October 6, 2005

Recording Industry Counter-Sued for ... Well, Pretty Much Everything

From Recording Industry vs. The People via the Electronic Frontier Foundation newsletter: "Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of 'outrage', and deceptive business practices." The suit charges, among other things, that Ms. Anderson was contacted by legal council for the RIAA in regard to music downloading (which she has never done) and offered to allow them to inspect her computer to prove her innocence, only to discover that they already had, by employing a company known as MediaSentry to illegally "spy" on private individuals' computers. An employee of Settlement Support Center, a front for the RIAA responsible for their racketeering activities (that is, for threatening people with baseless lawsuits in order to exact "settlement" money from them), acknowledged that they were aware of Ms. Anderson's innocence but could not drop the suit because that would encourage others to resist the RIAA's "enforcement" attempts. In case you read legalese, the actual court filing is here.

This seems like a big deal. Perhaps the RIAA will finally get it through their head that if they don't stop suing their most loyal customers (and accidentally suing random other people), they will have no more business. Increasingly, people are fed up with them, fed up with the system, fed up with the way they exploit both artists and fans to fill their pockets, when the "services" they supposedly provide, of music recording and distribution, have been rendered all but obsolete by technology. I like having CDs, in nice cases, with album covers, and the whole bit. I'm willing to pay for them. But very few of them are worth $18! Lately, actually, I haven't been downloading music, I've been buying used CDs from half.com. When I have a choice between a brand new CD at $18, and a used CD in great condition at $4, what do you think I'm going to do? It costs a few thousand dollars to record a CD. I suppose it can be more in some cases, and they spend money on the album covers, etc., but independent bands who pay for their own recording fees pay a few thousand dollars. CDs then cost about three cents each to mass produce. So you produce 10,000 CDs for a total cost of, say, $3,300, and wholesale them at the modest price of $10 each. That's a $100,000 return on a $3,300 investment and, guess what, the profit goes to record executives, not artists! This is for a relatively small record. As you go up in production and sales, the profit margin gets even bigger. Meanwhile, the artists make their money almost exclusively through concert tickets. Now, true, the record companies invested in the CD production plants, but imagine how much more money an artist could make by distributing directly to the Internet! Unfortunately, most recording artists don't seem to be that smart, and still think they are getting a great deal by getting signed to a record label. Maybe this was the case back when Lynyrd Skynyrd released "Workin' For MCA," but it is certainly no longer true. Artists and fans get nothing but ripped off by the record labels.

I would really like to see this case get some publicity. I think that the actions of the RIAA are both stupid and reprehensible. Perhaps the case will be sufficient to soil their image so that Congress will stop listening to their crap... Although this is probably wishful thinking, since the RIAA and MPAA own Senators Hatch and Leahy, and for reasons I completely fail to understand Utah and Vermont continue to re-elect them.

Posted by Kenny at October 6, 2005 3:58 PM
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