See your alma mater on the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) list of “Downloading’s Most Wanted”? According to the RIAA, these are the top 25 music-pirating schools in the country. See your alma mater? No? That might be a good thing.
I was initially surprised none of my alma maters made the list. Then it dawned on me. It was not that the students at my old schools were no longer hip, it was that they were too savvy to leave a trail of breadcrumbs from the bakery to their dorm rooms. You see, in my experience, the RIAA does not pursue the most prolific copyright infringers.
Vying for the title Worst Company in America the RIAA pursues children and dead grandmothers. It is not that the mega uploaders from the former Soviet Republic, and mini-mega downloading pirates here in the United States are less culpable, it is just that they leave fewer tracks. The also have enough organized crime connections or too little money to make pursuing them any fun. So, in their infinite wisdom, the RIAA goes after the end user. I mean it worked so well eliminating the drug problem, why not expand the theory to music downloading?
Far be it from me to dissuade anyone, including the RIAA, from defending their intellectual property. As an intellectual property attorney, this is my bread and butter. My concern is that, from my vantage, it seems as if the RIAA is targeting the weakest, least culpable infringers, rather than the real bad guys. Sure, you could spend the next four years in federal court convincing a judge that your roommate did it. You might even win. The problem is that who are you going to find to defend you for less than the RIAA’s $5,000 demand? It is just easier to pay. Unfortunately, the RIAA uses that $5,000 to finance more lawsuits against other people just like yourself.
I personally believe that if we could cut out the RIAA, we would have a lot more music, more cheaply, with fewer restrictions, with more money going directly to the artists. This may be at the expense of manufactured commodities like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, but I for one am willing to bite that bullet. The RIAA’s attacks on privacy and free speech have prompted Gizmodo to start a boycott of RIAA musicians during the month of March. I would encourage everyone to visit Gizmodo, examine the reasons behind the boycott, join the resistance and maybe even slip a buck of two to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.