Ah, the RIAA. Just as you're paying attention to some ridiculously bad law with awful unintended consequences they're pushing in one place, they pop up with a different law they've already (quietly) convinced politicians to pass somewhere else. Today's entry is a new law that has been approved by the legislature in Tennessee at the urging of the RIAA, which will make it a criminal offense to share your "entertainment subscription" login info
with anyone else. You're a college student, and you decide to go halfsies on a Netflix or Rhapsody subscription with a friend? Watch out, you may face a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. If law enforcement decides that the "value" of the content you watched is high enough, you could be charged with felony charges, and face much larger fines and longer jail sentences.
The way the law works is to add the "entertainment subscription" phrase to an existing law concerning unauthorized access to cable or satellite TV services. Not surprisingly, Mitch Glazier (a man famous for selling out all musicians
by allegedly sneaking a clause into a bill in the middle of the night that took away the rights of musicians to reclaim their copyrights... just months before taking a high paying RIAA job which he still holds today) is insisting this law is necessary to protect the music industry:
Mitch Glazier, executive vice president of public policy for the RIAA, said the bill is a necessary protective measure as digital technology evolves. The music industry has seen its domestic revenue plunge by more than half in 10 years, from $15 billion to $7 billion, he said.
Either Glazier is lying here or the reporter is quoting him way out of context. It may be true that revenue for the record labels
that Glazier represents has declined. But the revenue of the music industry
-- which includes things like concerts, merchandise, publishing and other areas has actually done pretty well. Besides, the idea that Glazier has any interest in protecting "music" is pretty laughable. His job is to protect labels, often at the expense of musicians.
And this particular piece of legislation is particularly stupid and shortsighted on the part of the RIAA. For the most part, if people are buying one of these subscriptions with the intent to share, at least they're still buying a subscription
and paying money to the industry. In the absence of that, it seems quite likely that they'll just go straight to full on infringement. Furthermore, the ability to share a single login with a few family members or friends is often seen as a part of the value
. That is, a family may decide that it's worth it
to buy such a subscription, because they can split it among a few different people. But, make that a crime
and you've just massively decreased the incentive
for people to buy such subscriptions.
The bill still needs to be signed by the governor, but it sounds like he's buying the bogus claims of Glazier and the RIAA on this one, saying that "I don’t know enough about that legislation, but if it's combating that issue [infringement], I would be in favor of it." Update
: Annnnnnnd... signed
. Of course.
And, of course, this is just a foot in the door sort of move. Once the RIAA has this in Tennessee, expect to see similar, if not identical legislation popping up in lots of other states as well.