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"We hope this discourages other companies from similar activity."
——RIAA EVP Frank Creighton
RIAA KEEPING BUSY ENFORCING, EXPLAINING
Two Busts and a Long Letter to Congress the Latest Moves by Trade Org
A piracy watchdog’s work is never done.

The RIAA, flexing its deep-pocketed muscle in an effort to make examples of known dealers in pirated music and dissuade others from becoming pirates announced yesterday that it has struck deals with two illegal copying operations—one online, one offline—to accept out-of-court settlements for infringement and promises to play nice in the future.

The first bust involves Tempe, Arizona-based Integrated Information Systems, Inc., which the RIAA claims was running a server on its internal network dedicated to allowing employees to copy and swap thousands of songs in MP3 format by the likes of the Police, Sarah McLachlan, Ricky Martin, Aerosmith and others. IIS has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million rather than go to court.

The RIAA got wise to IIS’s shenanigans via an anonymous e-mail tip. Intimating that corporations risk legal exposure by allowing their employees to engage in illicit copying, RIAA EVP and Director of Anti-Priacy Frank Creighton in a statement, “We hope this discourages other companies from similar activity and serves to remind the public of their important role in helping us to combat music piracy.”

The RIAA statement also makes mention of a curious fact: “One of the products offered by IIS, ironically, included software that provided secure distribution of copyrighted digital material,” the statement says. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if copy-protection-crazy RIAA member companies somehow ended up doing business with IIS after extracting a million dollars and giving them a public slap on the wrist?

The second bus involves the U.S. division international CD replication concern DOCdata. After an investigation, the RIAA determined that DOCdata USA, which has plants in New England and southern California, had pressed dozens of illegal CDs, amounting to thousands of infringements on RIAA member copyrights. DOCdata has agreed to pay the RIAA $3.2 million rather than take the matter to court.

Taking his turn to play the music-biz heavy, RIAA Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs Matt Oppenheim said, “DOCdata’s forthright willingness to examine its own practices and share the information with the RIAA significantly helped us settle this case. But for that effort, any settlement or judgment would have been much larger.”

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill this week, RIAA chief Hilary Rosen delivered a lengthy written response the House Judiciary Committee’s request for input on digital music issues. The 22-page letter reiterates the RIAA’s belief that online piracy and CD burning is the biggest problem facing the music business as we know it today and that in lieu of a working standard for securing digital music files, copy-protecting CDs is a must.

Apparently seeking to defuse criticism that record companies are still moving sluggishly online, Rosen states that “real progress” is being made in the online realm, writing at one point, “It seems that hardly a week goes by that we do not hear the announcement of another new licensing deal.” Elsewhere, the letter breaks down the RIAA’s views on the recent Copyright Office ruling on the DMCA, the proposed Music Online Competition Act (MOCA) and the many issues contained therein. Rosen concludes that, until piracy is effectively dealt with, the rest of the discussion is moot, but notes the following:

“In the nascent and dynamic digital music marketplace that exists today, it would be a mistake to enact legislation regulating the marketplace or making it difficult to respond to future consumer demands or other marketplace conditions. Even if such legislation was responsive to today’s marketplace conditions or perceived problems, it likely would poorly suit tomorrow’s marketplace conditions and skew the future of this dynamic marketplace.”

We’re not sure what that all means, but she shore do write purdy.

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