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Print 25 comment(s) - last by tcsenter.. on Oct 18 at 3:29 PM

“Enforcement campaign” costing more than it brings in

The trial proceedings of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas are continuously proving their worth as a fascinating insight the RIAA’s 4-years-and-counting campaign against P2P users.
 
One such insight: despite the fact that a vast majority of the RIAA’s nastygrams result in settlements amounting to a few thousand dollars, Sony’s Jennifer Pariser admitted under oath that the RIAA has spent “millions” of dollars on the campaign and, more importantly, “lost money on [the] program.”
 
But really, could it be any other way? Surely, between the RIAA’s own lawyers and the enforcers that they hire (SafeNet, MediaDefender, etc) the costs per settlement are far in excess of whatever measly amount the RIAA can settle for. Perhaps the RIAA could try to settle for more, but unfortunately for them $2,000 - $6,000 seems to be the sweet spot; raise it any higher and more people may opt to go to court, sending legal costs through the roof.
 
It’s important to note that the RIAA’s “enforcement program” is designed to settle infringement claims quickly, giving defendants multiple opportunities at settlement before going through an expensive court trial. This system – which seems to be working modestly, if unprofitably, well and even allows payment online – is perhaps the best manifestation of the above conclusion. After all, lawyers are expensive, why involve them in anything more than you have to?
 
I’d also wager that in its haste, the RIAA ends up cutting many expensive corners, like not going through the lengths needed to properly identify users (and then blaming the ISPs when caught), or suing dead people. These mistakes end up costing them: each one gets published and scattered along the internet’s winds, the mistake often ends up being taken to court, and the suit is eventually dropped. In turn, the RIAA files additional complaints with the expectation that they will be settled quickly and cheaply, inviting further opportunity for mistakes. It’s a vicious cycle.
 
It pleases me to see that someone in the industry finally understands that the hard-lining attitude on digital music isn’t exactly working. Mentioning EMI’s dropping DRM from its iTunes offerings – practically an invitation for piracy if there ever was one – may be beating on a dead horse, but it’s an important sign pointing towards this much-needed shift in thought. Further, the recent switch to DRM-free offerings from Wal-Mart, Amazon, or even services like Joost are, I believe, clear indicators that we are finally moving in a positive direction.



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RE: Err, no.
By masher2 (blog) on 10/15/2007 2:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
> "The rate of piracy is roughly the same as it was before the industry's lawsuit campaign started"

One could argue that, without this threat campaig, the rate of piracy would have continued to increase, though, and would now be even larger. I don't advance that theory myself, but it is a possibility.

> "The intended effect -- threat, as you say -- isn't happening."

I'd hazard a guess that, should we see a few dozen more Jammie Thomas-size awards, and that threat will suddenly take hold in the minds of consumers.


RE: Err, no.
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/15/2007 7:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmmm, I'm not sure about that. I don't know anyone who was pirating music that has suddenly stopped because of it, infact most of them have just gotten a little slicker in how they go about downloading such music. Stupid mistakes like "using a handle that is remotely similiar to one you use elsewhere" are not done by them.

I don't have time for music, I use the good ole fashioned radio next to my bed and the one in my car.


RE: Err, no.
By jak3676 on 10/15/2007 10:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
As weird as this is to say - I have to agree with masher on this one.

The RIAA was never set up to be profitable in their pursuit of downloaders. They are also not concerned about the negative image that sueing their own customers brings. The rates of illegal downloading are still continueing, but they are not growing exponentially as they did back in the days of the original napster either. That's about all they were really trying to do. As anti-RIAA as I am, they have had marginal success at preventing free downloading from going mainstream. I'd love to be able to say the opposite, but I can't. Any amount of negative plublicity that they've generated on-line has really not impacted their business. The general public are to uninformed to and appathetic to change.

There was a day when my pastor or grandmother may have thought it was OK to hop online and swap some songs with their friends, but they now know that isn't. We can agrue about how thing "should" be, and I'll be the first to agree that things need to change.

I do think that the overall marketplace will eventually shift to a new business model, but the old mindset will be around for years to come. The few companies that can embrace the future will probably make a killing on sales, but until someone proves a new model there will be enough nay-sayers in the corporate offices that will stick to the status quo. The RIAA will never be able to stamp out illegal sharing, but they really don't have to in order for them to claim success.


RE: Err, no.
By rdeegvainl on 10/16/2007 8:05:21 AM , Rating: 3
The pirate market can only grow exponentially for so long. It mostly grew exponentially due to the advent of the internet. Now that the majority of the people have it, they either do or don't, I don't think the slowing or stopping of the growth or pirating is due to the RIAA efforts, but just a coincidence.


RE: Err, no.
By Schrag4 on 10/16/2007 2:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
"They are also not concerned about the negative image that sueing their own customers brings."

The fact that some of the people they're suing also happen to be customers is just a coincidence. Making a statement like this is similar to saying that since I bought a car from a car lot then I can go steal another one from the same lot. If I got sued then they'd be sueing their own customer in that case.

Whether or not they're suing their own customers is not what's at issue. It's whether or not the defendant stole from them. I don't mean to sound pro-RIAA, in fact I think the punishments have NOT been fitting the crimes (as I pointed out earlier), but I don't understand how a lot of people think they should be able to pirate and then complain when they're punished, or why those people think the industry shouldn't protect its interests.

Sorry for the rant, it just bugs me when I hear people say 'sueing their own customers'. I know that one phrase doesn't necessarily indicate your stance on the issue, jak3676, just making a point about the words themselves.


RE: Err, no.
By Spuke on 10/16/2007 6:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
Somewhat unrelated but I think it's hilarious that when corporations lose money that they will expend vast sums of money on lawyers and court fees to keep it from happening. You would think that in a capitalist society, corporations would concentrate on bringing in more revenue to make up for their losses.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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