Category Archives: riaa

RIAA Threatens Lawsuit Against HitPiece

There was an uproar on Twitter as several music artists discovered something horrible. An account called “joinhitpiece” appeared to be making – and trying to sell – NFTs of artist’s songs, and their album art, without the artist’s permission.

This led to the RIAA threatening a lawsuit against HitPiece over what the RIAA called “flagrant” IP violations. Billboard reported that the RIAA sent out a demand letter Friday (Feb. 4) to NFT platform HitPiece on behalf of the major labels. Billboard also reported that HitPiece started its beta launch by “pulling artwork and other information off Spotify”.

Here is part of the email to HitPiece from Jared Freedman, Senior Vice President, Litigation, at the RIAA. The full letter is on SCRIBD.

…I understand that you represent the NFT auction website Hitpiece dot com (“Hitpiece”) and its founders, including Rory Felton, Michael Berrin, and possibly others. As you are in no doubt aware, your clients, through the Hitpiece website, have been engaged in the systematic and flagrant infringement of the intellectual property rights of the Record Companies and their recording artists on a massive scale.

Using the artist track names, copyrighted album art, and other protected images – all without the permission of the rights owners – your clients have offered at auction and sold NFTs promising ownership in a “unique sound recording” and the ability “to create a digital display of album artwork associated with their favorite music, with a one-of-its-kind, non-fungible token (“NFT”) of the artwork”. Many of these “unique song recordings” and associated artwork are those owned or exclusively controlled by the Record Companies…

Oh, and apparently HitPiece has launched a second website with a similar name.

Predictably, the RIAA demands a cease and desist from HitPiece. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This entire fiasco provides an incredibly stupid example of how NOT to start a business.

RIAA Says LimeWire Owes it $72 Trillion

Around four years ago, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a lawsuit against LimeWire. The RIAA was suing on behalf of several music labels. In short, the RIAA claimed that LimeWire’s P2P software, which allowed people to download and distribute copyrighted songs for free, caused the music industry to lose millions of dollars. The RIAA won that case. All that was left was to figure out how much LimeWire now owed the RIAA as a result.

The RIAA came up with a figure that most people would find to be astounding. They want LimeWire to pay them $72 trillion. The RIAA feels that since LimeWire allowed thousands, (or maybe millions), of people to illegally download one, or more than one, of the 11,000 songs that the RIAA owns that it means the members of the RIAA are now entitled to statutory damages for every single illegal download that occurred.

Judge Kimba Wood has called that figure “absurd”. Judge Wood went on to say, in a recent decision:

“An award based on the RIAA calculations would amount to more money than the entire music industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.”

It is also worth noting that the estimated wealth of the entire world is around $60 trillion. I’m not sure why the RIAA thought that LimeWire would be able to somehow come up with more money than what all of the people in the entire world, all together, are estimated to have. To me, this sounds impossible.

Instead, it appears that LimeWire is facing statutory fines of up to $150,000 for each violation of copyright that they allowed to occur. That could mean that LimeWire may end up owing the RIAA around $1 billion dollars. How LimeWire would manage to pay that much money in damages is unknown.

The Limewire Shutdown Is Not The End Of the RIAA’s Problems

As you may have heard recently, Limewire has been ordered to finally shut its digital doors.  Yesterday, a federal judge granted the shutdown request from the RIAA after a ruling in their favor several months ago.  All searches, uploads and downloads through the client were ordered to stop.  It was, no doubt, quite a shock to users when they fired up their client and were greeted with the this message:

Legal Notice: This is an official notice that Limewire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.

So now the RIAA goes along its merry way without anymore worries, right?  Right?!  Not exactly.  In reality, the Limewire shutdown is a blip on the file-sharing radar.  Truth be told, the RIAA probably spent more on legal costs to pull this off than they lost from the users of the software.  And what do they have to show for it besides one program to point to as an example?  Not much, it would seem.

First, there were numerous articles popping up online today touting the alternatives to Limewire.  And of course there’s no shortage of those alternatives.  Then there’s Usenet which is almost untraceable.  And of course bittorrent which is now discovering better ways to hide users with tools like Anomos and Peerblock.  If anything, the RIAA may have made things harder on themselves by forcing pirates into more obscure places and making them harder to catch and sue.  What a kick in the butt if this shutdown makes the RIAA’s life the one that just became more difficult.

Second, there seems to be a study or survey popping up every few weeks that shows such things as “file sharers buy more music”.  I’m actually inclined to believe that too.  And not only because countless surveys have shown it, but because in a strange way it seems logical.  If you like an artist you feel as if you should support them.  They deserve to make a living off of their work, because, after all, if they can’t, then they will look for a 9-5 job and you won’t hear them again.  A lot of P2P users seems to be looking to discover new music that they can then support.  Obviously there will always be exceptions.  A percentage will always just be thieves.

So, the RIAA got their big example with Limewire.  They started down this course way back in the 90’s with Napster, so we can see how well it is working for them. They have succeeded only in alienating themselves from their customer base and probably forcing more people into piracy than would otherwise have been there.  And with each “example” they also further the technology used to thwart them.  Business models can either move ahead with the times or they can die – kicking and screaming in this case.

PRS Publishes Paper on Filesharing

The Performing Rights Society (PRS), the approximate equivalent of the US’s RIAA, recently published a paper outlining a proposed approach to the compensation of rights holders based on the level of unlicensed material passing through an ISP.

 The paper, snappily titled Moving Digital Britain Forward Without Leaving Creative Britain Behind, was written by Will Page, Chief Economist, PRS for Music and David Touve, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Washington & Lee University.

(I’m actually not sure that I can tell you about it, because if you follow the links from the press release, it says in bold letters, “It is provided for the information of the intended recipient only and should not be reproduced or disclosed to any other person without the consent of the PRS for Music PR department.  So if it was mentioned in a publicly available RSS feed, does that make me an intended recepient or not?)

Moving on, the paper proposes the following argument, and I paraphrase, because there is unlicensed media, the level of unlicensed media within an ISPs network should be measured and remedial action taken.

The paper offers three possibilities for the “remedial action taken” against the ISP.

  • Compensation, but it admits that it’s difficult to find a way to price it correctly.
  • Licensing or levy, although broadly similar in effect, are very different legally.  There’s a table in the paper showing the differences.
  • Traffic regulation, with penalties or fines paid by the ISPs.

All of this is against the ISP rather than the individual user of the unlicensed media.  Presumably they’ve given up going after the end user because it’s clear to everyone that there’s just too much filesharing going on and it’s going to be easier to go after the ISPs to get money.

However, to be fair, the last two pages of the paper discuss the pros and cons of the three options, none of which are perfect.  One paragraph points out, “We want to make it clear that neither of the above-mentioned options could be considered without accepting that some sort of market failure has occurred and that in consequence some form of regulation is required, and that regulation should seek to put incentives and structures in place so that a market-based solution to the value of media on networks can evolve.”

I’m in a bit of a dilemma over this.  On one hand, part of me has sympathy with the rights holders and believe that they should be compensated fairly (we’ll leave the arguments of whether the PRS and RIAA actually work for the rights holders out of this for now) but the other part of me, says that the success of digital music stores, such as iTunes and Amazon MP3, shows that if you offer fairly priced music and a slick user experience, then people will pay willingly.

Again, I would like to think that mature language and reasoned approach are about the music industry becoming a bit more grown-up and finding fair solutions, but actually it’s just fancy words about getting the ISPs to pay up one way or another.  Those of us who don’t engage in illegal file sharing will simply end up paying for those that do.

Is this the way forwards?  What do you think?

The RIAA Is Throwing Away Money

Recently documents came into the public realm that show some of the RIAA’s financial dealings in 2008.  Apparently they have decided that, like their credibility, they need to throw away their money as well.  I am referring to files recently released by P2Pnet that show:

The RIAA paid Holmes Roberts & Owen $9,364,901 in 2008, Jenner & Block more than $7,000,000, and Cravath Swain & Moore $1.25 million, to pursue its “copyright infringement” claims, in order to recover a mere $391,000. [ps there were many other law firms feeding at the trough too; these were just the ones listed among the top 5 independent contractors.]

Wow, talk about a bad return on investment.  It looks as though, not only is it not the artists getting rich off of the RIAA lawsuits, but even the RIAA isn’t getting rich off of the RIAA lawsuits!  As always though, the lawyers are profiting handsomely.

If you don’t want to do the math, that’s $17.6 million plus spent to gain back $391,000.  Although no documents exist (that can be found in public) showing how much of this $391,000 went to the artists, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that it was little or none.

The math gets no better if you look at previous years.  In fact, it gets laughably worse.  Over the the three year period of 2006-2008 the total legal fees paid out by the RIAA is a staggering $64,000,000 to get back $1,361,000.

More bad news for the RIAA recently surfaced as well, in the form of former Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner.  Jenner has been speaking out about filesharing being, more or less, unstoppable and not really a problem, saying, instead, that the music industry needs to find a way to take advantage of it.

While I, in no way, condone stealing intellectual property, I also have thought for a long time that the industry is out of control and that suing fans is no way to fix their outdated business model.  Instead of trying to cling to their antiquated ways, the music industry needs to move ahead and look, as Jenner said, into ways of taking advantage of modern technology.  They took a baby-step when they dropped DRM, but now it’s time for them to learn to walk and then run.  And maybe it’s also time for them to drop, and disavow, the RIAA.

RIAA could not Control themselves more Lawsuits

No_riaaThe RIAA could not control themselves and have filled more Lawsuits against P2P users. After all but admitting that there past actions have hurt them more than helped them they could not contain themselves and had to file more lawsuits.

Maybe they need the money to make salary over there, probably the bevy of lawyers on staff had nothing to do so they had to give them some work to do, so that they could bill some billable hours.

I would not be surprised if they have a money issue after all what have they done for music artist and music labels recently. Not a whole lot except piss the general public. Possibly this is a tact they will use when they ask there RIAA brethren at the Department of Justice to start suing John Q Public.

The sad part is music artist for the most part have gotten run over by the RIAA and deal with the negative publicity with there actions.

How to fight The RIAA

It seems like the RIAA is unstoppable in its crusade to sue music lovers into oblivion. They are using the courts to get their way with ridiculous judgments being handed out. A single illegal downloaded song can cost a person thousands. The RIAA really does not want to go to trial; they hope to scare people into paying up when threatened with a lawsuit. Most people will just pay up to avoid the extra hassle of facing a trial. I am not advocating stealing music because I believe it is stealing when you take something without paying. However the music industry (not all artists… look what Radiohead did) is being bull headed instead of changing with the times. And these judgments are not punishment that fits the “crime” There is no way that a few songs should cost as much as they do in penalties. The question is what can we do to destroy the RIAA.

I don’t think trying to pass any laws will help because the lobbyists are more incentivized than voters. They make money to get laws passed or to prevent laws from being enacted. Voters are just regular people with jobs & real lives. We don’t have time to know every single detail of what to vote on and when to do so. It is a very difficult thing to make changes through the voting booth. Tough but not impossible I know. Maybe a better way is to wreck the chances of any jury awarding outrageous cash to the RIAA & other such scum based groups. One way to do that is FIJA (Fully Informed Jury Association). Basically the Constitution set up the average person to be the final branch of government. We the People are the final road block to oppressive government. If lawmakers pass bad laws which are ruled on by corrupt judges then the jury becomes 12 super powerful humans that can do good. FIJA looks to educate Americans on a jury’s role in trials. Now this not mainstream stuff & judges will actually throw people off juries if they are found to be members of FIJA. So it is not going to be something that the powers that be will endorse, but the Constitution is supposed to be the highest law in the land. The concept is that a juror can not only find a defendant not guilty based on the evidence but also based on the fact that the law is BAD. The jury is in control. No really, they are. No matter what the judge tells them to ignore or base their findings on, they have the final say. So if I were on a jury and I knew I could prevent a real injustice from happening I would think it was my duty to do the right thing. If the word could be spread about FIJA then juries everywhere could be used to do away with bad judgments like what the RIAA goes after. This is a big task I know but I see no other way because the RIAA will not stop until someone stops them over & over again.