In its continuing battle against Internet piracy, industry group the Recording Industry Association of America
is turning to artists to back it up.
Over the last few weeks, the RIAA has sent a letter to the management of
big-name artists including Mick Jagger, Sarah McLachlan, and others, asking them to "speak out against Internet piracy."
Specifically, the letter--which was first reported by MP3.com, a site covering issues and news
surrounding the MPEG
1, Audio Layer 3 format--appeals to the artists' managers' business sense.
"We want to bring to your attention an issue that is of the utmost
importance to the future of the entire music community and the way that
music--your music--is delivered throughout the world," states the letter,
which was obtained by CNET News.com. "Consider the possibilities: Anyone
can put a CD or just a song into cyberspace and, with the click of a mouse,
send it worldwide?."
The industry group goes on to address how individual artists are affected.
In a note sent to one artist's management, for example, RIAA officials
wrote: "We recently discovered an MP3 site which contained your most recent
release....As you may know, MP3 sites offer full-length
sound recordings that are easily downloadable, for free.
"The RIAA is hoping to gather a group of artists who are opposed to this
unauthorized distribution and use of their creative works," they added.
The campaign is "part of an overall effort to educate the artist community about some of these issues out there vis-à-vis Internet piracy," Joel Flatow, vice president of government affairs and artist relations for the RIAA, said today.
The artist's manager could not be immediately reached for
comment. A spokesperson at
Nettwerk Management, which
represents Sarah McLachlan, confirmed the company had received the letter
but declined to comment further on it or anything pertaining to MP3 or
The RIAA, a powerful industry group that represents record labels, has been
fierce in its fight against Internet piracy and MP3. The MP3 format, which
in and of itself is not illegal, is favored by Net music fans and pirates
because it offers high-quality sound files that can be easily posted to the
Web and shared. Last week, the group filed suit against Diamond Multimedia to halt the
shipment of its portable MP3 player.
The industry group also has sued individuals for posting MP3 sites,
and helped author an amendment
to copyright legislation on its way to President Clinton that would require
Webcasters such as the nascent Internet radio firms to pay an additional
license fee to record companies.
The MP3 format has been a thorn in the side of many record industry
luminaries because its accessibility makes it popular among music fans
online and a potential threat to CD sales. Some smaller artists have
embraced the format as an easy, inexpensive distribution tool.
In an effort to address the growing demand for music delivered via the Net,
record companies and other music firms have begun offering songs for download online--as a
bonus for buying a CD, for example--via more secure formats such as those
provided by Liquid Audio and a2b Music.
In its letter, the RIAA asked that artists contribute a quote for the group
to use in its campaign. For example, the letter to the artist's manager states:
"We are hoping that [the artist] would be willing to provide a short quote
outlining his feelings about piracy and how it affects him both as an
artist and songwriter."
However, the group also provided some quotes for the artists to "borrow" if
they didn't want to provide their own. "If [the artist] is not
comfortable providing a personal quote, please feel free to have him lend
his name to one of the quotes we have provided," the letter says. Some of
the quotes are as follows:
Don't trash us by pirating sound recordings on the Net. Get real. Get
Like all Americans, I have the right to control both the reproduction
and distribution of my work. It's called copyright and it's my prerogative.
I support the RIAA for supporting me by stopping Internet piracy.
Internet piracy is theft, which as far as I can remember is illegal.
My work is my music. My music is my work. If you steal my music on the
Internet you are taking something that doesn't belong to you. Remember, I
sing for my supper.
Call it whatever you want but piracy is one thing: wrong. The RIAA is
representing the rights of the recording industry and recording artists in
protecting our intellectual property. Don't steal any songs.
"There are a lot of artists who are very passionate and articulate about the issue themselves," Flatow said, naming Don Henley and Johnny Cash in particular.
He said the sample quotes were a way to save busy artists time if they wanted a simple way to be involved in the campaign, or "food for thought."
However, "there's nothing better than an artist who speaks from the heart," he added.
Message boards on MP3.com were abuzz with music fans sounding off about the
"This is a really misguided endeavor by the RIAA," wrote one participant.
"Artists have legitimate needs that need to be addressed and this, clearly,
is not one of them. Get legit? Get a clue!"
"I don't see why they are yelling so loud that MP3s are evil," wrote
another. "I don't see a problem with
collecting/making/etc. MP3s. As long as you don't make money from them.
Only the artist should be able to profit from the music. If I'm not putting
them onto CDs and selling them, I don't see a problem."
A third wrote: "My biggest problem with this is that the RIAA is giving
professional music artists the false impression that they're somehow
defending them. Last time I looked, the RIAA was the one getting most of
the profits, and the artists got a mere pittance?The RIAA needs to grow up
and realize they don't deserve all the money from the sale of CDs--the