RIAA Radio Blast Eyes Next Possible Targets: CD Burners, Radio Listeners
RIAA's recent case and a pending case in the UK provide some insight
into whom it might prosecute next
Jason Mick (Blog)
- October 9, 2007 8:54
AM found at dailytech.com
The Recording Industry Association of
America is the oft villainized copyright-infringement watchdog for the music
industry in the U.S. Its letters to music sharers have led to thousands of
settlement over the last few years. Now, following its recent
success in the jury civil trial Capitol Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas,
which resulted in a jury verdict of $222,000 in damages, many wonder who the
RIAA might target next.
The RIAA might have given a clue during testimony by music industry lawyers in
the Thomas case. During the case Jennifer Pariser, the head of
litigation for Sony BMG, was called to testify. Pariser noted that music
labels make no money on bands touring, radio, or merchandise, so they are
particularly vulnerable to file sharing. She went on to say that when
people steal music the label is harmed.
Pariser believes in a very broad definition of stealing that is echoed by many
supporters in the RIAA. She believes that users who buy songs are entitled
to one, and only one copy. Burning CDs is just another name for stealing,
in her mind. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I
suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a
purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'."
Such logic has been a driving force behind efforts to "rights manage"
music including the current DRM found on Apple's iTunes files and Microsoft's
DRM, which is also widespread.
While it seems unlikely that the RIAA would be able to effectively identify
"burners", such litigation remains a legal possibility for the RIAA
and major music labels, in the minds of their lawyers.
Another possible avenue of legal action for the RIAA is the pursuit of
businesses that play unauthorized music in stores. The Performing Rights
Society (PRS), Britain's version of the RIAA, may give the RIAA some possible
its pending litigation. The PRS is suing the Kwik Fit Group, a car
repair shop in Edinburgh, for £200,000 in damages. The case revolves
around the complaint that Kwik Fit employees brought in personal radios which
they played while working on cars, which could be heard by colleagues and
customers. The PRS says this amounts to a public "performance"
and should have entailed royalties.
The possible implications if this litigation succeeds are numerous. The
RIAA could pursue retailers like Borders Books who play music in their restrooms
or on their store floors. They could also seek action against small
businesses that have radios in their stores.
These possible future targets may seem outlandish or farfetched, but the RIAA
and its foreign equivalents have some heavy legal firepower. It hires many
of the country's top lawyers and have gained millions in settlements and
recently have added the $222,000 Thomas verdict to its coffers.
Some fear the RIAA is overstepping its bounds, including in the Thomas
case. Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, and strong advocate of fair
use, recently went on
record stating that the trial verdict was excessive and "way out of
line" with other cases of this nature.
The Bush Administration feels that the case was very fair and was a positive
example of our nation's laws at work.
"Cases such as this remind us strong enforcement is a significant part of
the effort to eliminate piracy, and that we have an effective legal system in
the U.S. that enables rights holders to protect their intellectual
With the RIAA's powerful legal, financial, and political backers nobody can
truly say what it impossible for it to accomplish. Now as it is in the
midst of delivering its eighth
wave of infringement letters to colleges, it may soon be turning its
attention to CD burners or businesses that play music in front of customers.