Home Forums General Discussions Open Topic Why the RIAA owes us all an apology Re: Why the RIAA owes us all an apology



Gave my speech today related to this thread. Here it is:
How the RIAA and consumers can coexist legally
and respectfully

Try to imagine your favorite record store closing its doors for good and that downloading your favorite band’s new record was a federal felony punishable by 10 years in prison? How about having to pay $50.00 per new release and having to buy it from a street gang or mafia-type outfit? Crazy? Impossible? No. Unless the Recording Industry Association of America changes its current practices and policies, we may all be buying our music from the mob.

The RIAA’s prosecuting of consumers and file-sharing services in order to protect their market is selfish, shortsighted and thus, ineffective. The Napster lawsuit spearheaded by heavy-metal band N’Sync…. I mean Metallica (used a transparency of Metallica from Garage Inc. showing them filthy dirty… this got huge laughs [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] ) only resulted in new fee-based services that still get around copyrights. Prices on most CD’s and cassettes remain high enough to prompt consumer trafficking in mediums that deny the industry exorbitant profits.

Causes of the anti-market dynamic are social, economic and political in nature. According to Maxine Baca-Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen, authors of the sociological textbook, In Conflict and Order, the powerless consumer both meets a want and punishes a corrupt industry who places profits over consumer concerns. Instead of admitting responsibility, the industry places blame on the consumer and reacts by labeling them as criminals and treating them as such.

Consumers spent over 14.5 billion dollars (US) in 1999 on sound recordings according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This equates out to about 2 percent of the 8 trillion plus Gross Domestic Product. While not seeming like much overall, pricing of individual units does not change for a consumer who takes in less personal income. The less fortunate consumer may be more tempted to gain their product by illicit means than those who can afford not to.

The RIAA uses lobbyists to push their causes through to law and to support politicians who are favorable to their causes. Additionally, the RIAA is a media-based organization that provides coverage and notoriety to various political candidates and office-holders. Like many other lobbying groups, the mutual interactions with government are of significantly higher priority than those with their source of revenue, the consumer.

To remedy these problems, the RIAA, including member record producers, distributors, and artists, should look into repricing individual units and furthering licensing agreements with Mp3 databases. The need for this plan is tremendous. According to both Billboard Magazine’s October 27th issue and FreakScene bulletin board, fan web-base of former Dinosaur Jr. Frontman J. Mascis (obligatory no-shame plug [img]images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img] ), the RIAA attempted to insert language into the PATRIOT anti-terrorist bill that would allow them to continue to modifiy PC’s of consumers who are found to upload pirated music. The RIAA vehemently denies the charges made by Billboard, yet acknowledges lobbying to be allowed to continue "protection by means of self-help measures". The Judiciary Committee rejected the new language and the RIAA’s attempts to except themselves from this bill. (The old law lets the RIAA cause up to $5000 worth of collateral damage to individual uploaders of pirated PC’s. The new law makes any amount of damage a crime.)

The music industries’ pricing system is antiquated and unlike any other industry that offers a similar market with new forms of product that eventually age. Bob Higgins, CEO of TransWorld Entertainment and John Marmaduke of Hastings Entertainment lean toward a dynamic pricing system, noting that prices remain the same even when sales drop. (The source here states this is so, because unlike videos and books, the opportunity to gain additional profits is driven by the first single released and then the second etc.. We know that should not be across the board, right?)
Borders VP Len Consimano states that unless volume compensates for lower prices, artists will continue to suffer. However, neither side proposes using the dynamics of one problem’s dynamics to affect another’s and vice-versa.

The problem is two-fold yet unified by the ideal that the consumer is subject to be affected financially by paying higher and higher prices driven by RIAA’s pursuit of copyright protection and the industrie’s loss of overall profits by consumers unable or unwilling to meet rising costs. With consumer expenditures dropping by about $200,000,000 in 2000, the first loss in ten years, the industry must swallow its pride and its profits by continuing to invest money in licensing agreements with file-sharing services. If this trend continues, Mp3 income can provide a buffer neccesary to allow recordings to be repriced and for artists and other industry workers to get paid.

As stated, the RIAA needs to look at who pays their bills and decide if they are more important than those who have their own agendas to pursue. My hope is that we, as music lovers first, and consumers second, will be allowed to continue enjoying the work of entertainers and that entertainers will be allowed to continue enjoying their work.



Baca Zinn, Maxine and D. Stanley Etizen. In Conflict and Order. Boston. Allyn and Bacon, 2001. 180-182

Brue, Stanley L. and Campbell R. McConnell. Microeconomics. Boston. Irwin McGraw-Hill, 1999. G-8

Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir.
We the People. New York. Norton, 1999. 415-423


United States Bureau of Census. Profile of Consumer Sound Recordings: 1990-1999. 2000


FreakScene BBS. :Why the RIAA owes us all an apology." Online posting. <http>]www.freakscene.net/cgibin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=gettopic&f=16&t=000347&p=>[/url] Internet 19 Oct. 2001

Recording Industry Association of America. "Response to Billboard Article on Anti-Terrorism." RIAA. October 28, 2001 <http>]www.riaa.com>[/url] (28 Oct. 2001)


Christman, Ed. "Industry Debates CD prices and Destiny." Billboard. Oct. 20, 2001. 1-2

Christman, Ed. "Strong Staying Power Seen for CD’s Despite New Music Formats." Billboard. Oct. 20, 2001 76

Holland, Bill. "RIAA Criticized over Effort to Change Anti-Terrorist Bill." Billboard. Oct. 27, 2001. 10.

Yow. I didn’t think it would be this long in print. The spoken version was quite short only about 8 minutes. Thanks again all.


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