The record industry stands like King Canute commanding consumers not to copy and share music and like Canute it appears doomed to fail. It has filed over 20,000 lawsuits against music fans but has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing. The tide has truly swung.
The Recording Industry Association of America, continue to spew out letters to college students and others demanding payment and threatening a legal battle but has it finally lost the plot and gone a step too far?
Jeffrey Howell, from Scottsdale Arizona refused to pay up and took the case to court. Howell, kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, something that many of us do. The industry now maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer. It beggars belief that the RIAA want to pick a fight with almost all its public. It agues that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.
The Washington Post reports that the RIAA web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."
In a Los Angeles Times poll, 69% of teenagers surveyed said they thought it was legal to copy a CD they own and give it to a friend. The RIAA cites a study that found that more than half of current college students download music and movies illegally.
The Washington Post put it succinctly in saying, ‘The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed.’
The RIAA has created a market of customers who specifically now look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies. There are salient lessons here for all intermediaries.