing. Sure there's other people there than the entity that owns said radio but this is hardly something new. Businesses have been playing music in stores for years. And customers like it.

What's next? Sue middle schools for playing music at dances? Go around to college parties and sue the host for playing music? Should the NFL be suing people who invite friends over to watch the game at their house? How about the MPAA sue people who buy DVDs and let someone borrow it or let a group come over and watch it?

This kind of crap needs to stop.




RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By FITCamaro on 10/9/2007 10:33:08 AM , Rating: 4
Let me also say I think a bunch of people should go to outside the RIAA's main headquarters with radios, tune them to different stations, and just start blasting them.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By RedAlice on 10/9/2007 10:49:22 AM , Rating: 4
Sounds like a "blast". I can't believe they'd target RADIO listeners! Radio stations pay royalties to broadcast the music. They make that money back by radio advertisement, which requires a LISTENING Audience. They pay for the music so they can make a profit off of selling adspace inbetween songs... I don't see how they would have a legal foot to stand on by making these bold accusations. I'm glad this lady is appealing.
To me, it's copyright infringement when someone makes a PROFIT off duplicating somebody's work. If I were to copy a CD and sell it to someone for a profit, that is copyright infringement.
If I burn my CD and decide that I want someone to listen to one of the songs, I don't see how that is copyright infringement if there IS NO PROFIT involved. I paid for the CD originally! It's my legal property.
If that's the case, that "sharing" music is illegal, they should go after the thieves who steal CD's out of cars! It's copyright infringment! They didn't pay for it! Stolen! It's not just petty theft now, it's COPYRIGHT Infringement!
Just imagine if everyone said "well you paid for it, but you can't share it..." Like a car...you paid for it, but you can't let anybody else drive it.
The way I see it is that allowing free d/l's of MP3's is nothing but advertising. 30 second sound clips are not enough to judge a song by...and I'm not going to pay $1 for a song that I'm not sure I'll even like. I'm not going to throw my money away. By allowing me to d/l a few songs I can decide whether I like an artist or an album, and I will then decide whether it's worth my money to buy the CD.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By ADDAvenger on 10/9/2007 11:16:47 AM , Rating: 2
No joke, I'm generally sympathetic to the RIAA, but this is absolutely stupid. I'm all for rewarding the artists' hard work with my money (well, assuming it's any good), but honestly, fining people for having their radios on!? I hope there's some serious backlash for this, because I honestly don't have words for how stupid this is; it's simply amazing what our legal system comes up with these days.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By fic2 on 10/9/2007 12:24:26 PM , Rating: 5
You realize that the RIAA has little, if anything, to do with rewarding artists work, right? They have been sued many times by various artists for royalties. The RIAA is all about "rewarding" record execs.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By Oregonian2 on 10/9/2007 2:28:18 PM , Rating: 2
Do bands, when on tour, get a discount in the fees they have to pay to play their music? How about bands that don't even have a record contract anywhere, how do they determine how much they have to pay to play their music?

I want to see them sue me for singing a song in public. I'll only have to sing for the jury to have them throw the case out (although I may be tossed into the slammer if I don't stop "singing" when the court orders me to).


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By fic2 on 10/9/2007 4:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
I sing so badly I could see someone sueing me to stop...


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By hrah20 on 10/10/2007 1:38:10 AM , Rating: 2
they are getting desperate !!!


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By ADDAvenger on 10/12/2007 1:00:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You realize that the RIAA has little, if anything, to do with rewarding artists work, right? They have been sued many times by various artists for royalties. The RIAA is all about "rewarding" record execs.


Of course, I don't like them because they support artists directly, I generally lean towards their side because they're against pirating which hurts said artists. However, I am beginning to see that they're doing a lot more harm than good.

Are there even any good guys anymore, any group that isn't extreme anti-piracy or extreme fair-use with its head up its extremist butt?


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By mindless1 on 10/17/2007 9:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
Rewarding artists for their work is an overly simplistic idea.

Did they choose to be an artist, and/or continue to try to produce content knowing the current market? Yes.

Did they choose to sign on with a mass distributer, knowing there was a finite limit to the control of distributing that content? Yes.

Did they really do much "work" or did they say "oh I spent so many hours on this", when they were essentially frollicking about in leisure?

I'm sorry but no, artists don't generally "deserve" anything more than the market will bear and that includes ALL aspects of the market, especially those citizens who are not part of that market because they choose not to (or can't afford) to buy that content.

Artists don't "deserve" to be paid anything at all! They work under a different compensation system than an hourly or salaried job. Deserve has nothing to do with anything. Their pay scale depends on two things:

1) Self promotion to get either individual payments or strike a deal with a larger corp.

2) Producing content that the market deems worth $$.

If they don't meet both of these requirements, and only to the extent that they do meet both, do they get anything at all for their artistic works.

Let's speak truth here. Most artists get nothing. Millions of people feel artistic and most never see one penny from it. Those who see some money, get paid based on their social networking/marketing and what value others, not a generic preconceived concept of "get paid" deem valuable.

Artists are not on the welfare system by default. If they can't make a livable wage as an artist, it's damn well time they found a job they can succeed at. The REAL problem is the middleman leeches who desperately try to survive in an era where promotion and distribution have become far cheaper by other means than those of past eras.

Cut out the middlemen, give the artists a fair share of what those who can afford to pay, deem worthy of pay, and don't re-elect those in legislature who are puppets to the media industries' deep pockets.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By nitrous9200 on 10/9/2007 4:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, sometimes I want to hear the whole song to see how I like it instead of just a short preview, which doesn't mean much. And if they plan to continue suing everyone who's downloaded music, they're going to be at it for a LONG time.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By maverick85wd on 10/10/2007 6:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
This is what happens when art is taken over by business men. I believe fully that artists should be payed for outstanding performances, perhaps there are other things to consider; the Grateful Dead encouraged piracy with cassettes and people went to their concerts... that is how they made most of their money. Music is art and should be shared freely. MP3 downloads have encouraged me to go out and buy a CD because I liked so many of the songs and I wanted to get a CD-quality experience. Either way, these laws types of proceedings hurt people that are trying to do things honestly in the first place.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By othercents on 10/9/2007 10:42:55 AM , Rating: 3
The next step is having the police pull over anyone that is playing music in their car loud enough to be heard by someone else. Doesn't RIAA understand that they are just going to shoot themselves in the foot? There is no longer a reason to listen to music if it means you can be sued for it. I can imagine someone listening to their music on earphones, but it be so loud that someone else around them can hear it. Because of this they are sued?

Maybe they should sue the car manufacturers for putting radios in cars that are loud enough for people to hear. Oh who do they sue if you take your car to be worked on and one of the employees turns up your radio for everyone in the shop to hear? Are you at fault?

This has just gone too far.

Other


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By Chernobyl68 on 10/9/2007 1:32:29 PM , Rating: 4
they could sue drivers who listen to the radio when they have passengers in the car...


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By kinnoch on 10/9/2007 4:52:38 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think they have an issue with multiple people listening to the radio because that music is liscenced by the radio station. They worry about people playing CDs, because they only got that one time fee. Although, thats total bull shit :)


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By MDme on 10/9/2007 6:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
so what if I play a CD on my radio and someone in the same room "listens" to it (whether they meant to or not)...will they sue me? This is ridiculous.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By BeastieBoy on 10/10/2007 5:26:41 AM , Rating: 1
But the case against Kwik Fit relates to radio, not CDs. The royalties have been paid by the radio station.
The radio station should sue the record companies or whoever for preventing their show being played to an audience, thus reducing listener numbers and therefore advertising revenue.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By theapparition on 10/10/2007 7:22:59 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
But the case against Kwik Fit relates to radio, not CDs.

Where in the article does it say that?? It says they played their radios, not radio stations. The article is misleading and should be re-written to say they played their stereos, since they are being sued for playing CDs, not public radio. If you look up the actual suit, you'll find that's true.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By mooncancook on 10/9/2007 7:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
Now I know "Who kills the Boombox". Damn them RIAA, I miss the days of boomboxing on your shoulder in the public!


By Supersonic3474 on 10/10/2007 5:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
I work for a Home Automation Company that are responsible for Whole House Audio. The entire company listens to the radio at the same time. Are we going to get sued??

The RIAA are out to ruin people and get as much money as they can by suing the very people who have made them rich. Keep in mind that that the damage they speak of is only hypothetical so I don't think they have any grounds to sue everyone.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By AntiM on 10/9/2007 11:32:02 AM , Rating: 4
I would LOVE to see a boycott. Let these greedy bastards cling to their outdated business model. In the end, it's the consumer that has the ultimate power.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By codeThug on 10/9/2007 3:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa, watch you say. You might be accused of supporting the "Recording Industry Holocaust" and getting your name firmly ensconced on someone's black list.

Then, when you turn 85, you will be brought up on charges and either jailed or deported...

If you really want to make a difference, buy that Radiohead CD for a reasonable price and help usher in the total collapse of the RIAA.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By gameman733 on 10/9/2007 11:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They're going to sue businesses who play radios?


Well, since you asked.. The small restaurant I work for got hit with a licensing fee to play the radio in their restaurant. I don't know the details, but essentially they called and asked if we played music, the person told them yeah, and that was the end of the conversation. The owner then started getting billed. I don't know how accurate the story is, but that is what the owner has told us.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By theapparition on 10/9/2007 12:15:30 PM , Rating: 3
They cannot possibly sue for listening to "radio". Radio is broadcast on public airwaves that anyone can listen to.

What was confusing in the article was that employee's of the repair shop brought thier "radios" in. Not that they played "radio stations". They must have played CD's or MP3's and that's what the lawsuit is about.

Completely stupid either way, though.

quote:
What's next? Sue middle schools for playing music at dances? Go around to college parties and sue the host for playing music? Should the NFL be suing people who invite friends over to watch the game at their house? How about the MPAA sue people who buy DVDs and let someone borrow it or let a group come over and watch it?

It's funny you mention it, but I think all those issues are real (albeit, shouln't be). I'm pretty sure that schools have to license some music to play for band and events. The NFL already forbids the watching of "their" games at a public venue, unless they have purchased a license to rebroadcast. Your allowed to watch it in your home only, but the local bar is not allowed to show the game while charging you a cover (They can't profit from showing the game). Recently, there was a church group that was forbidden by the NFL to show the superbowl, because they charged a mizerly sum to cover the cost of the event. And you are already not allowed to loan a CD/DVD out to a friend. The problem with all of those rules is enforcement. How do they know you loaned it out? They want a system to track everytime a work is viewed/listened to. In fact, the ultimate goal is to charge per view, a true on-demand situation where the consumer owns nothing.

College parties, well, that's a free-for-all, there's no way that could be regulated, but the intent is to try and regulate it. (BTW, FIT had awful parties, except for those couple nights at the barn..........)

Your right though, this has to stop.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By johnrdupree on 10/9/2007 1:58:36 PM , Rating: 3
In the US, businesses that play a radio must pay ASCAP and BMI for the pleasure. The reasoning is that you are using their product (music) to make money for yourself and they want a cut. Of course, these organizations represent the artists (supposedly) and not the recording industry. This system is well established and you can not get around it. The payments are based on the type of medium (radio, CDs, jukebox, DJs, live bands) and the number of people your establishment will hold. I would think that the UK has a similar system.
How the RIAA, an organization that represents the recording industry, figures into this, I don't know. Unless they claim that people are sitting in bars making copies of the songs playing on the jukebox, it's really none of their business since the media was legally obtained and the broadcast rights are granted by ASCAP and BMI.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By FITCamaro on 10/9/2007 3:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
And yes I know that a lot of businesses pay to play music in their stores. However normally those are businesses that have set music loops to play the same songs over and over. Best Buy, Circuit City, Starbucks, JC Penny, etc are all this way.

The idea of charging a mechanic a fee though to listen to the radio while he/she works because a customer might hear it is ridiculous. Or to charge a bar that has a radio in it. Now say a club, yes. People are there for the music. I don't know about you, but I don't go to a mechanics shop or bar to listen to the radio. Or even a bookstore should one be playing the radio.

Besides what does it matter who hears it? How are you "stealing" by listening? If anything you might hear a song you hadn't heard before and inquire into its artist and possibly purchase the CD said song is on.

Yes I know the NFL and other sports though have rules against public display of a game. But thats for businesses. If you want to invite 10-15 people over to your house for a Super Bowl party, you're not expected to pay a fee to do so.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By theapparition on 10/10/2007 7:20:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In the US, businesses that play a radio must pay ASCAP and BMI for the pleasure.....The payments are based on the type of medium (radio, CDs, jukebox, DJs, live bands)

Wrong, you seemed to have missed it too. Playing the "radio" and playing a "radio station" are two separate things. A radio is just a hardware device that has the potential to play back many formats (AM/FM/Tape/CD/MP3). A radio station is a publicly broadcast medium (for radio AM/FM and for TV VHF-L/VHF-H/UHF) that legally cannot be charged for, set in stone by the FCC.

They must pay if they play copyrighted music, but not if they play a "publicly broadcast radio station". Many companies pay to play the copyrighted music, and subscribe to commercial free music or use CD/MP3/satellite, since they don't want the potential for their competitors ads to be broadcast in their store.
But if any store sticks up a radio and plays an AM or FM station, they CANNOT be charged for that.

From the ASCAP faq:

From the ASCAP Licensing FAQ:

Yes, you will need permission to play records or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio and television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public communication of TV or radio transmissions by eating, drinking, retail or certain other establishments of a certain size which use a limited number of speakers or TVs, and if the reception is not further transmitted (for example, from one room to another) from the place in which it is received, and there is no admission charge.

Satellite and internet radio stations are not broadcast on public airwaves and would be required to have a license to rebroadcast. Obviously, any personal media would need a license as well.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By FITCamaro on 10/9/2007 3:04:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
(BTW, FIT had awful parties, except for those couple nights at the barn..........)


I thought YouTube took that video down....TIME TO SUE!


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By techfuzz on 10/9/2007 1:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they are going to sue people who play radios and they have already started:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071008-the-...

Sitting in your car with the windows down and music loud enough the person sitting in traffic next to you can hear?
- Guilty of copyright infringement

Listening to music at work and someone in the cubicle next to you can hear?
- Guilty...

Having a BBQ in your backyard and your neighbors can hear the radio next door?
- Guilty...

Enjoy the last of your radio listening freedom...


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By 1078feba on 10/9/2007 2:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
The really funny thing is that you will have these teens and twenty-somethings who have put $10K worth of stereo equipment in their rides, which would then become...worthless!

No more BOOM-BOOM of the pile-driving bass as the car rolls past you.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By RedAlice on 10/9/2007 5:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
They could always buy CD's =D


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By johnrdupree on 10/9/2007 2:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
The point is that they are suing businesses because they claim the business is using music to make money. There is difference between sitting in your house listening to the radio and having a beer, and sitting in a pub listening to the radio and having a beer, in their minds at least. Having the music playing in the pub adds value to the pub, and therefore the pub should share the revenue with the people who helped create that value (the artists who made the music). Hence the licenses from ASCAP, BMI, and (in the UK) RPS. This has nothing to do with the RIAA.


By bravacentauri83 on 10/9/2007 4:06:04 PM , Rating: 4
We got a call at the local company I work with from BMI. They told us we have to pay royalties for playing a radio station while customers are on hold. We've been doing this for over TWENTY years, and we all of a sudden get a phone call telling us we are doing something illegal? The funny thing is that their literature states NOTHING about how our business applies to the rules. It said something to the nature that it had to be a retail store and a certain square footage. Our company meets NEITHER requirement. We turned off the radio just so we wouldn't get hassled by them again. Now customers complain because they think we hung up on them.

Way to go BMI and RIAA.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By tbone97225 on 10/9/2007 5:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
I can understand to a point the pressure RIAA is in. The big labels are losing money daily to various music download & file sharing services. CD sales are well, when was the last time you bought a cd? 'Nuff said.

That being said, punishing businesses for playing radios in their businesses is going way to far. The only thing I have to say is I'd love to see them enforce these kind of Nazi tactics. As far as CD burners go, they won't touch those either.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By wallijonn on 10/10/2007 2:56:44 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The big labels are losing money daily to various music download & file sharing services. CD sales are well, when was the last time you bought a cd? 'Nuff said.


A major part of the reason for CD sales drop is due to "too much product" on store shelves. Unless you listened to music at the store via headphones there is really no way to know what you are buying. DVD movies have jackets which describe the movie, along with pictures and a list of actors. But if you pick up a CD at random, what possible information could one put on the back jacket to allow one to ascertain what one is buying? Unless you know what a song sounds like before hand there is little reason to buy something which you may not like.

Until CDs come with micro speakers with music clips recorded in ROM (like "singing" birthday cards) sales will continue to decline.


RE: You've gotta be kidding me
By feraltoad on 10/9/2007 6:01:04 PM , Rating: 2
The NFL advised a church that displaying the SuperBowl with a projector and charging an admission (the church said it only paid for the food provided ;)) was illegal. I think they did it anyway and just asked Jesus for forgiveness. I may have to rethink my neighborhood theater I run in my garage.

http://www.theindychannel.com/sports/10916537/deta...


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