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I thought it might be interesting to find out what people here think about copyright & the RIAA and whether their actions are fighting piracy or basically a cartel that inflates & fixes music prices.

The RIAA has sued more than 20,000 people in the United States for copyright infringement & up until now claimed damages on average of $750 per single pirated. However, some of the denfendants have asked for the price record companies charge to legal file-sharing services like Apple for singles sold on iTunes. Well lo & behold it isn't $750, but more like 70 cents....

The pricing information could be crucial for defendant Marie Lindor as she makes the argument that the $750-per-song damages sought by the RIAA are excessive and unconstitutionally severe. Lindor argues that the actual damages suffered by the RIAA are in line with the wholesale price per song, and if that is indeed the case, damages should be capped accordingly—between $2.80 and $7.00 per song—if infringement is proven.

Here's a little background on the case....

Lindor, like hundreds of others, was sued by the RIAA after a John Doe lawsuit resulted in her ISP turning over information to the record labels tying an IP address allegedly used for illegal downloading to her. Lindor has mounted a vigorous defense against the charges rather than settling with the RIAA as a large number of other defendants have.

The record labels are strenuously opposing Lindor's attempts to gain access to the pricing information. They have argued that it shouldn't be divulged, and if it is, it should only be done so under a protective order that would keep the data highly confidential. The RIAA regards the wholesale price per song—widely believed to be about 70¢ per track—as a trade secret.

The pricing data really may not be all that secret. Late in 2005, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launched an investigation into price fixing by the record labels, alleging collusion between the major labels in their dealings with the online music industry. At issue are "most favored nation" clauses that require a distributor to guarantee a record label the best possible rate. Here's how it works: if Apple signs a deal with UMG for X¢ per track and later agrees to pay Sony BMG Y¢ per track, then Apple will also have to pay UMG Y¢ track, assuming X < Y.

The RIAA or Recording Industry Association of America is a trade group that represents most of the major labels & distributors of over 90% of the recorded music created in the United States. In recent years they've went to great lengths to "protect" the copyrights of the music industry from the free file-sharing services, like Kazaa. In doing so, they've....

In one of their latest moves, the RIAA has filed suit against, a Russian online music store. AllOfMP3 sells their music based on volume of data downloaded, and not price per song. A song that costs 99 cents on iTunes is 12 cents at AllOfMP3. The record companies are asking for $1.65 Trillion in damages. That is more than the GDP of the Russian Federation itself....

The companies behind the claim, which include the major record labels Arista Records LLC, Warner Bros. Records Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and UMG Recordings Inc., filed the suit in a New York federal court claiming that "...Mediaservices' sites sell millions of songs by their artists without paying them 'a dime' for the right to do so."

"Defendant's entire business ... amounts to nothing more than a massive infringement of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act and New York law," according to the lawsuit.

As part of their claim, the labels are seeking $150,000 USD for each of the 11 million songs that were downloaded from June to October 2006 from the website. claims they are within their rights, according to Russian copyright laws....

The availability over the Internet of the materials is authorized by the license # LS-3М-05-03 of the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and license # 006/3M-05 of the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR). In accordance to the licenses' terms MediaServices pays license fees for all materials downloaded from the site subject to the Law of the Russian Federation "On Copyright and Related Rights."

Before the lawsuit, United States trade negotiators had threatened the Russian Federation with denied entry to the World Trade Organization over this website. Last October, Visa & Master Card stopped accepting credit card transactions from AllofMP3.

There are a lot of people on the "tubes of the internets" who want the Democrats to have hearings about the RIAA, and investigate the record industry for collusion & price fixing.

Should we?

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:29 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My vote is yes. (10+ / 0-)

    And can I just say, you've been writing really good diaries lately, Rimjob.

    I had no idea that they tried to claim copying cd's to ipods was illegal! That's crazy!

    This reminds me a bit of a few years back when napster was free and they were making a big deal out of it...I always wondered how they could flip out over copying cds and sharing files when people had been making mix tapes and recording songs off the radio for years and yeras. I guess the profit loss is bigger, but just seems hypocritical to care so much about one when they didn't seem to care about the other.

  •  Recommended... (7+ / 0-)

    ...despite the massive Godwin's Law violations in the graphic.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:34:47 PM PST

  •  Don't you mean (7+ / 0-)


    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:35:14 PM PST

  •  Has anyone actually bought a CD recently? (7+ / 0-)

    It's been years for me. Are you sure Sony BMG stopped putting system-hacking software on its CDs? Are you sure no other companies tried similar tactics?  They're all scum and never get a cent from me. I don't share files, but I think the major labels deserve it. End of rant.

    •  Two (3+ / 0-)

      I bought two John Mayer CDs, but I bought them online from Barnes and Noble, and I used a gift card.  See my comment below, however, on the problem with the music industry today.

      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

      by Paul in Berkeley on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:47:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I bought 15 at Tower Records (4+ / 0-)

      and I might have warped space and time to somehow give all 15 to each of my cousins. (ahem)

    •  I had some Tower Records gift cards (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and bought a CD last year, then spent the rest towards the "An Inconvenient Truth" DVD this past holiday season.

      That's it.  And, I haven't shared music files for years - actually, I've purposefully retro-purchased every tune online which I ever downloaded via early P2P days (most were obscure or older items which were out of vogue and/or publishing, but that's neither here nor there).

      Avoiding full album purchases has saved me some significant $$, overall, I feel.

      Do people still use the term "album" any more?

      So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

      by wader on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 11:16:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  CDs (4+ / 0-)

      I have bought hundreds over the last few years. I have also bought hundreds of MP3s (and more than a few FLACs) from

      These two facts are not in the least bit unrelated.

      As a first order approximation, my division of labor has been as follows: If I can reasonably buy the CD, I will. If I can't, I'll buy it from There are dozens of albums there which were never released on CD in America; or were briefly released by labels which have since gone out of business; or were micro-released in 1990 by Random Label X, which has been steadfastly refusing to re-release the CD since then because the artist in question jumped labels, or because they simply don't want to run another pressing, or whatever.

      If I were able to buy the actual, physical CD for those albums, I would have to do so through eBay, or through a fortuitous stroke of luck at a used CD store (another thing which the RIAA has perjurously claimed to be illegal at times). In neither case, of course, would the artists involved ever receive so much as a single thin ruble from my purchase.

      The RIAA is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Speaking as someone who buys their products by the crate-full, they deserve to have their headquarters bulldozed and the ground it squats on sown with salt. I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire, but shitting on them is not out of the question.

    •  I bought some CDs (0+ / 0-)

      But now I'm completely screwed, since totally messed up my order.  Anyone need 3 copies of "Cheap Thrills" by Big Brother and the Holding Company?

      Actually, I think I can do successful returns, since I got free shipping.  Some stuff you need to buy, though.  I don't know of anyone who's offering to share Handel's "Messiah."  I only received two copies of that one.

    •  Hundreds. None from RIAA members. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Every CD I've bought for years has been put out either by small independent producers or the BBC.  Neither of whom behave this way.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Libertarian Liberal

      by neroden on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 01:25:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  re: Has anyone actually bought... (0+ / 0-)

      I buy probably a dozen or two CDs per year; mostly older catalog, including a lot of things I originally purchased on vinyl. I do rip tracks to load on my mp3 player, but I do not share files. I thought the courts had determined that copying to another media for one's own use was legal.  

      I don't share files, but I think the major labels deserve it.

      Well, if you accept the rhetoric of the file-sharing advocates, that makes no sense.  They assert that file-sharing actually HELPS create more music sales, so making their product available on filesharing networks is really doing them a favor.  (Of course, it's possible that the file-sharing advocates are full of shit on that point.)

  •  not extortion. litigation as business strategy (7+ / 0-)

    of course, if she gets her way... they are toast.

    I think the question comes down to whether they are going for reliance or expectation damages.  Since they have a bona fide market price for the commodity, it seems unreasonable to expect the court will ignore the defendant's request to have that information in order to assess damages.

  •  Yes and yes (12+ / 0-)

    I really do believe that people should pay for their downloads. Now, at 45 I guess I qualify as a fogy, and I've only downloaded a handful of tunes, probably fewer than 10. I've always paid for them. I think that musicians should be paid for their creative efforts, and maybe I'm naive, but I hope that some of my payments actually reach the musicians.

    And in my store, I play XM Radio, but I pay the higher commercial fee for it, to cover the commercial-use issues.

    At the same time, I really think that the recording industry is woefully out of touch.  Yeah, I still buy CDs, but I completely understand why so many people prefer to download individual songs. It's all too rare now to buy a CD that has more than one or two decent songs on it. So why should I pay $18.98 for a bunch of mediocre crap, when all I want is one or two songs from the CD?  And I mention the price of $18.98, because the full retail price of CDs is absurd.  

    I note that Tower Records is going out of business, and it seems pretty obvious to me why. They continue to charge inflated prices for CDs, while and iTunes are offering much more affordable alternatives to music-lovers.  It's sad, because I used to love shopping at Tower. But I own a retail store myself now, and you have to be competitive, and you have to be relevant. Tower was neither.

    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:46:28 PM PST

  •  I did notice that CD prices dropped (7+ / 0-)

    slightly after federal courts ruled that record companies fixed prices in 2001.

    I haven't seen most single disc CDs break $16 lately, and many are quite a bit less. But that doesn't mean they're at an affordable level.

    Seriously, if all CDs didn't break the 10 or 12-dollar barrier, I think that a lot of people (not everyone, of course) would go back to spending disposable income on music. Let's face it, the RIAA's profit model is broken and far out of date, and I blame them for bringing the "downloaded music crisis" upon itself for charging $20 a pop for shitty artists.

    Suing for the ability to transfer CDs to iPods? Jesus, how are most people going to get music on those in the first place? Repurchase their collections from the internet? Considering that iTunes has restrictions on how often you can transfer files from one computer to another, don't you think that's a little too much?

    Let the elephant burn!

    by Hirsch on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:49:28 PM PST

    •  I have to admit... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul in Berkeley, Rimjob, wader, Hirsch

      I buy most stuff on itunes now specifically because most albums there are below 12 bucks. Most...not all, but most...and that's convenient and cheap...and besides, who wants most of that packaging anyway. It always ends up getting trashed in my house somehow. It just seems pointless.

      That said, sometimes I'm out at Best Buy and I find cds there that are 9 bucks or something, and if I'm in the mood I'll buy them...but yeah, I rarely buy anything over 14 bucks...only if it's something that I just MUST have.

      •  I wasted gas looking for a good price (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rimjob, tamens, wader, Elise

        on Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Stadium Arcadium" a couple weekends back, because it was my birthday and I was looking for music. Walmart (yes, evil of evils, but bear with me...) had this 2-disc set for $14, but the music was surely edited. I don't go for that.

        So I went to Hastings and put the $18 plus tax down on it. It's really good, so the price was worth it (at 2 CDs, the price is almost justified) Usually, though I try to find music as cheaply as possible, eBay, whatever. Found a Pilot Speed CD for a grand total of $7 last week. I still prefer CDs, though. If my hard drives crash or my iPod is ever stolen, then I still have the originals to which to return.

        Let the elephant burn!

        by Hirsch on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 11:03:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The primary problem with CD' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is that for the most part, they re-issues. In order to get the latest single,you have to re-purchase ANOTHER copy of a song or songs you already own. I stopped buying CD's because I couldn't justify $12 for one song

      "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

      by theRoaringGirl on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 12:20:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They've tried to go after before (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein, Rimjob, Elise, Hirsch

    through various vehicles - including Russian ones.  This latest attempt seems to be their most significant, but perhaps final, gasp in that buildup.

    Legal or not, AllofMP3 is an awesome service, IMHO.  Even if their prices went up, I'd still enjoy their interface and ability to select from (usually) a wide variety of unprotected formats and levels of desired sampling quality.

    Oh, and I feel that the RIAA is a money bank more interested in their centralized role (with associated coffers) than in fair pay for the artists - let alone competitive consumer pricing.

    So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

    by wader on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 11:08:44 PM PST

    •  I almost bought an account on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Elise

      AllofMP3 after seeing it in action. It's quite good, and I don't blame people for using it, considering that CDs aren't as cheap as they should be.

      Hopefully the Dems will look into it. Hell, reforming the music industry might just be another brick in the wall of getting the economy back to a healthy level for everyone!

      Let the elephant burn!

      by Hirsch on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 11:14:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  AllofMP3 is terrific. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Radlein, Rimjob, wader, Elise, kurt

      It is precisely what people want.
      -No DRM
      -Great selection
      -Easy to browse/sample FULL songs
      -Easy to buy/download
      -Buyer gets to select encoding format AND bitrate.

      I can't tell you how many times I've wanted an album of something but then passed on it because I couldn't find a place to buy it and download it online. If I can't buy it and download it online, I usually don't buy it.

      And you are right. People still would buy from AllofMP3 at a higher price (and their prices are MUCH higher than they were when they first opened) because they are providing a service people want.

      BTW, if the RIAA is successfull against AllofMP3, I fully expect them to go after people who have used the service. I'm surprised they haven't started to do this already.

      •  There's the old Democratic defense, at least (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, mrd in nyc

        "We couldn't know that the intelligence (legality) as falsified by the Bush Administration ( at the time.  If we knew then what we know now, we never would have voted to give President Bush war powers (purchased and download music from"

        So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

        by wader on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 12:24:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, Elise, Hirsch

    It's hard to see where they have any basis for claiming damages such as those, even punitively.

    The bigger question is whether we need to look more closely at the whole system of copyrights as it stands.  A law history expert would know better than I, but I believe copyrighting things like songs is a relatively recent invention.  Some proportionality is most likely needed.  A novel, for example, is a much more involved work than a pop song about teenage relationship angst.  As such, the novel probably deserves much greater protection than the pop song.  The tricky part comes in finding a way to legally differentiate them.

    Live Free or Die-words to live by

    by ForFreedom on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 11:53:55 PM PST

  •  Copyright Law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Copyright laws were changed back in the 80's to extend the copyrights far beyond their normal term - otherwise, Mickey Mouse would have fallen out of copyright - by now, you would think that everything published or recorded before 1956 would fall into public domain.  Big bucks prevented that.

  •  If you had ever written a piece of music (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of unique and lasting value, and wanted to get paid for it instead of giving it away for free, you might feel differently about this.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 04:53:18 AM PST

  •  Pretty heavy duty symbolism here, Rim (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Having said that, let me say that the whole "copyright damages" from individual acts of copying is utter horsepucky. The fact is, the RIAA in particular is suing it CUSTOMERS for moonshine - for couldabeen, shouldabeen, wouldabeen "profits." And the fact is, the actual effect of any act of copying on copyright profits is indeterminate, EVEN TO THE PERSON DOING THE ACT OF COPYING! - it could displace a sale, sure, but it could, as well, generate a sale for the same company (like a loss leader), or it might have no effect on sales (because the person wouldn't have bought the thing in any case). All this is predicated on the undeniable fact that with digital recording the marginal cost of production is nearly zero, and typically what cost there is is PAID BY THE CONSUMER!

    Yeah, the copyright industry is a lot like the medical insurance industry - it exists as a parasite on the body politic, using extorted profits for the purchase of protection from corrupt or clueless politicians.

    The name is not the thing named, the map is not the territory. -- Gregory Bateson

    by semiot on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 05:42:25 AM PST

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