The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade group. The RIAA is a group that certifies sales awards in the industry, and works to protect intellectual property and the First Amendment rights of artists(1). Certain areas that they focus on are piracy online and on the streets, freedom of speech, licensing, and ISRC codes(2). Despite the fact that they protect legal rights in the industry, the RIAA have been known to cause controversy on how they go about it.
Since the late 90’s when it sued Napster for copyright infringement, the RIAA has also been suing individuals for illegal peer-to-peer file sharing. While most cases were settled for a few thousand dollars, some have had to pay an extreme amount more. However, the RIAA has said that suing an individual is the last resort, and in most instances any money gained from these individuals gets reinvested into the group’s antipiracy program. Consumers have argued with how the RIAA has handled things, and artists have started to ask questions.
Artists are considering suing the RIAA because they have not been given any shares of the money rewarded to the RIAA from the settlements with companies like Napster, KaZaA, and Bolt. The artists feel that their copyrights were infringed, and therefore should be compensated. While artists try to find a way to split the money between themselves and the RIAA, the RIAA has said that there is little money to be split due to the legal fees that they have incurred over the past seven years.
by Sarah Demarco