EFF report on four years of RIAA vs P2P

EFF has published the latest installment in its annual RIAA v. The People, "Four Years Later," which is a comprehensive, exhaustively researched and cited white-paper on the RIAA's campaign against music downloaders. The paper starts with the earliest days, when the record companies went after companies manufacturing portable music players, and continues up to the present day, with these companies suing tens of thousands of individual music fans (including people who don't own computers, small children, military servicepeople, dead people, etc), often for sums that end up bankrupting them. EFF describes other RIAA initiatives, such as a deceptive "amnesty" campaign, advising a MIT student to drop out of school in order to pay her fines, and using universities and Congress to try to shake down students for thousands of dollars.

Then the paper moves into a section on empirical studies of P2P activity during the four year campaign -- and shows that the "educational campaign" has been a total failure, with more Americans sharing files than ever, and downloading from P2P at forty times the rate that they use authorized download services like iTunes.

EFF closes by proposing a sensible solution -- stop suing fans and figure out how to make money off of their preferred means of acquiring music. To do this, EFF argues that the labels should offer a "blanket license" to fans or ISPs, a flat fee that legalizes downloading music, the proceeds from which can be paid to artists and other rightsholders. This is basically the same system used by radio stations and live venues to legalize their use of music and while it's not without its problems (the collection societies have a history of screwing indie artists and labels, and aggressively expanding their scope to include things like kindergarten classrooms), it sure beats the alternative -- sue, harass and alienate customers.

Or take the case of Cecilia Gonzalez, a recently laid-off mother of five, who owes five major record companies a total of $22,500 for illegally downloading off the Internet. That's more than three-fourths of what she made the previous year as a secretary. Ironically, Gonzalez primarily downloaded songs she already owned on CD--the downloads were meant to help her avoid the labor of manually loading the 250 CDs she owns onto her computer. In fact, the record companies are going after a steady customer--Gonzalez and her husband spent about $30 per month on CDs. Nevertheless, the RIAA insisted that it would not consider a settlement for less than $3000, an amount that would bankrupt the Gonzalez family.54
Link

8

  1. First off, yes, the RIAA are obnoxious, heavy-handed strong-arming idiots, agreed.

    But in the Gonzales case, she first claimed that she had downloaded 1300 songs because she was trying to decide what to buy, that she would “listen and buy, listen and buy.” She later changed her story to claim that she was mainly downloading songs that she already owned on CD.

    Then there’s the issue of someone with five children to clothe and feed, and not enough money in the bank to pay a $3000 fine, spending $30 a month on CDs and having a collection of 250 CDs (which must have cost a total of $1500-3500 to purchase originally, depending on how many were bought used vs new).

  2. I understand that RIAA commits a mistake. The radio and the ISPS do not have the same position.

  3. So I should feel sympathy for someone simply because she makes less than some number and is too lazy to rip her own CDs? While I commend the EFF’s attempts to change how the music industry works in the internet era, I’m tired of these ‘RIAA sues poor people, so they must be Satan’ boo-hoo stories. People *know* it’s a no-no to download music they aren’t paying for, and yet they *still do it*. Why we should feel more sorry for the poor ones vs the rich ones is a mystery to me when they are both doing wrong.

  4. just got the news that the RIAA has come after nearly 100 kids at the local university here (University of Virginia) at $750 a song….ugh.

  5. scrw thm. lt m d. rtsts nd t fnlly gt t n thr hds tht thy dn’t nd ths bg lbls nymr. dn’t wnt sngl dm f mn gng t thr pckts.

  6. University of Connecticut just gave word that they’ll be forwarding the “settlement letters” to students.

  7. Phasor3000: Then there’s the issue of someone with five children to clothe and feed, and not enough money in the bank to pay a $3000 fine, spending $30 a month on CDs and having a collection of 250 CDs (which must have cost a total of $1500-3500 to purchase originally, depending on how many were bought used vs new).

    P3K, there’s a big difference between “having the cash on hand to buy two or three CDs per month” and “having $3000 available all at once”–especially when one has five children to clothe and feed. I don’t have that child-load in my house, but I’ve been in a similar position for years–enough spare cash to buy relatively inexpensive things, but the only time I generally have over $3K in the bank is right after payday. (And the total value of the CDs she already owns is irrelevant, as they were bought a couple at a time over a long time.)

  8. scrw thm. lt m d. rtsts nd t fnlly gt t n thr hds tht thy dn’t nd ths bg lbls nymr. dn’t wnt sngl dm f mn gng t thr pckts.

    Wow dude, I think you forgot some vowels.

Comments are closed.