RIAA Claims It Succeeded In Getting Piracy Under Control Years Ago

from the um,-what? dept

This one's just bizarre. Via Eric Goldman, we learn of an opinion piece in the Tennessean newspaper, in which the RIAA argues that its strategy of suing tens of thousands of file sharers "succeeded" in "bringing piracy under control." The opinion piece is a response to an earlier story in the paper that claimed (quite reasonably, I might add) that the sue fans strategy failed, because "the suits ultimately proved ineffective in ending systematic online piracy." The RIAA, however, says the goal has never been to end piracy, but to "bring it under sufficient control" and they claim they succeeded.

The RIAA's argument makes little sense. Here's the basis for their success claims:
Our legal efforts served as an essential educational tool: Fans know far more now about copyright laws and the legal consequences of stealing music than ever before. Before initiating lawsuits in 2003, only 35 percent of people knew file-sharing on P2P was illegal; afterward, awareness grew to 70 percent.

Where there was virtually no legal digital market before the lawsuits, today the market exceeds $3 billion annually, and revenue from online platforms will comprise more than 50 percent of total industry revenues this year. To boot, there are more than 400 licensed digital services worldwide, compared with fewer than 50 in 2003
First of all, none of that has anything to do with "bringing piracy under control." For all of the supposed "education," all it really served to do was teach more people about file sharing. The amount of file sharing wasn't brought under control, it sky-rocketed, and there's good reason to suggest it was helped along by the legal strategy. There have been studies in the past about how education campaigns telling people not to do something will often increase that action. For example, signs that tell people not to remove rocks from the petrified forest in Arizona were shown to lead to greater rock taking. So I'm not sure what the RIAA thinks it accomplished here.

Furthermore, it's completely laughable that the RIAA is suggesting here that its legal strategy had anything to do with the "legal digital market." The labels were pushed kicking and screaming into iTunes and other offerings. That had absolutely nothing to do with its legal strategy.

But, let's get to the key point: if the RIAA truly believes that it successfully brought piracy under control via these lawsuits that ended a few years ago... why is it supporting things like SOPA and PROTECT IP? After all, isn't the problem solved?

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  1. identicon
    The Jester, 6 Dec 2011 @ 10:53am

    Time to lower the Jolly Roger

    Trading media over the Internet is not 'piracy.' Piracy is an act of robbery or violence at sea. Trading media is copyright infringement. The most basic theory of 'theft' in US law includes depriving the rightful owner of their property. If they still have their property, it can't be theft. Even though the media companies have hornswaggled Congress and the Justice department into doing their job for them, copyright, patent and trademark infringement are civil offenses, not crimes.

    I routinely download movies via bit torrent to supplement my legitimate Netflix and Hulu accounts. After viewing, my most common reaction is, 'Man, am I glad I didn't pay to watch that.' Let's face it, movies are a pig in a poke. Last week, my daughter and I saw Hugo in 3D in the theater. When filmmakers start making more movies like that, I will happily spend more time attending theatrical releases.

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