RIAA Claims File Sharers Are 'Undermining Humanitarian Efforts In Haiti', But Leaves Out The Facts
from the oh-please dept
Wow. The RIAA is getting seriously desperate these days. In the past, at least, its arguments made a little bit of sense, if you didn’t understand the details or have the data. But these days, they’re really reaching. We’ve already covered Mitch Bainwol’s bizarre attempt to link Chinese hackers breaking into Google with copyright law — despite the two being totally unconnected. And, now, the RIAA is claiming that P2P file sharers are “undermining” humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Now that’s quite a claim, and you would think the RIAA would have some evidence to back it up, but (of course), it doesn’t. It’s just making stuff up.
The claim is based on the fact that some musicians quickly put out a “Hope for Haiti Now” digital only album, with the proceeds going to help Haiti. It apparently did quite well, topping the Billboard sales charts. Considering there were tons of ways to donate to Haiti, this was basically a way to get some free music with your donation. Fair enough. But the RIAA noticed that the tracks also appeared on file sharing sites. This is hardly a surprise, nor is it meaningful. But, according to the RIAA’s interpretation, this somehow “undermines” humanitarian efforts:
The album is now widely available on illicit BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Torrentz and more. The posting highlights a truly ugly side of P2P piracy — the undermining of humanitarian fundraising efforts via online theft of the “Hope for Haiti Now” compilation. So much for the notion that illegal downloading (“sharing”) is an effort to help advance the plight of artists.
So much wrong in so few words. First of all, the album is “available” on the internet. The Pirate Bay, Torrentz and those other sites aren’t hosting the album at all. They may be pointing to it, but so is Google. Is that also an “illicit” site? It’s amusing, but the blog post the RIAA links to, in an effort to back up this claim, highlights how he found out about it being available via a Google search. But notice what the RIAA did here? Rather than focus on where the file actually is, it blames The Pirate Bay, even though their own source actually used Google to find it, and the files aren’t hosted by The Pirate Bay. That’s called being disingenuous, at best.
Next, how does this “undermine” anything? If someone wanted to donate to Haiti, there were countless ways to do so. If someone donated a bunch of money directly to the Red Cross, and then chose to get those songs via an unauthorized copy, is that really undermining humanitarian efforts? And for those who downloaded an unauthorized copy and didn’t donate anywhere, does anyone at the RIAA seriously believe they would have bought the album otherwise? I recognize that the RIAA thinks music powers everything, but no one bought the album because it was the best way to donate to Haiti.
And that last sentence is a total non sequitur. What does humanitarian aid have to do with advancing the plight of artists? And who said that file sharing was “an effort to help advance the plight of artists” in the first place? No one. The RIAA is just setting up bizarre totally unrelated strawmen to knock down.
But the much bigger issue is that the whole premise of the RIAA post appears to be wrong. It turns out that, while the albums are available via these unauthorized means, almost no one is downloading them. MusicAlly saw the RIAA’s blog post, and figured it would check in to see just how much downloading was going on to undermine those Haitian humanitarian efforts… and discovered that very, very, very few people are downloading the album. Considering the sales of the album topped the charts, a comparison was done between downloads of this album and Lady Gaga’s hit album, and they found that the charity album is barely noticeable:
At its peak on 24th January, Hope For Haiti Now was being downloaded 2,680 times a day according to BigChampagne — compare that to The Fame Monster’s 63,845 downloads the same day. Meanwhile, by 23rd February, Hope For Haiti Now’s daily downloads had dwindled to 820, compared to 47,971 for the Gaga album.
In other words, despite the claims of the RIAA, file sharers certainly weren’t “undermining” anything. They certainly weren’t particularly interested in downloading this album at all. Looks like the RIAA has been caught making up arguments that have no relation to fact, yet again.