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Why the RIAA isn't doing the music industry any favors

updated 11:15 am EDT, Fri May 14, 2010

Editorial: LimeWire win more harm than good

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has claimed victory against LimeWire after a years-long battle. Earlier this week, a US District Court ruled that the file-sharing site was responsible for causing copyright infringement through its service.

"The following factors, taken together, establish that LW intended to encourage infringement by distributing LimeWire: (1) LW's awareness of substantial infringement by users; (2) LW's efforts to attract infringing users; (3) LW's efforts to enable and assist users to commit infringement; (4) LW's dependence on infringing use for the success of its business; and (5) LW's failure to mitigate infringing activities," Judge Kimba Wood ruled.

The result of the ruling could mean the end of LimeWire, a long-time file-sharing service that enjoyed nearly unprecedented success in the market. LimeWire CEO George Searle said in a statement that although his company is displeased by the ruling, it plans to work "with the entire music industry" going forward to deliver music-based services that appeal to listeners.

For its part, the RIAA couldn't be happier. The organization wrote in a statement that the "ruling is an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community." It went on to say that it was "gratified by the court's careful and thorough analysis of the facts and applicable law."

But whether or not the RIAA's victory will actually work in the music industry's favor is decidedly up for debate. According to LimeWire's Web site, the service is the world's most popular peer-to-peer sharing program in the world with over 50 million unique users every month. The software is downloaded to user desktops "hundreds of thousands of times every day and boasts millions of active users at any moment."

Realizing that, the RIAA might have stirred up a hornet's nest. With over 50 million active users -- the majority of which download music -- LimeWire has the kind of clout that could do significant damage to the music industry's bottom line. After all, if that many users are accustomed to downloading their favorite songs for free, why would they want to pay for music after the industry has effectively shut down their favorite service? If nothing else, the RIAA knew where 50 million people were allegedly downloading music illegally. As it works towards shuttering the service, it could have 50 million people stealing tracks on different services across the Web, thus making it harder to stop piracy.

This seems like the same old story with the RIAA. Even after taking down Napster, the RIAA witnessed increased music piracy. And by casting a group of users in one service to an untold number of services across the Web, it became more difficult for the RIAA to track pirates.

The RIAA should have worked with LimeWire to keep it open, allowed users to download tracks, and received a piece of the action from the P2P service. It would have been a victory for all parties involved, including artists.

Instead, the RIAA has annoyed a huge group of people who allegedly pirate music, and could soon force them to go elsewhere to continue downloading songs illegally.

How does that help the industry?

Piracy certainly shouldn't be endorsed. But the RIAA's practices shouldn't be celebrated either. If the organization wants to help the music industry, its leaders need to think a little before they act.

Editorial by Don Reisinger

by MacNN Staff



  1. Integr8d

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'd appreciate a little more honesty from the MAFI

    They shouldn't trot out the artists. This has never been and never will be about the artists.

    Just be like, "Hey. We're greedy pigs. And we're happy the court ruled for us. So there... Tell my wife she can pick up her new Bentley at noon."

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Do you guys know who Don Reisinger is?

    He's a complete idiot (the guy who wrote this story). His analysis of anything, Macs, music, PCs, etc. is terribly illogical. He makes Testudo look like a genius. i read this guy for a while some years ago and dropped him like a hot potato. Nowhere in his article does he really reveal how the RIAA would benefit from doing things HIS way. It reminds me of when Apple was being prodded by people to open their OS for others to use (how was Apple going to make money from that?) IBM ended up by getting out of the PC business. S. Jobs put an end to that since he said, Apple was not making money, the new Apple-like start ups were taking away their business. Reisinger has never made any sense and this is proof he is hopeless. He doesn't care about the music industry, he only care that he gets website hits. What a moron.

  1. jfgilbert

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let's define piracy

    A majority of people who download music are not pirates, they are window shoppers and people who just want to find out what is out there. When they download a song, it is usually not because they wanted it for free, it is because they wanted to find out it they will like it. We don't have the time to listen to the radio anymore and there are not enough stations willing to play little known numbers, there are no record stores to go listen to new tracks, so, when your buddy tells you that such-and-such band is cool, you have nowhere to go to sample it, but file sharing sites. Limewire was doing for the RIAA what the labels used to pay for, until they were convicted and had to be more discreet with Payola, but they don't want it because they cannot control it. This is not about piracy, this is about control.
    The role of the labels as a distribution and promotion channel has become an unnecessary and expensive gate keeper, all they are doing now is trying to slow down the march towards oblivion.

  1. ElectroTech

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Unbelievably Clueless Article

    The critical issue in this case is justice. It is wrong to take something that doesn't belong to you. LimeWire knowingly aided the theft of millions of songs and harmed the legitimate sale of music from services like ITunes.

  1. chas_m



    Agreed with most of the above posters

    This "editorial" is a very poor argument.

    Let me get this out of the way first: I'm no friend of the RIAA. Quite the opposite, really.

    BUT Mr. Reisenger, having said that Limewire's customers are accustomed to getting music for free, advises the RIAA to instead "get a piece of the action."

    WHAT action? That nobody-makes-any-money action?

    I believe artists and copyright holders should be paid for their work. I don't think people should steal, and in my view downloading music for free is stealing from (ultimately) people you profess to admire. I often use this analogy to illustrate what I mean: let's say you went to a gas station, filled up your car, then drove off.

    Do you REALLY think you hurt the big oil companies by doing that? Or did you really just rip off the little guy who owns the station?

    Same situation here. I may not like the Big Four's business and royalty model, but the musicians were not held at gunpoint to sign with them, and at least when I buy a CD or tracks from iTunes, they get SOME money as opposed to NO money. Until a better system comes along, one should play by the rules or not participate at all.

    But I digress. There is an argument to be made that the RIAA are hurting the music business, but Mr. Reisinger completely failed to make that case. His article is poorly written, his "argument" non-existant, his logic unclear. MacNN can -- and should -- do a lot better.

  1. Unblowupable5

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: chas_m

    I couldn't have said it better myself. This really is a terrible, terrible article...

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I am not a pirate

    I am not a pirate and yet I did download music in the past. Why? To sample different music for my wedding. I also used to sample different bands via downloads. After the RIAA made it a pain in the backside I simply used iTunes to test music, BUT a 30 second clip doesn't necessarily do justice to a song. I have some real stinkers because of this model.

    So, in the end, what did I do? I gave up on the U.S. music scene unless I hear a small or local band and want their music.

    The RIAA and the labels they support have not gotten a penny from me in close to 6 years, nor will they in the future.

    THIS is what people need to do. Just choke off the RIAA and its labels and let them die a slow death.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @chas_m - Just a quick note on "stealing"

    Not in favor of stealing or piracy in any way, but your analogy of not paying for gas is flawed.

    When you steal a tank of gas, the owner of the gas station is shorted $x.xx per gallon. He loses product cost and profit. He has to make up this difference.

    When someone downloads a song, there is no physical loss. it's data that is copied. Akin to xeroxing a book from the library. yes, there was copyright infringement, but there is no profit loss to anyone.

    Now do I understand that someone who pirates a song could equate to a lost sale, but I think most of the people who pirate music/movies/software, etc would not buy it in the first place.

    I have burned mix CD's for friends, lent people movies and books, etc.. and think of magazines at the doctors office. Magazines purchased by one person and shared with several hundred. all of this activity would fall under the category of lost sales as well.. but doesn't seem to be illegal or frowned upon in any way.

    Just saying :)

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The pre-teen logic and lack of ethical foundation is astounding whenever an article like this appears. Posters will take great pains to cook up a convoluted path of reasoning that makes it okay to steal the property of others and then blame their victims for "making" them do it. They actually think they are Robin Hood or something, taking from the evil RIAA and giving it to, well, themselves apparently. Take for example the junvenile post above that states, rather matter-of-factly, that most people are just downloading music so they can decide if they want to buy it or not. Really? I mean, REALLY? Talk about using screwy logic to justify their actions. I personally know a guy who has three 1TB drives full of music he downloaded over the years. He's proud of it. You give him a storage device of any type and he will fill it up for you with any genre of music you want, tens of thousands of songs. Why? Because he can, that's why. He's obsessed with it and doesn't think twice about it.

    I hope the RIAA continues it's crusade and continues to go after individual thieves.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We are witnessing a grand experiment

    There hasn't been any industry in history that has saved itself from a disinterested consumer, through lawsuits.

    We forget that consumers have always downloaded music for free - years ago there was this thing called the "radio".

    The radio exposed you to the song, and then if you like it, you need to buy it on a record.

    That was great, you had your free, you had your pay. And from the record company perspective, they had the absolutely required - free wide distribution - needed to create exposure to new products, and they had the final payday as well.

    People have not changed, the only thing that has changed is some of the other variables. Nowadays, Radio does not serve the purpose of the wide distribution - the internet does.

    For years there was no pay model though, and that was the record companies fault. Nowadays, we have some pay models - iTunes, and they have been a great success.

    Still, its so easy just to record the song...the thing about records, is they most certainly were not easy to press for the average pretty much needed a record company to provide the service.

    Record companies don't really provide any service now....they aren't required, the consumer can "press" their own.

    So, now....we have this grand experiment, can the RIAA sue sue and sue some more, until the service being provided by going with a pay company, by buying from the iTunes, is that you aren't being sued.

    That's just an amazing negative idea that they have, and its never worked before for any company, anywhere throughout the history of capitalism, so we'll see if they are right.

    Personally I think Apple got it right - figure out a way to actually provide a premium service that people want for POSITIVE reasons.

    Such strategies have often worked, and Apple has proven that it works here too.

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