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RIAA Brings Attack To Customers, Sues College Students

RIAA Brings Attack To Customers, Sues College Students

by , 10:00 AM EST, April 4th, 2003

In the everlasting struggle to hang onto its business model in the face of changing technology, customers, and reality, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has taken a new tack: suing its customers. According to an article at C|Net, the RIAA is going after four college students that it claims are "operating a sophisticated network designed to enable widespread music thievery." From C|Net:

The lawsuits, filed against two students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and one each at Princeton University and Michigan Technological University, ratchet up the pressure that the Recording Industry Association of America recently has been putting on universities to block campus file-trading. The trade group still has not filed suit against average file-swappers who use more common services such as Kazaa, however.

"The people who run these (campus) networks know full well what they are doing--operating a sophisticated network designed to enable widespread music thievery," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement. "The lawsuits we've filed represent an appropriate step given the seriousness of the offense."

University students have been widely viewed as the core of the various file-swapping networks ever since the appearance of Napster on the digital scene in late 1999. Universities have seen half or more of their network bandwidth used by people uploading and downloading songs, software and movies over the past few years.

You can read the full article at C|Net News.

The Mac Observer Spin:

There are basically three types of people that download music: Those who use file-sharing networks to discover new music that they wouldn't otherwise have access to (the modern equivalent of tape traders), those who download a CD to make sure they like it before shelling out nearly US$20 for a disc, and those who are just there to get free music. Significant anecdotal evidence, as well as a study or two, have suggested that, one way or another, it is the first two groups that make up a sizeable percentage of those trading files.

One thing is for certain: The more the RIAA has tried to clamp down on file trading, the more music sales have fallen. A can of worms has been opened, and all of the lawsuits in the world aren't going to close it back up. If the RIAA wants any chance at survival in the long run, it needs to take a look at what its customers want. Even if it means meeting in the middle, doing so can only result in more sales and more profit. Since profit is apparently all that matters to the RIAA, it's almost surprising to see it take the stance that the organization is taking.

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