I don't like the RIAA and never will

Don Reisinger is fed with the RIAA and has had enough. He tells you why he can't stand the organization and never will.

I really don't like the RIAA and I never will. You've probably heard that said by thousands of people on the Internet and some have said worse than I, but as I learn more about this organization and the industry it "protects", I dislike it more each day. If you ask me, this organization is the lowest of the lows.

Does that sound a little harsh? Good. The fact of the matter is the RIAA has operated for years as the so-called "recording industry's protector" and has tried numerous times to tell the world that what it's doing to people all over the United States is best for us all.

And while some misguided artists have come out in favor of the organization's practices, the vast majority of people in the recording industry have started to realize that the RIAA is a a PR nightmare for musicians and is the root of much of the evil you see in this anti-piracy campaign.

Is there ever an excuse for trying to force a woman's 10-year old daughter into a deposition that could incriminate her mother? Is there ever an excuse for suing people for a ridiculous sum of money? Is there ever an excuse for battling the low-hanging fruit when huge overseas piracy cartels are free to roam and steal music? Never.

Every now and then, some organizations come along that make me wonder what's wrong with this world. How did we ever get to a point where an organization is free to hunt poor college students in the hopes of more cash? How did we get to a point in this country where people are being charged more than 100 times the value of a song because they allegedly pirated it? Am I missing something?

The fact that the RIAA has been allowed to roam free and do what it has done over the past decade is both disgusting and appalling. While music pirates continue to make this organization look bad all over the world, the RIAA is going after US citizens to make up for all of its piracy losses. And in so doing, the organization has single-handedly shown how despicable it can be.

In just the past six years, the RIAA has allegedly: tried to acquire privacy data from ISPs in the hopes of finding pirates; mostly (albeit not completely) abandoned its practice of going after services in favor of individuals; attempted to sue a mother and after losing, sued her children; was forced to pay attorneys fees because of "alleged abusive legal action"; filed a lawsuit against AllofMP3.com for $1.65 trillion (11 million songs times $150,000 per song); tried to sue someone based on the term "making available"; and had a case thrown out because a judge called the RIAA's specifications for damages -- $750 per song -- unconstitutional because the real cost to the recording industry is just $0.70.

And it's that last point that tells you everything you ever needed to know about the RIAA. This organization has the gall to sue people for more than 1,000 times the value of a song because it was pirated? Wow.

And yet, the organization actually won a court case against Jammie Thomas last year doing just that. According to the court documents, Thomas was forced to pay $222,000 for allegedly pirating 24 songs. In other words, the RIAA was able to win a case where the damages amount to a whopping $9,250 per song.

If these facts sound staggering, they should. But what the RIAA is quick to point out is that it's doing this for the artists and the lawsuits have been effective. Of course, most recent surveys suggest otherwise.

According to one report released in the Journal of Law and Economics, the lawsuits have not been effective at all. In fact, the organization has only been able to reduce the number of files currently available on large file-sharing sites, but smaller sites and piracy in general has plateaued or steadily grown at a slow rate.

Knowing this, why has the RIAA, an organization who has gone on record saying " college students have yet to reach their full development ", continued its practice of suing or settling out of court? Simply put, the organization believes it works.

But alas, lawsuits don't work and the chances of the RIAA winning big cases going forward are slim. And although it's quick to cite its stance as the artist's friend, don't be so quick to believe it. If the RIAA was truly the "artist's friend", wouldn't it give all of its lawsuit cash back to the people who create the music? Wouldn't it to fight long and hard for artist rights in music and help them get out from under the thumb of the recording industry?

Of course not.

The RIAA is and always has been the voice of the record labels that enjoy keeping the artists hungry while the executives enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor. The RIAA isn't doing what's best for the artists, it's doing what's best for the record labels and those that pay their salaries. Knowing this, why does it feel the need to pretend it's on the artist's side? Doesn't it know that we can see through every lawsuit and ever PR move for what this organization really is?

The RIAA is one of the worst organizations in the world and one that should be held in contempt until it changes its practices and stops hunting easy prey. Is piracy right? Of course not. But neither are the practices the RIAA currently employs.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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