RIAA Takes Away Freedoms that Should Be Protected

Recently, residents of Niejadlik Hall were greeted with flyers on their doors stating that, “Want to Pay $150,000? Software, Video and Music Piracy is illegal! The Record Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) is suing students for video and music piracy for $150,000 per file! Think twice about KaZaA, Morpheus, or other file sharing utilities.”

The R.I.A.A. is an oligopoly of the five biggest record companies in the world which include Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI Music, and BMG Music. They are currently investigating students who have copyrighted music and video files on their network space on university local area networks (LANs). LANs allow students to share their files with others by placing them in a public folder accessible to everyone using the LAN.

According to CNN the R.I.A.A. filed lawsuits on April 24 against students at Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michigan Technological University. Michigan Technological University’s President commented that he wished the industry had contacted the school, as they had done in the past, when copyright infringements are discovered. Their opinion is that universities should reprimand students who break the law, not the R.I.A.A.

ECSU administration has been contacted by the R.I.A.A. in the past regarding students who broke the law. However, in those cases, the R.I.A.A. did not file lawsuits against the students and the university reprimanded them.

I think it is inappropriate for the R.I.A.A. to sue college students for a variety of reasons, the most practical is that most college students do not possess millions of dollars. R.I.A.A. could sue lawbreakers based on the monetary value of the copyrighted material but suing $150,000 per file is being greedy. The greed of the R.I.A.A. is evident in their mission statement that reads that their goal is to “foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality”. No mention of serving the consumer is mentioned because as the record industry, they essentially have a monopoly.
Consumers should see the price of music declining as new technologies make music production costs decline. Charging consumers between $17 and $20 for music is unrealistic and, as a result, many are turning to the Internet to download copyrighted files for free. According to the Boycott R.I.A.A. website, record deals for big-name acts are often negotiated between $1 and $2 for each CD, retailers add on inventory and overhead costs which are usually $2 to $3, and the costs of a mass manufactured CD costs 30-40 cents to make. $6 is the average price put into making a CD so consumers are paying $11 to $14 to the record companies per CD they buy.

Another problem with the music industry is its failure to be consumer friendly. When consumers only hear two to three songs from an audio recording (an audio tape or a CD) on the radio, they take the chance that the other songs are just as good. There is no effective way to sample the music beforehand. Some stores have small machines that scan audio recording bar codes. These machines allow the consumer to hear the best segments of the best songs, how convenient for the record companies. I have noticed that many of these machines are either out-of-order or can only play some of the audio recordings that the store has.

If a consumer buys an audio recording and does not like it, the record industry has pressured retailers to tell the consumer that they basically are tough out of luck. Retailers will not accept returns on unopened audio recordings because they do not know whether the consumer has made a copy of it.

It is ineffective to enforce laws, such as copyright laws regarding video and music files, when such laws are difficult to enforce equally to everyone. The more laws our government imposes on society, the less time police will have to investigate and prosecute those accused of more serious crimes such as destruction of property, physical injury to others, or possible physical injury to others.

The right of privacy should not be compromised. Most states in our country enacted sodomy laws prohibiting certain sexual acts. What individuals do in private should be their business and not the business of the government. Similarly, how individuals choose to use their computer should be their own business unless an individual is participating in actions causing harm to others or destroying the property of others.

In conclusion, I hope that everyone understands that record companies want to get as much of your money as possible. Because of their power, the courts are on their side. As Americans, we should not allow corporations to continue to control our government and take away our freedoms.

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