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Old 23-05-13, 20:36   #1
 
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Cool RIAA "Losing Piracy Battle"=Fires Staff

22 May 2013




A few times each year the RIAA looks back on proceeding months and tries to assess whether its anti-piracy actions are bearing fruit.
In more recent times the public face of these assessments have included appraisals of companies that the recording industry feels should be helping to solve the problem. Time and again the main focus has fallen on Google, along with a recurring report card stating “can do better”. While softer in tone, today’s announcement is not much different.

Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president of anti-piracy, begins with a short summary of recent history. A year ago the RIAA stepped up its efforts to remove links to infringing content indexed by search engines. They have done so in increasing numbers and this week reached a magic number – 20 million URL takedowns on Google alone. A similar number have been sent to underlying sites too, making a total just shy of 40 million URLs. It’s a losing battle.

“Every day produces more results and there is no end in sight. We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading,” Buckles complains.

According to the RIAA executive the problem is compounded by what he describes as a “controversial interpretation” by search engines who insist that DMCA takedown notices are directed at specific links of infringing content. This, Buckles says, leads to a situation where content is simply reposted by sites as quickly as it’s removed.

The RIAA anti-piracy boss says that while he accepts that search engines have no way of knowing whether links are infringing or not the first or second time around, after receiving “a thousand notices for the same song on the same site” they should have received the message loud and clear.

“Isn’t it simply logical and fair at some point to conclude that such links are infringing without requiring content owners to keep expending time and resources to have the link taken down?” he questions.
Of course, this suggestion – that search engines should begin to act pro-actively after a point – passes the buck and potential blame onto the shoulders of third parties that also have better things to do.





One of those third parties, Google, received a more considered appraisal today. The RIAA has publicly chastised and patronized the search engine on a number of previous occasions, but today the music group applauded the search engine for its efforts so far. Nevertheless, in common with all previous appraisals, the RIAA concludes that Google must still do better.

But the real problem, the RIAA explains, lies with the system. Far too much time is being spent taking down illicit content which is detracting from music making. The blame for that can be laid squarely at the door of the DMCA.

“As the Congressional review of the DMCA gets underway, there should be a strong focus on what notice and takedown was supposed to accomplish. The DMCA was intended to define the way forward for technology firms and content creators alike, but some aspects of it no longer work,” says Buckles.
“How could we expect it to? It was passed before Google even existed, or the iPod, or peer-to-peer file-sharing or slick websites offering free mp3 downloads. It was after the DMCA that Napster, and Grokster and Limewire and Grooveshark and Megaupload, to name just a few, came on the scene. In particular, it’s time to rethink the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA.”

In parallel the RIAA feels that its anti-piracy burden should be lightened by other Internet companies helping out the recording industry. ISPs, payment processors and advertisers all have a part to play and voluntary initiatives already in place are a sign of things moving in the right direction. However, if real progress is to be made, the group says, those voluntary agreements must have teeth.

“We’ve seen what good can happen when there is cooperation among Internet players to achieve the mutually beneficial goal of preventing copyright theft while encouraging innovation. We hope others will follow suit. Otherwise, the next 20 million takedowns will be no more effective than the first and present a sad reality for the millions of content creators that help drive American culture,” Buckles concludes.

At the start of the recording industry’s Google takedown blitz many people predicted that the problem would not be solved by taking down search engine results; 20 million notices later they have been proven right. Another 20 million won’t solve the problem either. It can only be solved by innovation. Perhaps spending more time on that is the solution.


RELATED:


RIAA Makes Drastic Employee Cuts as Revenue Plummets

22 May 2013

The RIAA has submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012. The figures follow the trend we spotted last year and show a massive decline in revenue for the music group. In just two years overall revenue has reduced from to $34.8 to $24.8 million.
For decades the RIAA has been the anti-piracy bastion of the music industry, but the new numbers show that the group’s financial power is weakening.
The drop in income can be solely attributed to lower membership dues from the major music labels. Over the past two years label contributions have dropped to $23.6 million, and over a three-year period the labels cut back a total of $30 million, which is more than the RIAA’s total income today.

The cutbacks are not immediately apparent from the salaries paid to the top executives.
RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman, for example, earned $1.46 million compared to $1.37 million the year before. Senior Executive Vice President Mitch Glazier also saw a modest rise in income from $618,946 to $642,591.

A lot of the revenue decline has translated into employee cuts. Over a two year period the number of RIAA employees has been slashed almost in half from 107 to just 60.


RIAA’s Spacious Washington Office





The reduction in legal costs is even more significant, going from to $6.4 million to $1.2 million in two years.


In part, this reduction was accomplished by no longer targeting individual file-sharers in copyright infringement lawsuits, which is a losing exercise for the group.

Looking through other income we see that the RIAA received $196,378 in “anti-piracy restitution,” coming from the damages awarded in lawsuits against Limewire and such.
Finally, the tax filing also reveals that the RIAA paid $250,000 to the Center of Copyright Information for the “six strikes” scheme. Together with the MPAA the RIAA coughs up half of the CCI budget, but since the fiscal year ended March 2012 it’s probably not the full year payment.
Overall the filing appears to suggest that the major labels believe that the RIAA can operate with fewer funds. This is a trend that has been going on for a few years and it will be interesting to see how long it continues.
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Old 23-05-13, 20:53   #2
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