Tuesday, September 09, 2003

24 hours after offering amnesty, the RIAA turns their campaign of terror on individuals

Everyone is talking about it. The WASHINGTON POST leads with coverage of the story that big bad Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is now going after some 261 INDIVIDUAL file sharers.

"The RIAA suits seek an injunction to stop the defendants' file sharing, as well as damages and court costs. Copyright law allows for damages of up to $150,000 per infringement -- in other words, per swapped song," The Washington Post noted. More from The Boston Globe: "Accusing the defendants of copyright infringement, the music association is requesting statutory damages of $750 to $150,000 for each song, bringing the potential liability of some file-sharers into the millions of dollars."

According to the POST, thousands (of) lawsuits against fileswappers are expected in the coming months as the RIAA looks to make examples of "the worst digital pirates.

Of the "evil doers" ... a 71 year-old grandpa (who says his grandkids used his computer) and a 12 Year old girl!

"I thought mom had subscribed to a service. Why did they pick me?!," she said of the fact that her mother paid $29.95 a month for Kaaza's subsciption download service and it placed her as the RIAA public enemy number one.

This is as much the very face of crime, as an 80 year old grandmother being searched at the airport is the very face of terror. So, as if taking a college students tuition isn't enough, now they're going after retirement checks and a kid's allowance.

Does anyone think that elderly Derwood Pickle wants bootleg copies of RUN DMC? Does the RIAA think that this 12 yr. old kid is going to ever BUY music because she's been SUED BY MUSIC INDUSTRY? Not a chance.

And with as much as 60% of downloaders being TEENAGERS, the RIAA is truly biting that hand that they want to feed them.

Senator Norm Coleman gets it. He has pledged to hold hearings on the matter and force the RIAA to explain themselves stated in an interview:

"They (the RIAA) have a legitimate interest that needs to be protected, but are they protecting it in a way that's too broad and overreaching?" Coleman said. "I don't want to make criminals out of 60 million kids, even though kids and grandkids are doing things they shouldn't be doing."

The audience is organizing a rebellion thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and BOYCOT-RIAA.COM.

One angry mother of three teenage boys has banned RIAA music from her home: "I'll spend music money on anti- RIAA t-shirts!" She claims to spend $5,000 a year on music for her kids. Not anymore.

And one angry music fan is fighting back by counter-suing the RIAA. The "anonymous" California computer user went to court Thursday to challenge the recording industry's file-trading subpoenas, charging that they are unconstitutional and violate her right to privacy.

"This is more invasive than someone having secret access to the library books you check out or the videos you rent," Glenn Peterson, one of the attorneys, said in a statement. "The recent efforts of the music industry to root out piracy have addressed a uniquely contemporary problem with Draconian methods--good old-fashioned intimidation combined with access to personal information that would make George Orwell blush."

Slashdot reports it goes even further as the RIAA subpeona's FAMILY MEMBERS of suspected file swappers!

And that 71 year old grandpa or that 12 year old little girl? Because they are being sued, they can't take advantage of the RIAAs new program of AMNESTY.

The RIAA does have the right. E-R gives them that. The livelihoods of not only oversexed, over boozed rock stars, but of song writers, engineers, and even studio musicians are in jeopardy. TECH TV has this quote today:

"Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation," RIAA president Cary Sherman said in a statement. "But when your product is being regularly stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action. We simply cannot allow online piracy to continue destroying the livelihoods of... everyone in the music industry."

That is certainly cause for concern. HOWEVER, the RIAA has long had the opportunity to see an emerging technology and use it to BOOST sales. Instead, they lazily relied on the "tried and true" and let illegal activity take the lead. Now, while pay per download services like APPLE iTUNES MUSIC STORE), VIRGIN, BUYMUSIC.COM and even Berltesman's soon to be newly reborn NAPSTER service will show record sales in legal downloads, the RIAA will makes examples of the weak and ignorant in order to make us play by their rules.

Sure, in the short term they'll get Jimmy's lemonade stand money, but in the long term - music sales will continue to plummet. Even UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP knows it as they have announced plans to LOWER prices in an effort to attract file swappers away from their computers and back into the music store. And that's a step. But they need to tell the RIAA to mellow out a bit in order for the new prices to attract attention.

If you want to send the RIAA a message, click on the following links and make your feelings known - in fact, DONATE TO THEM in the fight to send the message to the RIAA that their tactics are bad form:


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