Labels facing backlash from big court win?


A Minnesota jury ordered that a woman should pay $1.92M for downloading 24 songs from a file-sharing site — $80K per – prompting eclectic musician moby to comment that RIAA should be disbanded. The jury actually ratcheted up the total, which had only been set at $222K in an earlier trial.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the defendant, claims she didn’t even commit the crime – speculating that it was either her ex-boyfriend or one of her children who must have done the downloads. She commented, “The only thing I can say is good luck trying to get it, because you can’t get blood out of a turnip.”

It’s doubtful she’ll pay that much. Some feel the disproportionate size of the award raises constitutional issues. Many expect either a settlement or an appeal will be the next step.

Addressing the matter in a blog post, moby (who eschews capital letters which we have put in to quiet a confused word processor), wrote. “Argh. What utter nonsense. This is how the record companies want to protect themselves? Suing suburban moms for listening to music? Charging $80,000 per song? Punishing people for listening to music is exactly the wrong way to protect the music business. Maybe the record companies have adopted the ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ approach to dealing with music fans. I don’t know, but ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ doesn’t seem like such a sustainable business model when it comes to consumer choice. How about a new model of ‘it’s better to be loved for helping artists make good records and giving consumers great records at reasonable prices’? I’m so sorry that any music fan anywhere is ever made to feel bad for making the effort to listen to music.”

He concluded, “The RIAA needs to be disbanded.”

RBR/TVBR observation: That’s the RIAA plan. Sit by and watch your business model vanish, then sue your customers, then attack your promotional partners in the radio business, all while maintaining your traditional sour relationship with the artists that are the source of the entire business. No wonder they’re desperate for cash.

There is speculation that the big court win may make some legislators reluctant to stand side-by-side with the labels in support of the Performance Rights Act. Sounds like a sharp political move to us.

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