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<nettime> RIAA Sues Radio Stations for Giving Away Free Music
David Mandl on Tue, 8 Oct 2002 18:17:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> RIAA Sues Radio Stations for Giving Away Free Music


RIAA Sues Radio Stations for Giving Away Free Music

LOS ANGELES--The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1
billion lawsuit against the nation's radio stations Monday, accusing them
of freely distributing copyrighted music.

"It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can
simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse,
these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album
over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for
people to go out and buy the album?"

According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists' CDs
and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible
for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.

"These radio stations are extremely popular," Rosen said. "They flagrantly
string our songs together in 'uninterrupted music blocks' of up to 70
minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD's worth of product without a
break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise
between songs. It's bad enough that they're giving away our music for
free, but they're actually making a profit off this scheme."

RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the

"If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician's
ability to earn a living off his music," Frackman said. "[Metallica
drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last
royalty check was so small, and I didn't know what to say. How do you tell
a man who's devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to
just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to
support himself with his craft?"

For the record companies and the RIAA, one of the most disturbing aspects
of the radio-station broadcasts is that anyone with a receiver and an
analog tape recorder can record the music and play it back at will.

"I've heard reports that children as young as 8 tape radio broadcasts for
their own personal use," Rosen said. "They listen to a channel that has a
limited rotation of only the most popular songs--commonly called 'Top 40'
stations--then hit the 'record' button when they hear the opening strains
of the song they want. And how much are they paying for these songs? A big
fat zip."

Continued Rosen: "According to our research, there is one of these Top 40
stations in every major city in the country. This has to be stopped before
the music industry's entire economic infrastructure collapses."

Especially distressing to the RIAA are radio stations' "all-request
hours," when listeners call in to ask radio announcers, or "disc jockeys,"
to play a certain song.

"What's the point of putting out a new Ja Rule or Sum 41 album if people
can just call up and hear any song off the album that they want?" Frackman
asked. "In some instances, these stations actually have the nerve to let
the caller 'dedicate' his act of thievery to a friend or lover. Could you
imagine a bank letting somebody rob its vaults and then allowing the thief
to thank his girlfriend Tricia and the whole gang down at Bumpy's?"


Dave Mandl
dmandl {AT} panix.com
davem {AT} wfmu.org

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