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The RIAA Is Watching YouThere are many parallels between the music industry and politics. Politicians have discovered that in a nation completely disinterested in politics, the only way to rally the people is by scaring the hell out of them. How scared can they make you of a possibility before you’ll sign all your rights away? How afraid can you be of a word before you’ll pass laws banning it from public speech? How afraid can you be of a statistically unlikely scenario involving a gun before you’ll demand all weapons (other than the nuclear kind) be done away with in America? Overblown examples of worst case scenarios meant to shock people into a desired behavior. It’s been effective, thus far, for political agendas. So why isn’t it having the same kind of success in music?

The RIAA was established to protect the interests of the recording industry, specifically the major labels. It’s debatable whether they are serving major labels as their muscle or their scapegoat, perhaps both. The RIAA are the ones responsible for not only determining the precious metal status of the records they’re affiliated with, but also for suing the pants off of old ladies, dead people and children. They led the way against Napster and other file-sharing programs, a clearly effective campaign. They are now targeting the websites who post the music made available to them through the promotional efforts of the labels themselves, surely in an attempt to deter free downloading of any kind, or perhaps to scare the blogs and sites who do not have permission. Who knows…and who really cares? Maybe some people wet themselves over a cease and desist from the RIAA, but more and more cases are coming into question as people realize you actually need evidence to sue someone. Oh, and 99 cent downloads are not worth more than 99 cents.

According to the RIAA website, they claim “RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.” I guess that means the majority of music released is not “legitimate” because there is no way that even comes close to accurate. Speaking of accuracy, why is the RIAA having such a hard time coming up with evidence to support their claims against these completely random people they file suit against? And who is doing their math? $750+ per song on a computer can add up fast, even if you don’t include legally acquired songs (which the RIAA includes). Sure, we look the other way when it comes to measuring albums shipped instead of those actually sold, but charging more than a thousand times the actual value for possibly stolen material is questionable.

Truth is, the RIAA only represents a small fraction of this industry, and its the fraction with all the trouble. These meaningless lawsuits and scare tactics are completely trivial and ineffective because they aren’t operating in the reality where everyone else lives. Artists need to be protected, not labels. But even with the RIAA to look out for major labels, they are stifling the efforts made by these labels to move into new media. Suing the websites that promote your artists? Are you crazy? They are attempting to legally keep change from happening, but it has already happened. The RIAA is supposed to support the interests of the recording industry, but we seem to have moved on without them, including major labels.


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