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BBC Criticizes RIAA's Attacks On Consumers

BBC Criticizes RIAA's Attacks On Consumers

by , 10:30 AM EDT, August 5th, 2003

The BBC has an article looking at the problems in the recording industry and the causes of those problems. The UK network says that there are far bigger issues than the casual online file trader that have led to a sales shortfall in the industry.

According to the article, the RIAA should instead be looking at the rampant CD duplication overseas, particularly in places such as China and Malaysia, where CDs are duplicated en masse and sold for a mere US$4 a piece. Naturally, that price point has attracted many customers. The article states such stunning statistics as the fact that the pirated CD market nets US$4.6 billion per year, and that 90% of CDs sold in China are pirated CDs. From the BBC:

The net has given rise to many novel ways of doing business but the methods of the Recording Industry Association of America has got every twisted e-commerce scheme beaten.

Last month, the association began suing hundreds of its customers. For the RIAA - which represents the major US recording companies - this makes perfect sense.


In America and the rest of the world the biggest culprit in falling music sales is large-scale CD piracy by organised crime.

In just three years, sales of pirate CDs have more than doubled, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Every third CD sold is a pirate copy, says the federation.


According to the RIAA, CD sales dropped by 10% in 2001 and a further 6.8% last year, largely because of file sharing.

But the figures tell a different story.

The article goes on to look at other reason for the decline in music sales, such as the lack of singles despite customer demand, and the budget of children being divided up between music and newer items such as DVDs, video games, and cell phones. Other points of interest include the fact that the labels have released a stunning 25% fewer new titles during the same years they claim a sales shortfall, and many have pointed to this as a big part of why sales have slumped.

You can read the full article at the BBC's Web site, and we recommend it as a very informative read for those interested in the recording industry and online distribution of music.

The Mac Observer Spin:

The BBC has taken quite a negative view of the RIAA's claim that music downloaders are the source of all the music industry's ills, and it's not without merit. The RIAA doesn't seem to understand that a drop in music sales and the popularity of P2P applications do not denote cause and effect. In fact, there is much anecdotal evidence that users of Napster and other P2P applications actually purchase more music than they did before the services existed.

As the BBC points out, not only are there bigger fish in the ocean, but that the drop in music sales may be due people not having any more LPs to replace like they did in the 80s and 90s. It may even just be a random fluctuation, in which case the RIAA has nothing to worry about.

None of this is to say that we condone piracy, because we strongly condemn it, especially those with an entitlement attitude about stealing. At the same time, however, we condemn the industry's blatant grab for control over digital content and our computers while relying on what increasingly looks like a series of red herrings as justification.

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