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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 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.


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
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.

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