Technology and Business Law Blog

Can RIAA Stop File Sharing by Launching Lawsuits?

Last week on April 7th, an article of mine titled “Recording Industry Should Strategize, Not Sue, Over File Sharing” was published in the San Francisco Daily Journal in the Forum column, which more or less is an opinion section on a topic.

In essence what the article stated was that  RIAA’s methodology of suing all and sundry and launching a massive litigation campaign has not produced the desired results and file sharing if anything has only increased. In fact people like me who don’t necessarily advocate Internet piracy are taking a stand agains RIAA, because they don’t agree with the way RIAA, which is made up of a handful of large recording companies has been and continues to intimidate ordinary people who don’t understand the issues involved and what they are being sent a demand notice for. RIAA gets these people to cough up the money by settling out of court and then funneling the money collected back to sending demand notices to more people, and none of the money is given to the artists themselves or used to help out smaller recording companies.

People who are against file sharing state that it is similar to stealing a CD from a store, now this argument is based on legal and moral grounds, but what is moral to someone is immoral to someone else, it is real subjective. Looking at the legal standars the Copyright Act of 1976 was enacted way before the digital era and application of the pre-Internet day law to today’s issues is outdated and the Act by itself needs to be rewritten keeping in mind the technologies of this era.

Professor Larry Lessig the founder of Creative Commons and a law professor at Stanford law school in his book titled ‘Free Culture’ states that “creativity depends upon the owners of creativity having less than perfect control.” Today’s age is  the age of copyright infringement and the traditional rules of copyright do not apply to this new culture and peer to peer sharing is an off shoot of athis age of copyright infringement.

What basically RIAA is fighting for is control– control over money and control over the artist’s work and it is humbug to say that it is fighting Internet piracy for in tthe earlier days when the cassette recorder came along RIAA was totally oppossed to it and wanted the blank tapes to be taxed.

In any event, file sharing or music swapping is not going to stop either through the Internet or by other physical means of sharing hard drives, burning CD’s etc, so if RIAA really wants to stop the piracy of music then it would participate in earnest and enter into negotiations to establish an alternative licensing system which would legalize file sharing.


April 8, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

1 Comment »

  1. I have to disagree with your position that RIAA greed or vague moral grounds are the primary arguments against file sharing licensed material. The real problem is the elimination of meaningful financial incentive for creative artists to devote their lives to producing top quality work. The most important cultural works of the 19th and 20th centuries were written “on spec” hoping for a hit that would pay back the enormous time investment required to create an important work.

    Prior to digital technology, sound recordings and films were mechanically reproduced. The public paid for public performances through licensed jukeboxes or theatre tickets. A percentage of these mechanical royalties were returned to the original authors and composers, which provided them with a steady and reliable source of income while they continued working on new creative works. When a recording or film was a hit, the author or composer shared in the wealth, creating a strong profit motive to put forth their very best efforts.

    Digital recordings predictably changed the business model. However, the loss of a meaningful profit motive for authors and composers has left us with a junk culture where music and video may be free, but you get what you pay for. There may be no going back from file sharing, but consider the cultural cost.

    Comment by Ben Stough | April 16, 2008 | Reply

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