RIAA Attacks Google and Radio StationsSubmitted by GuyFawkes on Wed, 01/15/2014 - 14:47
The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) is a political wrecking ball and their latest targets are Internet search engines, particularly Google, and broadcast radio stations.
According to Cary Sherman, the Chairman, CEO and chief litigator of the RIAA, the industry has sent Google 100 million piracy notices. Cary claims that means “at least 100 million times Google offered to direct users to illegal sources for music just within the last two years. That’s also 100 million times that an artist, songwriter, music label – or anyone else involved in the chain of creating and distributing music – was likely denied the opportunity to earn any royalties, revenues or sales.” Mr. Sherman's argument unintentionally reveals a host of narratives, all of them wrong.
Mr. Sherman is obviously attempting to lay the groundwork for another run SOPA-type legislation. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was an effort to enact legislation to allow Hollywood, the recording industry and government to censor search engine links, not much differently than they do in communist China. The RIAA claimed that rogue websites often come up in search engine results and the government and the content industry needs stronger laws to stop Internet users from seeing such websites. SOPA would have empowered law enforcement to block access to Internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single site or even blog post. Thanks to a grassroots rebellion, in part from readers at the Daily Paul, Congress refused to enact the law, marking the first time in years, the RIAA and their allies did not achieve a major legislative objective.
In addition to pushing for a new SOPA bill, Mr. Sherman appears ignorant, unintentionally or by choice, of how the Internet truly functions. As TechDirt notes, Mr. Sherman's claims are "just blatantly false. First, any Google search result comes with a bunch of other links as well, many of which could lead to revenue for those in that chain. Furthermore, even if the file was unauthorized (not, as Sherman falsely claims, "illegal"), that quite frequently still does lead to opportunities to earn royalties, as multiple studies have shown over and over and over and over again. On top of that, if someone is really looking for a free MP3 of something, that's what they're looking for and they're not going to spend any money on the file anyway, so no revenue is "denied." That revenue never existed.”
More critically, the RIAA continues its assault on technology and innovation and clearly has no problem attempting to host itself on the wealth, innovation and production of others. In addition to censoring search results, the RIAA would clearly love to be able to tap Google’s revenue with 100 million separate copyright violation claims.
The iconic heavy metal band Iron Maiden recently decided to turn the RIAA's arguments on their head. Rather than attempt to prosecute music downloaders, the band is using downloading data to determine where to plan their next concert tour. “If you know what drives engagement you can maximize the value of your fan base. Artists could say ‘we’re getting pirated here, let’s do something about it’, or ‘we’re popular here, let’s play a show’,” Gregory Mead, CEO and co-founder of Musicmetric told Cite.
It’s the same story for broadcast radio. The RIAA is looking to their allies in Congress to enact a royalty tax scheme that would force radio stations to pay performers a fee every time one of their songs are played on the radio. For nearly a century, music played on the radio was viewed as a grand bargain between performers and radio stations. Radio stations play and promote music and in exchange, performers receive free publicity -- publicity they could never afford to pay for. The greed of the recording industry has no bounds and they are now asking government to force changes in the equation.
Sadly, some "conservative" Republicans like Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are attempting to convince their fellow members of Congress that such a tax is actually pro free market. Ms. Blackburn, is a champion of the Nashville music scene and appears ready to make any argument, even fallacious ones, to promote the interests of the music industry.
Whether it is attacking Google or radio stations, the recording industry is not hesitation to run to the government to try to pad their bottom line. They have done it for years. Some in Congress recognize that the RIAA’s days of cronyism has passed them by. Others still love the industry’s generous political contributions and star power. We must remain vigilant in the days ahead and stop the RIAA’s government-empowered money grabs wherever they arise.