October 2, 2003
Recording Industry Association of America's third and latest round
of lawsuits has snared a popular female musician, a deceased
grandfather, and a three-legged kitten in its ever-widening
copyright infringement dragnet.
to a recent story in Wired, the RIAA
on Monday began a new week of filing lawsuits against individuals
accused of illegally sharing copyrighted music via the popular
filesharing network Kazaa. In
all, 134 new civil lawsuits have been filed as of Thursday morning,
affecting music fans in 19 states.
strategy is to cast as wide a net as possible in order to snare,
educate and harass a broad-ranging scope of music consumers,"
explained RIAA president Carey Sherman, "We hope this will send
a message to Americans of all ages and demographics that listening
to music that is copyrighted by any of our member labels could land
you in court and could bankrupt you."
an RIAA spokesperson stopped short of calling the suit against
Zachary the kitten a mistake, the organization did admit that it was
surprised to learn of his non-human orientation.
In a press release posted on their website, the RIAA
explains, "Obviously we're not a greedy organization bent on
taking thousands of dollars from little girls, grandmothers, and
kittens, but we also have a duty to our artists to protect their
creative works from being distributed and heard.
We are currently in negotiations with the kitten Zachary and
his attorney, and we are certain we will reach a fair and just
financial settlement that will compensate Sony, EMI and Warner Music
for the works that were infringed."
The RIAA statement also leaves the possibility open that it
may sue more kittens in the future, if it finds them to be illegally
sharing copyrighted music online.
newest lawsuits are being announced at the same time as the RIAA is
launching its "Fight for the Music" test campaign in
California elementary schools, which encourages students to report
their peers and family members to the RIAA if they suspect them of
downloading and listening to music with their computers.
Under the program, any student who submits seven or more tips
in a month will receive a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut and
a medium Pepsi drink. If the program is successful, it will be launched nationwide
in the spring. The RIAA
has pledged to donate a significant percentage of the money gained
from suing music consumers back to participating schools, a deal
which many California schools are likely to accept given current
budget constraints and expanding class sizes due to a massive influx
related news, the RIAA said this morning that the Clean
Slate amnesty program has been extremely successful.
The Clean Slate program is offered to infringers who want to
come forward and voluntarily add their names to the RIAA's
"naughty list". The
Clean Slate program asks people who have downloaded music in the
past but who have not yet been identified or named in a lawsuit to
turn in a notarized confession of guilt, along with a recent photo
and valid social security number to the group's lawyers.
In return the RIAA promises to not use the data they collect
for any purpose. So far
the RIAA has received numerous signed amnesty forms, naming cartoon
characters, the sons and daughters of senators, and sexual organs as
former music pirates who want to change their ways.
The RIAA is pleased with the amount of data they are
collecting and would like to encourage people who have already
completed the original affidavit
to complete the "refer-a-friend" amnesty form as well if
they know of anyone else who has downloaded and listened to music
"Refer-A-Friend" program requires a notarized signature
and a thumbprint, but to allay privacy concerns
voiced by extremist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
the RIAA has promised to not use the names they collect through the
refer-a-friend program for any reason. They will also be mailing anyone who completes either amnesty
form an armband and "Copyright Enforcer" certificate to
compensate the concerned citizen for their time.
The RIAA currently has legislation pending in Congress that would make purchasing fourteen qualifying music CDs a year compulsory for every American over age 18. It is expected to pass through both houses and be signed into law with relatively no opposition.
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