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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 Schrag4 on 10/16/2007 2:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
I think the legal costs associated with going after those that download and distribute music illegally is considered an investment intended to increase legal sales of music in the future from those unwilling to risk the penalties that they see others incurring.

You're right, though, it is risky, since there seems to be backlash. Who knows if it's enough backlash to offset the do-gooders (non-criminal, either the honest or scared). I bet the record industry has some idea of those numbers, and I bet they'll act on them, as any good business would.


RE: Err, no.
By Spuke on 10/16/2007 7:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
Some people say there is a backlash. Most people never heard of the RIAA and I still encounter a few that don't realize it's illegal to download these songs (they think these P2P sites are run by the industry or the bands). I think the drop off in sales is really disinterest in the current music although, IMO, there isn't really any decrease in sales. I see way more platinum artists now than 10 years ago. Go back 20 years and you could name the platinum artists on one hand.


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