The RIAA Wants Your Lunch Money

September 26th, 2003

I can't stand bullies.Thanks to Joe Hall for pointing out the latest New Yorker cover illustration.

It spotlights the dying megacorporate music cartel’s absurd policy of bullying hundreds of its youngest and most important customers through lawsuits.

8 Responses to “The RIAA Wants Your Lunch Money”

  1. comment number 1 by: flashmobber-IT

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  2. comment number 2 by: William Gillette

    I’m telling you the RIAA is making a huge mistake. I am an 18yr old senior in high school with little or no money. I love music. It is my passion in life…not really but you get what i’m saying… I have over 200 and something odd cds. When I started buying cds in the early 90’s when they were newer and CHEAPER i never bootlegged. I had like 50 cds and 1 burned cd. Now i have over a 120 burned cds and a few more “commercial” cds. The technology came out in 1982 and cost is down to a dollar per cd, okay 5 bucks adding in all other costs to make the cd. Now, how is it I pay 18 bucks for a cd that is lucky to have 5 good songs and average over 45-50 minutes per cd? How is it back in 97-98 I paid 12 bucks for a cd and now I pay 17-20? The technology has gotten nothing but older. The RIAA is just alienating it’s main consumers. I can tell you that if cd prices drop they would have more revenue in cd sales and less downloading. Would the downloading stop? NO, but they aren’t loosing as much money as they think they are. If the prices are dropped i’m more inclined to buy the cd. And half the cds i burnt I would not have bought anyway. But since prices are going nothing but up and they are being assholes to there consumers…screw them! Download People! Now, i love free downloads, but i would however pay a small fee for the privilege as long as the RIAA brought cd prices to a resonable level, say 10-13 per cd. Until that happens, which will be a cold day in hell, unless someone hits the pompus money grubbing big businessmen over the head and gets them to realize all they are doing is making people Not buy cds and alienating them, people are going to download more and more at a steadily increased pace. Oh, one other thing, as for there lawsuits…bring it! I look at it this way, they want to play hardball so can we. Just download. They can’t catch all of us!

  3. comment number 3 by: Coolfer


    The RIAA is not making a mistake. Its policies are going to help the industry and help quickly bring to the public legitimate download sites. It’s policies have and will continue to decrease the amount of P2P trafic. It quickly dropped 40% after the first round of lawsuits. Expect similar good results after this next round. And the lawsuits wouldn’t be necessary if people were not breaking the law. That’s right, folks. Downloading (and uploading) copyrighted material is against the law. Whether or not you agree is beside the point. It doesn’t matter if you think record labels are greedy. Again, beside the point. Downloading is against the law. Period.

    The average price of a CD is about $13. Few people pay the full price, and if you are paying $18 you are a sucker. Buy it on sale. But it at Amazon. But it from the used bin. And if you’re buying CDs that only have five good songs, you’re buying the wrong CDs. I can think of 50 albums every month that are good from front to back. Get out there and find legitimate music. You’ll get your money’s worth even if you’re paying $25 for that CD.

    More about the price of a CD…do a little more research, or take a business class whenever you get out of high school. You’ll find that manufacturing costs are not largest expense in creating a CD. Music is a business, and businesses have many expenses. Marketing ain’t cheap. Recording the songs isn’t cheap. Salaries and benefits, those certainly add up. William, did you ever wonder how much it costs to bottle a can of Pepsi? People pay up to $1.50 for a bottle of Pepsi, but the raw materials cost less than a dime. There are other expenses as well. And if you think record labels are greedy, keep in mind that Pepsi makes more profits than any any record label. Way more.

    And Billy, prices have NOT been going up. They’ve been dropping. Pay attention to the suggested list prices and you’ll see dozens, probably hundreds, of new releases that are way, way under $17.98. Figure in the sale price that you’d pay at most regional and national chains, as well as many indie record stores, and you’ve got a pretty decent price.

    Anybody who claims CDs cost too much first need to admit the main reason behind that perception: free downloads and cheap burns. Have those free downloads and cheap burns been legal? For the most part, no they haven’t. So let’s recap: You think CDs are too expensive because you’ve been illegally obtaining free music for the past few years.

    Bring on the lawsuits, William Gillette? Let me know when you get sued. I’d like to post your story, and your claim of being able to play hardball, on my blog.


  4. comment number 4 by: Sean


    I’m not sure whether you really believe the lies and the absurd leaps of logic that you expressed above, but I certainly hope the RIAA is paying you well for posting such things. But I suggest that you make connections in other industries, because I doubt the RIAA will be able to pay you much longer.


    I’ll address just a couple of Coolfer’s most absurd statements here:

    -RE: CD “prices have NOT been going up. They’ve been dropping.” That’s just not true. Because most readers know from personal experience that CD prices are still increasing, I won’t bother digging up the figures. Coolfer, if you want to make such a counterintuitive claim without coming across as a moron here, you’ll need to back up that claim with evidence.

    -RE: “Marketing ain’t cheap. … Salaries and benefits, those certainly add up.” Exactly. And fans don’t need to pay the gigantic salaries and benefits of rich lawyers and marketing V.P.’s and countless other pointless corporate executives. They don’t want to and there’s no reason for them to. Digital networks allows us to cut out most of the leeches and dead weight that arose between artist and audience during Big Music’s brief reign. Look up the word “disintermediation.” Who wants to pay smarmy old white men to market our music? We’re doing that ourselves, thanks.

    -RE: The claim that the RIAA’s policies have reduced “P2P traffic” 40 percent and will continue to reduce P2P traffic — Coolfer made the key mistake of equating traffic on -all- P2P networks with traffic on those network the RIAA chooses to consider in making its PR claims. Apparently Coolfer is not aware of the newer networks which RIAA doesn’t measure, encluding encrypted file-sharing networks such as those created via the open-source WASTE software. WASTE which allows people to share music behind P2P encryption curtains so that RIAA and service providers don’t even know that there’s anything to measure, much less how to measure it. Coolfer made the further mistake of assuming that, even on the open, outdated networks that the RIAA measures, the 40 percent of people who stopped participating immediately after the lawsuits were announced won’t come back to those networks after all the hype dies down.

    -RE: “Downloading (and uploading) copyrighted material is against the law. Whether or not you agree is beside the point.” That’s asinine. Whether or not we agree -is- the point. Bad laws need to be fought and changed. Bad laws permitted and even compelled many of the most disgusting crimes in history — the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi holocaust, for instance. Copyright law in the United States was created to spur innovation, to promote the advance of knowledge and the advance of culture. The Big Music industry used its money in Congress and in the courts to warp copyright law almost beyond recognition.. Now our implementation of copyright law protects big corporate profits at the expense of the artists and the audiences; it stifles innovation and retards the advance of knowledge and the advance of culture.

    Keep fighting, William. You can help right these wrongs.


  5. comment number 5 by: VOR

    Sean makes some very good points – Coolfer’s post is full of BS. CD prices have been increasing. Maybe Coolfer only buys out of the bargain bin !

    I often use the P2P networks to listen to an album before I buy it. If it has only a few good songs – I don’t buy it. Remember what Courtney Love said about the original Napster : Only artists who make shitty albums need to worry ! Actually with that in mind, I am open to the concept of buying songs online seperately ( but I’ll wait for the cost to decrease ) If Coolfer actually believes that CDs are priced as they are to pay artists, he has a lot to learn. Artists and the other support staff who create albums get screwed – the real winners are the record companies !

    I believe the record companies really stepped in it big time with these lawsuits –

    Gotta go – need to follow Sean’s link to the “WASTE” software …


  6. comment number 6 by: Mike G

    Very funny – take a look…

  7. comment number 7 by: Chazz McDeal


    Now, this issue is one that I have a hard time with. I think one important thing to understand is that downloading music IS stealing. That being said I think the lawsuits the RIAA are issuing are evidence of some of the worst business and marketing policy of recent memory. Now, I’m not saying it’s so wrong to download music – it’s just stealing, in the strictest sense of the word. I mean, I do it quite often – although not as much now as I can’t seem to find any music I listen to, (Anyone know any good file share software for Mac?) but I know it’s stealing – but, unlike what most republicans will tell you, there are different types of stealing. I don’t lose sleep at night because I took a incalculable amount of money away from a HUGE industry that pays radio stations to not play independent and local music. However, I would feel terrible if I stole a song from some naive garage band who made nothing last year. If I was a laptop guy making electronic music on a old computer and it was being downloaded furiously, I think I would be upset – and I think I would have a right to be. It is VERY important to note the difference in theft, I think.

    Another important thing to understand is that by stealing music from big record companies and reducing sales, we have the ability to indirectly (or directly?) change the musical landscape. If record companies can no longer sell their current derivative, shitty products then they will either fall apart and make room for independent labels and new ideas, or be forced to reinvent their products. Either way it’s all good for the thinking listener.

    This issue is, for the most part, null and void for me as I don’t listen to very much music on big labels. Manstream music has become an unabashed product – even more so 20, 30 years ago. It’s good for kitsch at best. I think the biggest problem isn’t that the RIAA is being a jerk – it’s that so many kids interested in this issue want to listen to the same canned rebellious bullshit the RIAA has to offer. Don’t even LISTEN to their music! It goes through the calloused hand of so many old suits anyhow.

    The bottom line is that you can always download Negativland.

    go here —>

  8. comment number 8 by: RAGB Hendricks

    If anyone read the issue of Wired about the lost cause of the RIAA? The artists only get about 30% of pay and producer, 20%. Guess who gets the rest? You got it. The big boss bullies. The ones holding a gun to your head metaphorically for downloading something that should be a free art.

    Like the chinese folk tale of the great judge Ooka who dealt with the case of the sacred smell. The man was coming to the merchant’s shop each day, buying rice and just eating it right in his store.

    The judge asked how he could settle with just the rice. The poor old man said, “The smell of your fish grilling in the back makes the food taste all the better.

    Outraged, the merchant sued the poor old man and sure enough they appeared in court.

    Judge Ooka’s resolution was the sound of the old man’s money was pay for the smell of the merchant’s foods.