If you are one of the 31 unlucky USF network users that get sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, there are some important things to remember.
Remember the RIAA is an organization waging an anti-piracy campaign so vehemently that it’s alienating the 18 to 24-year-old demographic most companies in the entertainment business bend over backward to please.
Remember the RIAA does not perform competent cost/benefit analyses of its actions. Take Napster: What was once an isolated group on a small network exploded into dozens of peer-to-peer networks used to share files, and it’s a good bet that explosion was due to the attention paid to Napster by the RIAA. In business, after all, any publicity is good publicity.
Remember the RIAA’s war against file sharing has made it an outcast in many circles, including among many businesses. While waging its expensive and time-consuming war, the RIAA has done nothing to encourage or accommodate consumers’ changing demands. The RIAA has shown little interest in online media, except for its repeated and highly publicized attempts to quash it by demanding online music providers – namely iTMS – provide it with a profit margin similar to that of CDs. Though the RIAA’s cut of iTMS sales has never been made public, in 2003 Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a group of financial analysts, “most of the money goes to the music companies.”
Remember the RIAA is supported by a number of companies – Universal, Time Warner, EMI/Virgin, Sony and Bertelsmann, to name a few – that not only persecute their customers through the RIAA, but also don’t treat their business partners well. Thus the creation of the Recording Artists’ Coalition, an organization comprised of musicians demanding better treatment from the recording industry.
Remember the RIAA is in the process of petitioning the U.S. Copyright Office to revamp licensing rate structure. This is a move that would afford the RIAA a larger cut of music sales and artists a smaller one. In sworn testimony outlining the industry’s petition, RIAA President Cary Sherman wrote, “This is not like 1981, or even 1987 or 1997, and the rates and rate structure we thought would work then will not work now.”
Remember, this is the same RIAA claiming it needs to eliminate piracy to defend the interests of artists.
Finally, remember to say nothing prior to obtaining professional legal counsel. In many cases of this nature, the plaintiff is looking for an easy way out, seeking to take advantage of the legal na’vetÃ© of its targets. No individual, student or otherwise, should accept a compromise without being fully aware of his or her legal rights.