RIAA Redux

Might we look forward to a day when the RIAA is nothing more than four dead letters?  Could it be?  But who would attend the funeral, other than Lars Ulrich?

Rumors are beginning to swirl that EMI, one of the Big Four record labels, is considering withdrawing its support from the RIAA and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the music industry trade association in Great Britain.

Variety has reported that EMI is in talks with the other major record labels over the potential of restructuring the trade groups.  In December, EMI sent a letter to the IFPI that could well become the first step toward its withdrawal from the organization.  There’s also been some talk of merging the two groups into one.

In any event, EMI isn’t happy with the trade groups.  Threatening the RIAA with the prospect of withdrawing from the group — and even taking other labels with it — just might be enough to force its hand and change its policies.  After all, what would the RIAA be if the big four — with their myriad subsidiary labels — dropped it?  It would be an association in search of an industry to represent.

Speculation and rumors for now, to be sure, but it’s got to be an encouraging sign for the legions of folks out there who’ve been taking shots at the RIAA for the last several years.

The RIAA has taken a firm stand against digital piracy.  On its Web site there is no shortage of saber-rattling rhetoric about prosecution and lawsuits and the moral outrage of stealing from copyright-holders.

The validity of these claims really isn’t important anymore.  Suing your fans by the thousands isn’t good for business, certainly not when your most visible success came in the form of a $222,000 damages award won from a single mother for downloading 24 songs from the Internet.

Throwing mud at the RIAA is a favorite pastime in blogdom, so no need to pile on anymore.  We can leave it at this: The legal strategy is obviously failing.  CD sales are plummeting, major artists are defecting from their labels in droves, and DRM-free digital music is going to become the industry standard — just how effectively has the RIAA been representing its industry?  Sounds like EMI already has an answer.

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