A 12-year-old girl living in New York City was recently faced with a lawsuit for $2000 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which views internet file sharing as a serious threat to it’s continued existence.
For every song Brianna LaHara downloaded, the RIAA charged her $2.
All in all, her downloading of the theme song to “Family Matters” and assorted hip-hop songs has earned the honor student at St. Gregory the Great School a lawsuit.
What did the RIAA have to say about this? In a statement, RIAA chairman Cary Sherman said, “Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation, but when your product is being stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action.”
It is good to know that the appropriate action to having shared TV theme songs from your computer is $2000.
Especially when the girl involved is in a single parent household already residing in low-income housing.
Somehow, the RIAA thinks that robbing $2000 from a 12-year-old honor student is the correct punishment for having used Kazaa a few times.
Meanwhile, the recording industry wonders why its sales are dropping and why the average person on the street has nothing but contempt for them.
It could be because suing a 12-year-old girl is par for the course from a cartel of labels that already charges $17 for the latest Creed or Puff Daddy CD and sees nothing wrong with music radio becoming even less diverse.
I won’t say a word about the cynicism of record executives suing 12-year-olds for using Kazaa.
But RIAA members are desperate to put a good face on it all, and prove to the public that they’re not just a bunch of money-grubbing ogres.
Atlantic Records recently announced its price for a new CD would soon drop to $12.99, and several other major labels recently followed suit.
The iTunes network for Macintosh has been gaining in popularity.
Mac users can now download songs from a catalogue of millions, legally, for 99 cents a pop.
Although Windows users have no similar legal platform, it’s a start at least.
For years and years, major labels have behaved like an ostrich putting its head in the sand to ignore online music, and this has failed them.
The music industry was able to survive radio and the rise of audio cassettes.
Friends dubbing other friends’ albums onto cassettes did not significantly hurt the music industry, and neither will online file sharing on services such as Kazaa.
When file sharing first gained popularity back in the heyday of Napster, major labels first avoided the issue altogether and then fought it tooth and nail.
Instead of working to capitalize on a new market for people interested in music, the RIAA decided it would instead work on ruining the lives of individual college students and 12-year-olds to dissuade the masses from downloading the new Nelly song.
And they wonder why record sales are dropping.
Neal Ungerleader can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.