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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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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 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
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.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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