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The Almighty Buck The Courts Music

RIAA Paid $16M+ In Legal Fees To Collect $391K 387

Posted by kdawson
from the world's-smartest-executives dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a rare outburst of subjectivity, I commenced my blog post 'Ha ha ha ha ha' when reporting that, based upon the RIAA's disclosure form for 2008, it had paid its lawyers more than $16,000,000 to recover $391,000. If they were doing it to 'send a message,' the messages have been received loud & clear: (1) the big four record labels are managed by idiots; (2) the RIAA's law firms have as much compassion for their client as they do for the lawsuit victims; (3) suing end users, or alleged end users, is a losing game. I don't know why p2pnet.net begrudges the RIAA's boss his big compensation; he did a good job... for the lawyers."
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RIAA Paid $16M+ In Legal Fees To Collect $391K

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:44PM (#32895374) Journal
    This is just more evidence that Piracy is Killing Music(tm)! Pirates, apparently less busy stealing food from the mouths of starving artists' starving children than they seemed, managed to pull over 15 and a half million dollars from the RIAA's coffers...

    Clearly, we must set up a cabinet-level Department of Intellectual Property so that the War on Pirates can be fought at public expense, with the same efficiency and success as the scourges of drugs and poverty....
    • Re:Good Heavens! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:50PM (#32895420) Homepage

      Just about everyone on slashdot pointed out that the only people who win this game are the lawyers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The justice system SUCKS!

        Look at it from their standpoint - If you had something stolen (say a laptop), but the Police, and courts system saw the loss as not enough to be worth their bother.

        What value does that give to the rest of your possessions: Your bike, Your flat screen TV, Your PVR, your collection of 1960's superheros comics. Can anyone at any time come nab your stuff if it isn't locked down and it would be OK? -- The law is effectively saying it is, so you better start your life of crime unless yo

        • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:03PM (#32895838) Homepage
          Are you the dude whose laptop was stolen and the police didn't care? :P Maybe report that you had (legally, purchased on iTunes) MP3s on it, and that they PIRATED your MUSIC? :P
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cwix (1671282)

          This has nothing to do with the police.. If your lap top was stolen ($1000) and you knew that the only way you could get your laptop back is to pay 40,000 would you do it, or say fuck it and go get a new laptop?

      • Re:Good Heavens! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by v1 (525388) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:20PM (#32895608) Homepage Journal

        Does make one wonder how the artists can see their membership money being pissed away like that and think it's a positive

        • Re:Good Heavens! (Score:4, Informative)

          by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:34PM (#32895694) Journal

          Um, I thought that the RIAA was composed of the major labels, and is in no way directly accessible and/or responsible to "the little people', namely the actual recording artists.

          And it would not shock me if the labels just spread the expense of these legal fee's across the accounts of all their artists [ie, taxation without representation].

          • Re:Good Heavens! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by causality (777677) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:15PM (#32895898)

            Um, I thought that the RIAA was composed of the major labels, and is in no way directly accessible and/or responsible to "the little people', namely the actual recording artists.

            So what do you suppose happens when there is a certain cost for the artist to deal with a major label, and the RIAA as a trade organization is making decisions that drive up costs for every major label that is a participating member?
            They're "the little people" because they have no veto power, not because they don't bear the costs.

            And it would not shock me if the labels just spread the expense of these legal fee's across the accounts of all their artists [ie, taxation without representation].

            That's generally what happens when there is a significant increase in cost for a corporate entity: all of its clients and/or members experience an increased cost, either in terms of increased fees or in terms of fewer services for the same fee. The question is whether the increase is a legitimate cost of doing business or the direct result of mismanagement.

            The bottom line is that this goes on because we (collectively) fund it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by catmistake (814204)

              The bottom line is that this goes on because we (collectively) fund it.

              Right. So what does it cost us? (Any positive figure is unacceptable.)

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by delinear (991444)
                You could always offset the cost by downloading free music to the same amount :)
            • Re:Good Heavens! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @10:02AM (#32900876) Homepage Journal

              The bottom line is that this goes on because we (collectively) fund it.

              Untill fairly recently when the cost of recording and having records* pressed went down to the point where artists don't need the labels, the only way around it was to not buy records, because there is an illegal but unpunished cartel. Nowdays you can get out of funding it by listening to indie music.

              * CDs are in fact "records"; they are as much records of performances as LPs were. I don't know why people stopped calling them records just because the media holding the records changed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kitkoan (1719118)

          Does make one wonder how the artists can see their membership money being pissed away like that and think it's a positive

          Easy to see it as a positive. It won't be veiwed as 'legal fee's', it'll be viewed as 'public awareness fee's', part of the campaign to 'show the public the evil's of illegal file sharing'. They will declare it was never for the money, just the message that it's illegal and wrong and if you continue to share music illegally then you will be punished.

          Granted, that message will be lost on Joe Public. But thats life.

      • the only people? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hAckz0r (989977) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:25PM (#32895964)

        the only people who win this game are the lawyers

        That is almost true, but let us not forget the "snake oil salesmen" that sell the DRM that can never do what it is promised it will do. Anyone that invests big money on software to perform DRM is throwing money at a lost cause. Where else can you get millions for handing the end user the media, the algorithm, and the encryption key, and expect them not to be smart enough to put them together? Or better yet, to even use a felt tip marker to defeat it? Oh, their solution is to make doing that illegal. Yet again the lawyers can all have a field day, and not just the ones working directly for the RIAA.

        They could cut the price of the CD's by 50%, not pay for the DRM'ed media/software cost, time to manage the high tech drm-keying process, and save the misery of user support/returns, and still stand to make more money by just selling more music. The problem with that volume-selling concept as the RIAA sees it is the artists would make more money because there would be lower overall overhead expenses to deduct out of the revenue stream before paying out the remaining fraction of profits to the artist. The RIAA depends on this contrived overhead to reduce what is actually paid to the artists. More overhead, more profit at the top! I would hope the artists catch on to this concept one day and actually ask for a 'reality check' (the paper kind preferably) from the RIAA management.

      • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @12:56AM (#32896352) Homepage

        How about a nice game of Tort? The only winning move is not to sue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Ok, that's it. I'll stop pretend I'm a programmer, instead I'll become an IT lawyer :
        Boss : can you make the computer do that ?
        IT lawyer : Ok, I'll plead your case but I can't guarantee anything.
        Boss : Uh ?
        IT lawyer ; and maybe you'll have to pay for some court expenses.
        Boss : Can't we talk about that ?
        IT lawyer : at a rate of 100$/hour we can do all the meetings you want.
    • by crhylove (205956)

      Dude, we won the war on drugs. You can totally grow plants now in California. You just need a doctor's note.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)

      Hmmm...

      1. Get sued by RIAA
      2. RIAA bankrupts itself in lawyers' fees
      3. ???
      4. Profit!!!

      Unfortunately you don't profit, but the rest of humanity does.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spewns (1599743)

      Clearly, we must set up a cabinet-level Department of Intellectual Property so that the War on Pirates can be fought at public expense, with the same efficiency and success as the scourges of drugs and poverty....

      ...and terrorism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      This is just more evidence that Piracy is Killing Music(tm)! Pirates, apparently less busy stealing food from the mouths of starving artists' starving children than they seemed, managed to pull over 15 and a half million dollars from the RIAA's coffers...

      Exactly! And who do you think did the RIAA steal those millions from? That's right! The artists! Pirates are totally stealing money from the artists, in the sense that the RIAA bleeds artists dry and then uses that money to sue pirates.

    • Up Next (Score:3, Funny)

      by cyclomedia (882859)

      Dont worry, the lawyers have a new plan and this one is SURE to get the RIAA a decent return: Suing iPod owners who only listen to one earphone and let a friend pirate the music through the other without paying a dime! The people who use headphone splitters so that two listeners can get full stereo are going to pay octupal damages too!

  • shareholder lawsuit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:45PM (#32895380) Homepage

    Perhaps people who own shares in the RIAA's member companies should sue for misspending?

  • Q.E.D. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:47PM (#32895388)
    Thus proving what we've been saying all along:

    The RIAA's worst enemy is the RIAA.
    • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by caitsith01 (606117) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @03:03AM (#32896886) Journal

      I really, really loathe these guys.

      But do you really think it's not working for them? They've paid $16M to lawyers. For that amount they have received:

      - nominal damages

      - huge amounts of lobbying power with politicians ("look how much we're having to spend to defend our rights!")

      - absolutely massive amounts of anti-piracy PR from their big media pals

      - a hard to measure but very valuable creation of fear in the mind of the average file sharer

      I'm sure I'm not alone in being distinctly more wary about file sharing than I was in, say, the era when Napster and Kazaa dominated.

      I think for $16M they'd be delighted.

      Of course, none of that negates the fact that a much, much, much better approach to selling media would be to make it affordable and DRM-free. Which is why, for example, I spend too much money at Good Old Games.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339)

        I think a good way to look at it is that the RIAA is essentially at war.

        War isn't about return-on-investment. If anything it is about the opposite.

        I want you to do something. You don't want to do it. I show that I'm willing to spend $10M ruining somebody else's life with no real gain to myself because they refused to do what I want you to do. Then I ask again if you're sure you don't want to do it.

        When the real Mafia blows up somebody's store, they aren't doing it to gain revenue from that store (face i

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:47PM (#32895394) Homepage

    "What're ya, fucking stupid?" -George Carlin

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:48PM (#32895400)

    It's to instill fear, and reduce the (speculative) lost sales.

    If they sell 10 million more albums as a result of spending the 16M in fees, then it's not such a bad deal. (Mind you, I don't think that's the case)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      But they won't. Instead of "losing" money to piracy, they lose mindshare because people won't buy. Its a lot worse deal for the RIAA to have 10 million people not listening to their music than to have 10 million people listening to music without buying.

      If a person isn't listening to music, the RIAA has no chance of making any money, if a person is, if they like the music a lot, the RIAA will eventually get money by them buying records eventually.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:54PM (#32895788)

        they lose mindshare because people won't buy

        If only we could all remember that half the population has an IQ below 100. Most people don't have much "mindshare" to go around. They don't give a flying fuck about the politics of IP ownership. They learn what buttons to push to download their stuff and that's all they care to know about technology.

        They also don't have very sophisticated taste in entertainment of any sort. This is why so much of the music the RIAA "protects" is recycled, boilerplate crap. The music industry panders to the lowest common denominator. The best stuff for the discerning consumer is on the fringes, made by artists who do it for the love of it, and aren't trying to get retarded rich but would like to earn a nice living.

        Seriously, think about the things that get lots of people to mob up and force change. What are they? Slavery, prohibition, the right to vote, civil rights, wars, and abortion! These are basic and big things. So do you really think there is going to be some kind of grassroots music industry boycott? I don't. It's just not that big a deal for an average person to give much of a flip about.

        • But the RIAA can use that to their favor, the average person has been so bombarded with Lady Gaga that everyone in the RIAA's target market can identify it, but lets say for a moment that all the free channels of Lady Gaga never existed, no radio airtime, no YouTube videos, and no free downloads. Lady Gaga would be known to only a few, it is only through flooding the world through -free- music that stars that make money for the RIAA can be born. Its just like Microsoft, had Microsoft been really aggressive
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      The RIAA is run basically run by lawyers, this smells more and more like a scam to bleed RIAA members for millions of dollars. It would be interesting to see the total amount the RIAA spends on lawyers and what are the financial and familial arrangements between RIAA running lawyers and the lawyers that have been contracted to conduct all of the RIAA legal activities.

      Nowadays there are more and more examples of owners losing control of companies and organisations losing control to the executives who then

    • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm a i l .com> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @02:03AM (#32896624) Journal

      It's to instill fear, and reduce the (speculative) lost sales.

      Bingo. The parent post has it correct.

      The purpose of the lawsuits was never to directly recover money from individuals who have engaged in occasional acts of copyright infringement. Rather, it was to create the perception that online infringement could have dire consequences (dealing with even a groundless lawsuit is a tremendous time sink, and even a "small" settlement can run to four or five figures), and thereby (in theory) encourage people to pay for at least some of the music that they otherwise would have downloaded for free.

      While the $16 million appears on the balance sheet as legal fees, it would far more accurately be charged to the marketing budget as an advertising campaign. I doubt that the RIAA members ever expected these lawsuits to directly recoup their own costs. Looked at as a marketing expense, $16 million is a drop in the bucket.

      Whatever you might think of the RIAA's economic model or the ethics of using threats of extortionate legal action to frighten consumers, the bloggers and reporters who are framing this story as "OMG the RIAA are SOOO stoopid! They only got $391K from their $16 million lawsuits! Hahahaha Looosers!" have entirely missed the point. Indeed, they're apparently even more foolish than they accuse the RIAA of being.

      An intelligent analysis of the situation might look at what the RIAA's members did or did not receive in return for this $16 million campaign. Did they receive value for money? Has there been a change in the amount of private, noncommercial infringement? Have sales numbers been improved? Has public perception of, and attitudes toward, copyright infringement changed? Has this campaign generated a lot of free publicity, and has that publicity been a net positive for the 'message' that the labels wish to push?

  • by bobstreo (1320787) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:49PM (#32895418)

    Isn't this somehow linked to the report earlier today:
    http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/13/1737224/RIAA-Accounting-mdash-How-Labels-Avoid-Paying-Musicians [slashdot.org]

  • To be fair, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwnies (1034518) <j@jjcm.org> on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:50PM (#32895422) Homepage Journal
    This is a pretty common thing legally. Corporations will often pay legal fees larger than the returns of a court case, if it means they can set precedence for the future. The other benefit is it creates fear in those who would have otherwise pirated songs.
    • The entire internet seems to be quaking in fear and ceasing and desisting all over the place.

      Quite a well-spent $16M for that one case alone.

      • Re:yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sporkinum (655143) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:05PM (#32895522)

        Our household has been contacted a couple of times by our ISP for downloading shows through bittorrent. They said they were contacted by rightsholders. If we are "reported" again, we will lose our connection. As they are the only game in town (outside of satellite) we have stopped.

        • Re:yes... (Score:5, Informative)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:31PM (#32895676)

          You don't need to stop at all. Just alter you traffic. Get a hosted torrent account, which come at very reasonable prices, and just use SSL FTP, HTTPS, or SFTP to transfer the shows from your host account to your house.

          Extremely Effective.

          As far as the ISP is concerned, your traffic is now coming from a single IP address, a couple of connections, and is encrypted so they can't look at it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      The other benefit is it creates fear in those who would have otherwise pirated songs.

      I've been regularly advertising to friends, family, and online about the size of my music and movie collection and daring them to find me and sue me. Six years now, no letters. -_- Sadface.

    • by nschubach (922175)

      So if we want to get rid of the RIAA we simply jam up the courts with cases until they bankrupt themselves.

      • by GaryOlson (737642)
        Uh, no. Since the music industry is too big to fail, the RIAA is too big to fail by extension. Laws will be thrashed out, ludicrous justifications pontificated, and the RIAA will receive bailout money.

        Just stand there, point your digital finger, and laugh. Eventually enough people will ask what is so funny. Nothing more effective than subtle denigration.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by twidarkling (1537077)

          Uh, no. Since the music industry is too big to fail, the RIAA is too big to fail by extension

          I find this unlikely. The RIAA does not employ as many people directly and indirectly as auto manufacturers, nor is as much money tied up with them as the banks. Since music artists have proven capable of existing outside the RIAA's structure, it cannot even be sold as necessary to the industry. Thus, they are incredibly unlikely to get bailout money.

          No, the only thing they're likely to get is some laws, maybe, in their favour, and those laws aren't likely to be anything the RIAA actually likes, in the long

    • Re:To be fair, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:11PM (#32895550)

      Doesn't this just emphasize the incredible injustice of the American justice system? Giant corporations get legal protection because they can afford to waste millions fighting pointless legal battles. Joe Shmoe doesn't have that luxury. Isn't this an example of a corporate entity literally buying the law in some way?

      I don't know. That just really, really bothers me.

      • by barzok (26681)

        But the legal battles aren't pointless to the corporations. Look at that $16M as an investment. If winning that lawsuit makes it easier, faster & cheaper to win future cases, they'll make it back and then some.

      • by crhylove (205956)

        Where the hell have you been? The corporations have been acting without any legal restraint whatsoever since Andrew Jackson. LOL. Thanks for pointing out news that's over 100 years old!

      • I don't see the legal protection, they have to spend millions of dollars to maybe establish a precedent. It's not like they're buying the legal precedent; they're merely bankrolling a legal campaign to get it in front of a judge for a chance at precedent.

    • Re:To be fair, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xgamer4 (970709) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:14PM (#32895572)
      That's the thing, though. As far as I'm aware, they've absolutely failed to set any kind of precedent that might even be remotely in their favor and they've completely failed in instilling any type of fear in anyone who might think about pirating music. All they've really done is cost themselves a good chunk of money while flushing any type of good reputation they had down the toilet.
  • by RobVB (1566105) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:50PM (#32895430)

    Clearly, $400,000 per downloaded song is not enough. They should raise their demands by 3992%, and everything will be OK.

  • Is $16 mil chump change to these guys, or what?

    How much does the typical marketing blitz for a big star cost, normally?
    • Thanks to the miracle of vertical integration, I can bet you it's pennies compared to what it'd cost an industry outsider to get the same amount coverage.

      For example, do you think Disney pays itself to run Hannah Montana ads on its own networks? I don't. Close relationships between labels and advertisers facilitate similar situations across the board, I'm sure.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        i guess it depends, hollywood accounting is basically built around one company within the corp paying another silly sums to make the movie overall appear a loss.

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)

        For example, do you think Disney pays itself to run Hannah Montana ads on its own networks? I don't.

        Any second that Disney advertises Hannah Montana, they're not running an advertisement that somebody paid for. It's called "opportunity cost". It means that those Hannah-Montana ads really need to pay off at least as much as running an extra ad slot for "Bratz".

        • Yep. In a case like this, running ads for their own products means they didn't sell that space to someone else, so they needed to air something. It's also occasionally used to keep ad costs up at the network, since they can "restrict" ad space to drive demand up, and then release some to get more buy-in.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:56PM (#32895468)

    recover $391,000.

    I think in this case that means the value of the judgments themselves. What is actually collected from the victims, and what is actually delivered to the RIAA's clients may be another matter entirely.

    Either way, bwahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!!

  • Thank you for the good chuckle, NewYorkCountryLawyer. I'm curious: where on the timeline of events does this 2008 disclosure form fall? Is that before or after some of the atrocious monetary awards given out by the courts? In other words, will the RIAA see greater collection in the future, based on more recent court cases setting precedent for amounts to be awarded to the RIAA?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Marcika (1003625)

      Thank you for the good chuckle, NewYorkCountryLawyer. I'm curious: where on the timeline of events does this 2008 disclosure form fall? Is that before or after some of the atrocious monetary awards given out by the courts? In other words, will the RIAA see greater collection in the future, based on more recent court cases setting precedent for amounts to be awarded to the RIAA?

      It doesn't matter since the RIAA won't see a red penny from any of those cases -- Jammie Thomas is unemployed and wouldn't be able to pay a 10k settlement let alone 220k or 1.92M. The same applies to Tenenbaum - they might be able to recover a couple of bucks, but he can still choose to go the path of personal bankruptcy.

    • Re:Timeline (Score:4, Informative)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:49AM (#32899476) Homepage Journal

      will the RIAA see greater collection in the future, based on more recent court cases setting precedent for amounts to be awarded to the RIAA?

      There are only 2 precedents on the challenge to the RIAA's damages theory. Both are lower court cases, so neither is binding. In both cases the defendants were found to have infringed deliberately and wilfully, and to have engaged in additional conduct to cover up their actions.

      In both cases the Court found the maximum recoverable to be $2250 per infringed work.

      In both cases the Court noted that it probably would have awarded less than $2250 were the decision the Court's, rather than a jury's.

      Since most RIAA cases involve 6 or 7 allegedly infringed mp3's, and since it costs hundreds of thousands to litigate a federal case, I doubt the RIAA is thrilled with these decisions.

  • riaaradar.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan667 (564390) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:04PM (#32895516)
    the companies that support the riaa just want money so make sure you check riaaradar.com to make sure the music you buy does not help a company that supports the riaa. While they continue to waste their money on lawyers stick it to them one lost sell at a time.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:11PM (#32895556)
    Between the MPAA's style of Hollywood accounting and the RIAA doing things like this, their statistics are losing credibility fast. How about using that 16 million to pay those artists that have been "wronged" by those evil "pirates".

    If the *AA want to really convince people that they are losing money and the "pirates" are in the wrong, they need to get their finances straight before they blame "pirates". If it costs you $16 million to collect $400K-ish, you are running at an extreme loss, chances are that "pirate" didn't cause $16 million in real damages, (or even $10 in damages...) and if the RIAA keeps shooting itself in the foot, eventually people will realize that the real thing harming artists isn't "pirates" but the record companies.
  • Money well spent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:18PM (#32895594)

    You're not looking at the expense correctly. It's not revenue they're hoping to regain. If that was the case spending $16M to gain $391k is a losing deal and any idiot could see that.

    This money was spent as advertising, to spread fear about. And for what they've got for their $16M, it's been a bargain.

    Back when Napster ruled the nets and music was free and nobody was getting stripped of their entire future just to listen to Madonna, the music industry was looking at a pretty dire situation. Now significantly fewer people download music. I sure as hell don't. Too rich for my blood - I won't do it. From that point of view it is a win. There are plenty of people who now will pay for music rather than risk having the RIAA's pack of rabid lunatics take an interest in your life. Me, I simply do without. I won't fund these assholes, but I won't risk the future of my family just to hear Rush's latest album either. I simply abstain.

    Remember the "music industry" is nothing more than privileged middlemen. They produce nothing. They are to music what a toll booth is to travel. The whole goal is to keep the scam going. Spending $16M to keep the status quo? Totally worth it. Look at their revenue generated during the period in which they spent the $16M. Pennies on the dollar.

    • But the RIAA has a net loss on their hands. It is a lot better for someone to be getting their product for free than it is for people not to use it. If I don't hear the music, how am I supposed to buy it? Every single song I've (legally) downloaded I've heard before, usually on YouTube, Pandora, or even through illegitimate downloads. I'm not going to buy a CD based on the cover art unless I've heard it before. If the RIAA gains one sale for every 10 songs download, it is a profit when compared to gaining n
      • by twidarkling (1537077) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:17PM (#32895914)

        You're not looking at it the same way the RIAA is though. They don't think people will stop listening to music completely if they choke off downloads and YouTube usage, etc. No, they think that people will turn to licenced usage. OTA Radio, Satellite Radio, Bars/Nightclubs that have paid performance fees, etc. Thus, they will be getting paid for people's initial exposure to the music, and for when people purchase it.

        What they fail to realize is that a lot of people are people similar to me. I don't listen to the radio for any number of various reasons, I don't go to bars/clubs, I don't pay attention to music in malls. The only exposure I have is by word of mouth, which I then go track down online so that I can find out myself, rather than hoping to get lucky through licenced exposure, where I can't often control what plays.

        So, while you and I know that illicit downloads can help drive sales, they, instead, look at it as a chance to get paid twice.

    • by GreatDrok (684119)

      The funny thing is that their strong arm tactics work on the one hand because they discourage downloading - I certainly don't pirate music as a result. However, I don't tend to buy music these days either and I used to buy a lot. While they've reduced piracy they've also done untold damage to their revenue stream. Not good business.

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      This money was spent as advertising, to spread fear about. And for what they've got for their $16M, it's been a bargain.

      I don't know about that. You have a family and something to lose. Evil College Students are not generally that forward thinking. At least according to all the movies about the hilarious and sexy hi-jinks that are just happening all the time on college campuses.

      What the RIAA really bought was a huge backlash against them and the unending hatred from the rest of of us.

      the music industry

    • Also, if they're successful (God help us if they are), future lawsuits will be cut and dry.. and hence cheap. This is probably viewed as an initial investment or non-recurring expense for the RIAA.

    • by dFaust (546790)
      I wonder how much they've really curbed piracy through their fear mongering, as one significant change since Napster, et al is a HUGE improvement in legal digital distribution of music. Now, if I hear a song on the radio and I just want that one song... especially at 1am... I can go and grab it. For about a buck. In a few moments. Frankly, it's just far, far more convenient for people, hence that alone curbs some of the issues. Beyond that, with my iPhone and Shazam I can now hear a song on TV, the movies,
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stormwatch (703920)

      Now significantly fewer people download music.

      Oh, you almost got me there! Someone mod this man +1 funny! XD

  • AC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:19PM (#32895606)

    Money recovered: $391,000
    Lawyer cost: $16,000,000
    Legal precedence, chilling effect, and erosion of justice & civil rights: priceless!

  • "In a rare outburst of subjectivity . . . ."

    ahahaha what?

  • ... is that if you pirate, eventually, you are liable to get caught and will have to pay for it.

    But I wonder if the message they are actually sending is if you're going to pirate, just be sneaky enough about it that they won't catch you doing it.

  • Meh. It costs your loan shark money to track you down and whack you when you run. But he does it, because it keeps the other people in line.
  • Yes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:00PM (#32895820) Homepage Journal

    On a related note, am I the only one who won't buy Sony products due to their inability to work without layers and layers of draconian DRM? These corporations are so obsessed with jousting windmills that they are throwing millions of dollars away and losing millions of dollars of sales.

    The MPAA/RIAA and all their constituents WILL go out of business eventually. They are clearly outdated, outmoded, and irrelevant in the internet age. Watching them choke to death on their own stupidity is both amusing and kind of fascinating.

    If Sony is Japanese, does that make them ninjas? If so, THE PIRATES WIN!!!!

    • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Funny)

      by bennomatic (691188) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @01:20AM (#32896470) Homepage
      I don't buy Sony products because they suck. They're flashy, full of style, but not functional the way they should be. They're plagued with design flaws that never should have made it out the door, and when you buy one of their devices you're locked into their peripherals forever. From batteries to memory cards, everything you need to use a Sony has Sony written on it.

      And those stupid Sony Style stores. You can tell people just go there to be seen. Sony is more of a fashion statement than anything else.

      No, I for one, prefer Apple products.
  • by GumphMaster (772693) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:05PM (#32895850)

    If one party of the disputes paid $16M we can safely assume the other side has spent a fair amount. We can also safely assume that the US legal system, that is the US taxpayer, has spent a significant amount dealing with this: court time, judges, legal assistance, administrative support, jurors etc. This is court time and money not spent dealing with other matters, some of which you might consider of far more value.

    Hopefully with the recent reductions in damages awards the financial incentive to chase the rats-n-mice of copyright infringement will go away and the public costs will follow.

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lythrdskynrd (1823332) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:09PM (#32895870)

    This week alone we've read about how Movies always end up in the red (even Harry Potter lost money) http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/10/07/09/1621218/Hollywood-Accounting-mdash-How-Harry-Potter-Loses-Money [slashdot.org]

    and this one about how labels avoid paying musicians hasn't even fallen off the front page yet: http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/13/1737224/RIAA-Accounting-mdash-How-Labels-Avoid-Paying-Musicians [slashdot.org]

    There's no way the legal expenses cost $16M in *REAL* money. RIAA uses internal lawyers. In fact, RIAA is just lawyers. They're paying themselves and once again, screwing the artists.

    I mean seriously, to the "editor" who posted this (kdawson) would it kill you to put an ounce of fucking critical thinking into it before you post?

    I'm sorry... I know this must come off as a "troll" ... maybe I'm reading too much slashdot or something.

  • to how the (music|film) industry use their contacts to screw the people who actually make something interesting by insuring slow-cousin-ted gets some money. I know 'slow-cousin-ted' managed to become a lawyer, rather than a "film wrapper" in this round, but same applies.

    I always wondered how some insane serial killer/... could wake up in the morning, and not think "wow, maybe I overdid it last night". I feel that way when two beers in I decide to get honest. Look at the RIA* case - what sort of monste

  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @11:42AM (#32902690)

    It never was. Sidney Shemel and M. William Krasilovsky, two music industry attorneys, wrote the bible on the industry called This Business of Music. They observed the maturation of the CD format as an inevitability in the mid-1990's. I also wrote a paper about the coming internet distribution possibilities in 1996.

    Piracy is a growing threat a continuing decline in their bottom line, but that isn't the overall concern. The overall concern is the inevitable obsolescence of record companies themselves. Digital distribution cuts out so many middlemen in the distro monopoly that's been in place since the 1940's. It's got the potential to eliminate entire A&R departments, distributors, subdistributors, rack jobbers, one stops... the "record club" is already practically obsolete (remember Columbia House?).

    So, the industry is changing and these guys realize that the older conglomerates aren't small enough, agile enough, to possibly ever compete in the more diverse space of internet distro. They don't understand it. They can't dominate it. So, they're throwing lawyers at every granny and twelve year old not to stop the inevitable shift, but to slow it down.

    The problem is that piracy only gives them more ammunition to send lobbyists after Congress to get more dumb legislation passed like the DMCA. The real response to this? People need to speak with their pocketbooks and show the economic viability of the legit distro models that work, that they like, whatever, by purchasing through those models.

    That will send a message to the record labels and to the marketplace in general in the only language that they understand... "Cha-ching!"

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