Doing Their Dirty Work

25 03 2007

By Derek Beres

To further prove their interests are completely with major record labels (as well as their own company), and not the artists they are purporting to protect the interests of, the RIAA made news once again – and this time, much to their chagrin. The University of Wisconsin has refused to cooperate with them in, basically, acting as their policing unit against their own students. Essentially, they wanted the university to distribute settlement letters, which allows students to settle out of court for a large discount against what they would pay if they had to go to court.

The faultiness of the logic here, if you can call it that, is that this is implying the student is even guilty, or, exactly, what the student is guilty of. These letters would serve the RIAA well – their very premise allows them the leverage of being a toll collector without the messiness of litigation and the like. Hence, you have a system akin to the pharmaceutical industry: take free now, pay later, when the bill comes in, probably for a lot more than you expected. Thing is, the psychology is skewed – it implies the student was guilty before even being heard. And this is exactly what the RIAA wants.

If the company can psychologically belittle internet users into believing anytime they hit “download” they may be breaking a law, they’ve accomplished their mission: to make a lot of money, for their clients, and themselves. (I don’t need to bring up where the people making the music stand in this process. They’re sitting or, more importantly, making music.) I must applaud consumerist.com readers for voting the RIAA the worst company in America this year, however. There’s little humor in the fact that the few people that respect their constant and often outlandish policing tactics are them themselves, and the few label execs they work for. Most of us are too busy trying to enjoy music.

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