Opinion

The RIAA would rather sue you than look at you

Thank goodness for the Recording Industry Association of America! Through their very unselfish campaign against file sharing, they are tracking down the biggest threats to artists everywhere, like the 66-year-old woman from Boston who the RIAA recently sued for illegally downloading and trading over two thousand songs through Kazaa. She must be an insanely crafty criminal for she managed to do all this in spite of the fact her sole computer is a Macintosh, which does not support Kazaa.

Maybe she didn’t steal any songs at all, as the RIAA was later forced to admit when faced with the overwhelming evidence presented by her lawyer. As the RIAA tries to take all those guilty of file sharing to court, it is finding that many people aren’t as sympathetic to the plight of those who are getting robbed of royalties from the illegal distribution of their songs over the internet. The RIAA’s strategy for prosecuting those guilty of file sharing is to violate everyone else’s privacy. The easiest way to find out who is sharing files is to ask Internet service providers, such as SBC, to monitor their customers’ activities while online and then report to the RIAA if anyone is downloading something they should not be. Many ISPs still remember this crazy concept called privacy that we all seem to enjoy so much, but this number is getting smaller each day as more succumb to subpoenas brought by the RIAA. Moreover, the very nature of the software used for file sharing has the potentiality to allow the particularly computer savvy to share music undetected by making it appear to third parties that someone else is sharing the music. The result is that the RIAA can only really go after those who either download insignificant amounts of music or don’t share at all.

What I find the most disturbing is that the RIAA has been allowed to get this far. There are significant disadvantages to file sharing, such as long download times and poor quality recordings, which the recording industry could capitalize on to make services that can make file sharing into a new source of income instead of crime. As opposed to acknowledging that people aren’t willing to spend upwards of $17 on a CD anymore, the RIAA is simply trying to sue its problems away.

Elaine Ayo can be contacted at eayo@umsis.miami.edu.

October 17, 2003

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.