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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 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.

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
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
(BTW, FIT had awful parties, except for those couple nights at the barn..........)

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

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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