The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), never known for its diplomacy, has sent letter this week to 13 universities and colleges, demanding that the institutions cooperate in the RIAA’s demand that their students – suspected of downloading music without paying for it – either pay the RIAA (‘settle’) or face a lawsuit. One letter has been sent for each student fingered by the RIAA, for a total of 400 letters across the thirteen universities.
The dubious distinction of being the one of the thirteen universities to receive the most of these love letters from the RIAA is Ohio State, which harbors 50 suspected music abusers.
The letters, called “pre-litigation letters” by the RIAA, ‘offer’ to let the student settle the matter “at a discounted rate” or face a lawsuit.
Said Mitch Bainwol, CEO and Chairman of the RIAA, “We have transformed how we do business.”
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That’s true enough. You have gone from being an industry watchdog to being the industry Cerberus. (If you don’t know who Cerberus was, read about Cerberus here.)
Bainwol went on to say that “A legal marketplace that barely existed in 2003 is now a billion dollar business showing real promise.” (Ah, that’s the real issue, isn’t it? The RIAA finally figured out that there was money to be made in online music.) “Many rogue sites have gone under and fans have a far better understanding of the right and wrong ways to enjoy music. No matter how much we adapt, though, any new business model must always necessarily rely upon a respect for property rights. That’s why we must continue to enforce our rights.”
Still, some at the RIAA are pragmatic about the student population. RIAA president Cary Sherman pointed out that college students “can sometimes be impervious to even the most compelling educational messages.”
I’m sure that many a tuition-paying parent would agree with that.
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