RIAA Spent $90 Million In Lobbying The US In The Past Decade

from the and-musicians-got? dept

If you want to know why US politicians seem to always rollover and support the preferred legislative agenda of the recording industry, perhaps it’s because the RIAA has spent $90 million in lobbying in the US alone since 2000 — and the numbers have increased as the decade wore on. In 2000 the RIAA spent $4 million in lobbying, but by 2009, it spent $17.5 million. Of course, the spend has been somewhat in inverse correlation to the success of the major record labels. Considering how often we hear people assume that correlation of file sharing stats to record label revenue means file sharing is the cause of the labels problems, shouldn’t they also claim that the more the RIAA spends on lobbying, the worse the labels do as well? Perhaps the answer for the record labels is to get the RIAA to stop lobbying.

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Comments on “RIAA Spent $90 Million In Lobbying The US In The Past Decade”

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73 Comments
Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Someone please help me understand this!!!!

Lobbying (also Lobby) is money with the intention of influencing decisions made by legislators and officials in the government by individuals, other legislators, constituents, or advocacy groups.

Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

How is Lobbying different from Bribery? They have almost the exact same definition, with the exception that bribery is a crime and a form of corruption.

Doesn’t anyone see the irony in an industry that complains about theft, actively engaging in Bribery? If they call file sharing theft, shouldn’t we call lobbying bribery?

Anonymous Coward says:

Someone please help me understand this!!!!

The money is called a “campaign contribution” instead of a “bribe”, and both sides pretend that the politician in question doesn’t just pocket the money.
US companies have been buying laws to hinder their competition in that manner since around the 1870s. Margarine is a classic example, with the dairy industry buying several arbitrary laws into existence, including one requiring margarine to be dyed pink.
Of course, these days it’s less “pink margarine” and more “95-year copyright”…

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

awwwwwwwwwwwwwww poor little mikee

Poor little mikee… Are you jealous that your not getting anywhere with your “poor woe is me” website?

If you wanted to make any difference in anything other than your wallet you would lobby just as much as the RIAA instead of getting on your high horse and crying about how Data should have rights, and it should be free and culture is being lost blah blah blah blah….

The RIAA is play the politians game their way, and no offense, but your getting your ass kicked in your battle for piracy. And you know why your getting your ass kicked? You just sit here and pout and whine like a little brat that didn’t get his way.

The only ones listening are the ones just as lazy as your are, and you’ve managed to even turn a proffit off the morons.

You have advertisers on here that mock you by advertising with you in the first place. Advertisers like Dell, and even Verizon would lose their edge in the market place if you got your way, but they show so little respect for you that they just use your bandwidth to make more money so that they can further kick your ass in D.C. and sit back and laugh at you for allowing it to happen.

Grow a pair, get some morals and drop the Advertisers that mock you and start playing it their way. Or pack up and go back to your conspiracy theories about the Government having secret assasins and gangs of hired hackers out after the owner of Wikileaks etc…

Hell I’d say go write a book or something, but you don’t even have the talent to write an entire post on here that is original, you have to do nothing but take other peoples work and do nothing more than copy and paste, then throw in a few comments to make it “fair use” and scan the readers into thinking you were “the first” to post about something.

I do have to give you credit though, you are pretty good with the alter egos that you use for posting all the supportive comments. Especially the ones that like to refer to me as a troll or the funniest ones that claim I am in the music Industry or whatever…

Hell the commentor egos are more entertaining than the posts themselves… How about you bring back your alter named “anti-mike” or better yet “dark helmet” they you had some pretty good comments using those alternate names…

JR Smith (profile) says:

Lobbying

That’s right, shoot the messenger. Lobbying should be illegal as it is in certain other countries. It is nothing more than legalized bribery.

We need to replace this poor excuse for a government with a government that actually serves the public interest. This must start with Congressional TERM LIMITS.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath. The electorate is too apathetic and sometimes extremely stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Um, because the major labels represented by the RIAA are in decline while RIAA spending on lobbying increases. The Tech industry is growing. Either they are putting in place more successful business models than the recording industry or they employ better lobbyists.

Either way, the RIAA seem to be wasting money.

I like the way you refer to Mike as Masnick. It sets a nice adversarial tone.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

So, you’ve given up even attempting a civil conversation and launch straight into the personal attacks now? Classy, yet again.

As for relevance, there’s been a large number of stories over the last few years about questionable decisions being made by politicians in favour of the way the music industry currently does business. Decisions that favour the incumbent corporations ahead of artists, consumers and new businesses. If you honestly can’t see why $90 million of lobbying money isn’t relevant in light of that, you’re not looking very hard at what’s going on around you.

I still don’t see what tech companies have to do with this.

Steve R. (profile) says:

The CD "Contribution"

According to Entertainment & Stars: Music sales continue downward slump. According to the story, album sales totaled 326.2 million in 2010. That means that each CD sold (assuming RIAA involvement) contributed $0.036 to the lobbying effort. (I assume that the RIAA may get money from other sources too.)

May not be a big deal now, but if sales continue to decline and the RIAA increases its lobbying budget this “tax” could become a major drag on sales.

The article also states: “This is the fourth straight year that music sales in the US have shown a downward trend.”. At least the article made no gratuitous unsupported accusation of piracy as the reason for the decline in sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

I love the logic. If only the RIAA stopped lobbying, suddenly the bottom line of the music business would improve greatly. Right. Where did you get your MBA from?

Perhaps it would be better to frame the RIAA’s lobbying effort with others. Without some reference, there is no way to understand what this really represented. How many billions of dollars is the music business in the US, and what percentage do they put to lobbying? Where does that rank against corn, tobacco, big oil, or homeless rights groups?

17 million is a nice golly number. But scaled to the size of their business, it is less than 2/10ths of a percent of income. They spend more on coffee for the lunch rooms.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

“I love the logic. If only the RIAA stopped lobbying, suddenly the bottom line of the music business would improve greatly. Right. Where did you get your MBA from?”

Actually, basic logic would answer this for you… it may not increase the bottom line, but the first thing you do when you’re in a hole is stop digging. If the recording industry is hemorrhaging money as it claims, why keep spending so much on changing law instead of investing the money into the development of a successful business model?

“Perhaps it would be better to frame the RIAA’s lobbying effort with others.”

That’s comparing apples to oranges, ears of corn, tobacco leaves, and oil barrels. They are all different industries and all have different regulations. Therefore, in a more heavily-regulated arena, you would spend more on lobby since the regulation (law) has a stronger hold on your income.

“17 million is a nice golly number. But scaled to the size of their business, it is less than 2/10ths of a percent of income. They spend more on coffee for the lunch rooms.”

any references for this? I get where you’re going, but I’d be interested to see the proof that their lobby budget is that low on the line-item sheet. I know the coffee is just a sarcastic example and I don’t want to hold you to ‘how much do they spend on coffee’, but unless you have their full budget info, how can you know how much they spend on any of it?

Marco says:

Someone please help me understand this!!!!

It’s easy man,

One was approved to be legal and other is illegal. Simple as that. Same sh!t, different name. People are stupid enough to put stupid politicians deciding for them. In my country same crap … But only now some companies are starting to try to use lobbies … but it’s still considered corruption … yet …

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Someone please help me understand this!!!!

“bribery by middle class is???”

Bribery by the middle class is impossible. The middle class essentially doesn’t even exist anymore in the US.

There are the “haves” and the “have nots” – if you don’t know which you are are then you’re a “have not”.

If you can afford to even entertain the thought of bribery then you are a “have”.

When the “haves” use materials from other sources this is seen as business as usual and it’s “how we’ve always done things”!

When the “have nots” use materials from other sources even legitimately, this is theft/piracy, and is quickly followed by a “have” “lobbying/bribing” the necessary officials to make sure the act is classified as such and all appropriate “have nots” shall be brought to justice!

When the hypocrisy is pointed out by a “have not” the “haves” then classify the said “have not” as a “freetard”.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

I wasn’t trying to call you to task on numbers. I was trying to point out that arguing amount on this is missing the point.

The company I work for is facing some serious financial issues. Some of the changes that are coming about really are pocket change to the big picture. But every little bit does help. A combination of small changes along with major shifts in our company’s way of doing business is what’s going to save us in the long run.

So too with the music industry. Stop wasting money on trying to affect change in unnecessary regulation and move those resources towards new business models that aren’t as challenged by the changing times. Seems like a more logical way to go.

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re:

Considering how often we hear people assume that correlation of file sharing stats to record label revenue means file sharing is the cause of the labels problems, shouldn’t they also claim that the more the RIAA spends on lobbying, the worse the labels do as well? Perhaps the answer for the record labels is to get the RIAA to stop lobbying.

Perhaps I’m missing the point, or perhaps having an English/American translation issue….
I took Mike to be sarcastic and mean that since the correlation is just as strong between the lobbying budget and descreased sales and piracy and sales they may as well blame the one as the other as neither are the real problem of crappy business models. But you guys seem to be having such fun arguing about it perhaps I’m wrong.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

awwwwwwwwwwwwwww poor little mikee

“Ok, you got me. I have corresponded with Tim in the past and I’d be SHOCKED if I found out that him and Mike are the same guy.”

Same here chatted with, and emailed Tim. I may have spoken to him at one point, to much telcom in my life in the last year to be certain.

“I thought everyone here except angrydude (who has been gone for a while), me and Michial were Mike’s alts.”

Neat thing. If Mike is creating all us imaginary friends then he is also creating our web sites, answering our e-mails, and has Nina Paley locked up in a basement somewhere so he can respond to her emails. ๐Ÿ™‚ Or maybe Mike is Nina and is all those picture of her are of mike in drag …

if so, Mike you have nice nockers ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line, 1939

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re:

At this point, I don’t think the music industry sees a new business model that has anywhere near as much money involved. It is also incredibly stupid to think that a business should be shut down only because of rampant thievery. It really seems stupid to end up in this place, and to have the government tolerate it.

A/ No “rampant thievery” is taking place. Unless there. has been a massive outbreak of shoplifting I’m unaware of.
B/ The idea is to make money. The amount of profit in any given venture fluctuates in response to the market demands. Instead of railing against the tide, use it for generating electricity or something.
C/ It seems more stupid still to have the goverment artificially prop up an industry. That’s called protectionism and has done more harm than good every single time it’s been tried anywhere so no matter why it’s bound to fail.

herodotus (profile) says:

Re:

“At this point, I don’t think the music industry sees a new business model that has anywhere near as much money involved. It is also incredibly stupid to think that a business should be shut down only because of rampant thievery. It really seems stupid to end up in this place, and to have the government tolerate it.”

OK, let us grant, for the sake of argument, that copyright infringement and ‘thievery’ are synonymous.

Let us also grant that this thievery is indeed rampant.

Let us grant, further, that it is the government’s job to stop this thievery.

The question, then, is: ‘How?’

Look at The 1977 NYC blackout. Over 3,000 people were arrested in less than 24 hours, and yet over 1,500 stores were damaged by looting and over 1,000 major fires had to be put out.

The police on that day had an impossible job. So, too, would anyone who actually wanted to implement a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to file sharing. There simply isn’t enough manpower to stop it, or even to cut it by 10%. Hell, they can barely slow the rate of growth, which could only be called a victory by someone in desperation.

Now, if this were real looting and thievery we were talking about, then, sure, send in the national guard. But we are talking about copying and sharing digital files. No one dies or gets physically injured by this newer form of looting. Innocent bystanders aren’t affected the way they are with real looting. This simply isn’t scary enough to merit the extreme measures that would be necessary to actually do something about it.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

Yeah, I have to chime in with the other two… there’s no ‘theft’ going on here. We’ve discussed and proven (to my satisfaction… and others’) that copyright infringement does not equal theft.

That said, I do see what you mean: why should the industry have to change because of someone else’s actions? A valid question, but one with an easy answer: because they have no choice. Think of the horse-carriage industry, the pre-printing press copiers… anyone who has ever been put out by something else changing the landscape. The industry has to adapt to this new environment or perish.

As far as the government tolerating it… why should they do anything about it? It’s not the government’s place to enforce or protect any business model. Now we have in the past allowed them (and even asked them) to put laws in place to give them that power, but I don’t think they should have it.

This all comes back to the free-market ideal we hold so dear… the market itself will dictate the terms of the game. It’s wrong for the government to step in and force the market to allow or disallow anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Someone please help me understand this!!!!

“How is Lobbying different from Bribery?
Because lobbying involves lawyers and lawyers are the ones who make the distinction.”

Just like how when lawyers ask for money to make a problem go away it’s called a “pre-settlement offer”, when anyone else does this it’s called extortion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Zero tolerance on file sharing isn’t anyones goal. In the same manner that mix tapes and whatnot were tolerated in the past, I am sure that everyone in the business would be more than happy to return to those sorts of levels.

The real goal is to discourage those people who are casual downloaders, in the same manner that drug enforcement isn’t just to get rid of the big players, but also to discourage people from risking being in a drug house, etc. It is one of the reason California’s pot rules are so dangerous, because they make the illegal seem casual.

While I do not have numbers that I will quote, I know that reports put up on here before show that significant amounts of piracy occur with a fairly small group of people. Companies like AT&T and Comcast, when discussing heavy bandwidth users, said something like 5% of the people use much of the bandwidth. The numbers are not huge. You may never change those people.

The real targets (as you can see in court) are people like Jammie Thomas, a fairly casual file sharer who didn’t know it was wrong – or at least that it wasn’t that wrong. Changing those peoples’ minds is what will tip the balance on file sharing in the long run.

My feeling is that it is a little close than many people think. File sharing was sort of the ultimate long tail experience. Everyone going back and getting all the tv shows and music from their past that they didn’t have, downloading stuff just because they could. Over time, those people have been satisfied and their desire to download isn’t there anymore. They might go looking for the new song from whoever, but for the most part, their P2P client is off and they aren’t using up their bandwidth on it anymore.

More so that people are moving to mobile platforms, and those platforms are just not supporting P2P in the same manner. Few people are going to want to run their battery down or eat up their bandwidth peering something. These are the sorts of people who may not even turn a desktop on at home anymore. Huge shift coming!

In the end, it isn’t about zero tolerance. It’s about not letting crime get so out of hand that the internet turns into one large bad neighborhood.

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re:

The real goal is to discourage those people who are casual downloaders, in the same manner that drug enforcement isn’t just to get rid of the big players, but also to discourage people from risking being in a drug house, etc. It is one of the reason California’s pot rules are so dangerous, because they make the illegal seem casual.

Oooo subtle! LOVE the way you casually do the “file sharing = drugs” thing that’s SUCH a good comparison and not at all pejorative.

I suppose while we’re on crappy analogies there is at least ONE similarity between the “war on drugs” and the “war on piracy”… they are both equally futile.
The “drug war” has been going on for longer and.. well.. any success at all? amount of drugs going down? Amount of your population you have locked up from drug offenses going down? Amountof users going down at all?
Hmm if you limit it to that specific thing maybe not such a bad analogy after all.

My feeling is that it is a little close than many people think. File sharing was sort of the ultimate long tail experience. Everyone going back and getting all the tv shows and music from their past that they didn’t have, downloading stuff just because they could. Over time, those people have been satisfied and their desire to download isn’t there anymore. They might go looking for the new song from whoever, but for the most part, their P2P client is off and they aren’t using up their bandwidth on it anymore.

And since we’re inexplicably talking about drugs.. I’ll have a couple of what you’re smoking because fantasy like that doesn’t happen without SERIOUS medication! Do you have any evidence at all to back up such wild statements beyond desperate hope? Do you perhaps work for the record industry because that might explain why their business model has little relation to reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The war on drugs differs greatly because there is an extreme profit motivation. You don’t see too many file downloaders with gold grills driving their new ‘Slade from all the cash they made off of piracy (TPB owners excluded). You cannot even begin to compare the two on any level except the way certain things are done.

Do you remember when it use to be one guy on the street corner selling drugs? Now it’s one guy meeting you, another guy who takes your cash, a third guy that shows you where to go, and a fourth guy actually giving you the dope. All of this to try to avoid law enforcement.

In piracy, you have the same thing. Torrents rather than direct downloads, P2P instead of direct downloads, VPNs, encryption, packet bashing… it all comes to the same thing.

The only difference is that there isn’t enough money in piracy (except for a very few at the top) to make it worth doing when the heat is on. There is no actual addiction driving people to do it.

In the end, piracy is entirely a social phenomena, and something that can and will change over time. The corner on piracy was turned in late 2009 or early 2010, depending on who you ask, and it is in a slow and steady decline.

A few more Jammie Thomas cases, and the tide will change even faster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“In the end, piracy is entirely a social phenomena, and something that can and will change over time. The corner on piracy was turned in late 2009 or early 2010, depending on who you ask, and it is in a slow and steady decline.

A few more Jammie Thomas cases, and the tide will change even faster.”

To this I can simply say “Wow!”. Do you honestly believe that? Keep telling yourself that if it honestly makes you feel better.

In reality, methods are changing to less detectable methods. While I do agree in part with this…

“File sharing was sort of the ultimate long tail experience. Everyone going back and getting all the tv shows and music from their past that they didn’t have, downloading stuff just because they could.”

… I would also equate that with the boom in CD sales in the 90’s and the decline in the last decade.

The recording industry deserves no tears or government protection for being utterly greedy and stupid. They, in their greed of trying to get everyone to repurchase again in yet a new format, severely shot themselves in the foot, unwittingly, by going digital. TV & movie studios included.

As for the Jammie Thomas comment, the only tide that is changing is the notion that file-sharers will actually be penalized the obscene amounts that the copyright holders want. Judges are waking up to the fact that that the DMCA was written pre-Napster and was not intended to be used against “casual file-sharers” but against profiting counterfeiters and that obscene, lifetime crippling, judgments against those who sought no profit are unconstitutional.

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re:

Impressive. You managed to go from comparing file sharing to drugs in a fairly general way

The real goal is to discourage those people who are casual downloaders, in the same manner that drug enforcement isn’t just to get rid of the big players, but also to discourage people from risking being in a drug house, etc.

To telling me the two have little relationship

You cannot even begin to compare the two on any level except the way certain things are done.

and this when it was I who used a very specific (and facetious) example of your analogy not mine. Or does the analogy work only as long as no-one uses it to show something you don’t like?

You really don’t have a point do you? Just floundering around and wishing.

I also notice you picked on your own analogy ignoring in the process the point it made about the futility such a fight represents and also ignored the suggestion that you provide evidence to support your wild assertations that are against common wisdom and observation.

If “piracy” is dying a natural death as you suggest then why exactly do the media companies still bri.. er.. “lobby” government into enacting ever more draconian laws that turn their paying customers into criminals?

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re:

“The real targets (as you can see in court) are people like Jammie Thomas, a fairly casual file sharer who didn’t know it was wrong – or at least that it wasn’t that wrong. Changing those peoples’ minds is what will tip the balance on file sharing in the long run.”

So you say the targets are the fans who don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong? The people who aren’t trying to make an illegal buck off of this? Those are the people that the RIAA and MPAA are targeting? Please tell me you’re not part of the RIAA’s or MPAA’s public relations.

And, by the way, if you’re trying to paint a picture of the kindly parents trying to gently correct a child’s wrong… maybe “target” isn’t the best word to use.

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