Friday, June 06, 2008

RIAA spends $1.5 million on lobbying in first quarter of 2008

According to Steve Meyer at Disc & D.A.T., the RIAA spent $1.5 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2008 alone. By my calculations that's $6 million per year.

[Ed. note. Apparently, since they can't win fair fights in open court, they are taking the fight to the back rooms, where pesky defendant's lawyers aren't allowed. -R.B.]

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property


Alter_Fritz said...

did they took that money out of the account named "unfound artists" (*)?

Or did Mr Brainawol and Mr Sherman paid that money by taking a mortgage on the RIAA headquarter premisses?


Jadeic said...

It's not just the defence/defense lawyers they want to keep out but all the pesky voters too...

ars technica

Scott said...

In 1983, the IRS Form 990 salaries reported by Cary Sherman and Mitch Bainwol were $1,005,000 and $844,231 respectively, according to CNet. This is 8 to 10 times the median salary of attorneys working in the United States.

For attorneys, trade associations pay very well and the income is steady. In the case of the RIAA, it pays very, very well. Just check your scruples at the door.

If you are a member-supported trade association like the RIAA, you rely on two principles for survival:

1. You have to constantly sell your members on the proposition that they actually need you. Otherwise, they stop being members.

2. You have to make sure that your membership is always on the edge of a crisis that can only be addressed legislatively. To that end, lobbying should never lead to the resolution of issues. They should only assure that the association will be back to Congress year after year, proposing legislative action that is at best palliative, without going so far as to solve any problem.

To this standard formula, the RIAA has added the federally-assisted extortion racket that has been well documented in this blog. Without this added activity, would Cary and Mitch would be able to command their unusually large salaries? I don't think so. In fact, their deal is pretty sweet. They only have a small number of frightened member companies (with lots of cash) to milk for membership dues. And they're very cosy with both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill; Bainwol being on Republican Sen. Bill Frist's staff before joining the RIAA and being very connected with the Republican Party; and Sherman having connections with more liberal organizations.

Given this dynamic, how do you stop the RIAA from gratuitously wrecking the lives of thousands of people through their unconscionable lawsuit campaign? Certainly, fighting back is one way, and God bless this blog for being a powerful resource in this fight.

Another way -- attacking the weakest link -- might be the best way to expose the record companies themselves to the fruits of the RIAA's labor.

Remember the Jammie Thomas trial? At the last minute, Virgin Records removed themselves as a plaintiff. Why? We can only speculate, but I'm guessing that if they won, there is no way in hell that Virgin wanted to be identified as the lead plaintiff in the case. The Virgin brand is associated with more than just entertainment -- airlines, cell phones, and even a bank carry the Virgin name -- and they certainly wouldn't want to damage the brand just to win a portion of a verdict they would probably never collect a dime on.

So, go after the labels, and the artists they presumably represent. Hold them directly accountable for the damage they cause, not the RIAA. Write letters to their executives. Put up web sites, lead organized protests, form consumer groups. Demand they stop the lawsuits.

And if you need one label to focus on, I suggest EMI. They are the label in the most trouble, and by implication the label most receptive to change. Demand that they withdraw their support for the RIAA.

If the labels feel the heat directly from their consumers -- if they can't rely on the RIAA to draw fire for them anymore -- then the lawsuits will stop.

Scott said...

Arrgh. Correction, first line: "In 1983..." should read "In 2003..." Back in 1983, neither of these guys were working for the RIAA. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I wonder if this is presidential primary related or legislation related?

On one hand, it's getting to be just about time for someone in congress to introduce another technology-freezing "content protection" bill. There's no shortage of tech-clueless congressmen willing to legislate our country back to 8-tracks and vinyl.

On the other hand, it's reasonable that the RIAA & MPAA want to have a say in who'll be picked to chair the FCC under the new administration. Perhaps someone like Michael Powell who'll work to regulate home recording into nonexistence.

Jadeic said...

Good cogent reasoning there scott and it needed saying.