The RIAA is going after 5.7 million people who it claims download copyrighted material
without paying for it. The RIAA says it will bring every last one of them to court,
sue them and maybe even send them to prison.
It is, of course, a scare tactic. One more vicious attack at the very audience the music
industry needs to survive. But, the music industry doesn't seem to care that trying
to make up for a 26-percent loss in revenue-which it claims is caused by downloading-could
end its business all together.
? Let's look at why this new lawsuit policy is a bag of gas and try to do
Suppose the RIAA sues a mere percentage of the 5.7 million they are after? How about 50,000 people,
obviously most of them of college age. We assume this because the bulk of the so-called pirates are
probably buying more music than they download, even if most of it is not the top-selling stuff these
days. All right, so now the RIAA Has 50,000 lawsuits amounting to billions of dollars
(RIAA claims it will sue to the tune of $150,000 per downloaded song
? Do any of the 50,000 being sued try to fight back? All these people need is one
lawyer, a sharp one looking to make a name for him or herself. They will come on consignment for
this task-to find a place in history with a landmark decision. The RIAA has to cope with 50,000
cases. Just how large is the RIAA's legal staff
Well, let us say that no matter what happens the RIAA wins 50,000 of these suits by settlement.
Bad blood? You bet. Maybe those 50,000 people who have to fork over settlement money are soured
by the music industry and just stop buying music. Maybe some of them continue to get their music
through another form of "piracy," one the RIAA hasn't been able to nab? Either way or any way you
cut this, does the RIAA get back any of its 26-percent loss?
Nope. These people have not been "taught a lesson," they have been exiled. Speaking of that,
what if some of them are tossed into jail for downloading music? This is going to look great
for the purveyors of life's rich art. The RIAA won't only lose those customers; it will pick
up some of the most hideous press it could ever imagine.
Picture this possible story. "A 24-year-old imprisoned last year for downloading copyrighted
music from an internet site, who was brought to trial by the RIAA, was found dead in his jail
cell today. Authorities say the boy was so brutally assaulted sexually…" Or any such horror
story that may be ignited from a jail sentence for this "crime."
Should, on the other hand, the RIAA begin to take these people to court and be snagged by legal
fees and, even, a Supreme Court judgement that waters down the "crime," the music industry will
suffer more. Corporate heads will roll and the industry will be in a shamble.
The threats, the actions and the all-mighty attitude motivating the RIAA is the stuff that
revolutions are made of. Fear may be a great weapon, but once the frightened become brave,
the empire is toppled and cowards become guerillas.
Make no mistake about it-the RIAA has already lost this war. New laws for copyrights and
royalties could be the result of its trying to corral and change the mindsets of 5.7
million people. The RIAA has drawn a line in the sand, per se, without considering any
other options of dealing with their product and the swarm of new technology that appears
faster than you can say "Apple."
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