Five Years Into Suing Fans, RIAA's 'Sue Everyone' Strategy Has Failed, Miserably
from the and-yet-it-continues dept
The EFF has a long and comprehensive look into the RIAA’s five year (and running) legal campaign against file sharing. It’s a great overview that not only brings you up to speed if you haven’t been following the whole thing, but also puts the entire campaign in perspective. The summary? Almost every move the RIAA has made in its legal campaign has backfired.
It started with suing technology providers. All that did was make more people aware of file sharing. When it succeeded in getting Napster shut down, plenty of others showed up that were much more difficult to shut down. So, then, the RIAA shifted to suing individuals accused of unauthorized sharing, claiming that it was an “education campaign” to teach people that unauthorized file sharing was illegal. All that’s done is turn many more people against the RIAA, while continuing to educate them that file sharing exists. In fact, many more people engage in file sharing now than five years ago when the campaign started.
So, effectively, the lawsuits haven’t worked (the RIAA has not had a full trial turn out in its favor yet). It’s turned public opinion massively against the RIAA and its associated record labels. It hasn’t done anything to slow down unauthorized file sharing, and may have actually helped promote it. About the only “success” of the strategy is that it’s turned into something of a cash generator for the RIAA, by frightening people, with strong legal language around flimsy evidence, into paying “presettlements” to avoid being sued. It’s like a protection racket from organized crime. Oh yeah, it’s worth noting that the musicians don’t actually see any of that money.
So, by now it should be clear that this strategy has absolutely nothing to do with helping the music industry thrive or to actually deal with unauthorized file sharing. From the beginning it’s always been a way to squeeze more money out of people through threats and intimidation. While I strongly disagree with the EFF’s proposed “solution” to this issue (a compulsory licensing scheme), the review of the history certainly puts the whole campaign in perspective, and makes you wonder why anyone (especially any politician) actually thinks it’s about helping musicians.