Convicted filesharing grad student has penalty reduced by 90 percent

Anti-RIAAYou may remember the story of a grad student last summer who, after a bout with the RIAA, was served a $670,000 fine for illegally downloading 30 songs. A judge ruled this past week to reduce that penalty by 90 percent, all the way down to $67,000. Unfortunately, the student says, that fine is just as unpayable as the first.

The judge did say the new fine was still “severe, even harsh,” to which the RIAA gave its usual “profound economic and artistic harm” defense. Regardless of where you stand on the moral points of the story, I think it’s fair to say that making a spectacle of one individual to scare off the masses isn’t the best use of our judicial system. Piracy is still a huge deal, but when I see the lifestyle most musicians lead, I’m less inclined to give a shit when they get ripped off a couple times. We’ve heard time and time again that tours are where artists can really make some money.

For the RIAA, here’s a thought: find a new way to monetize your options. There are, I dunno, a billion ways you can make cash that won’t piss off the people who love the music you supposedly protect. Find a way to work the free market. Create a convenient and comprehensive streaming service. Do something, anything but cry foul when the internet finds a way to distribute media for free. It will happen for the rest of your lives. Get around it.


Digital content providers team up to fight piracy

Picture 4Amazon, Apple, Myspace, Spotify, and a couple other digital content providers have grouped up to form Music Matters, an organization aimed at turning pirates into paying customers. I hate to criticize this movement because I definitely think it’s important to support the artists you love, but it’s just so hard to take the companies that hawk those digital wares too seriously. If Jack White were imploring me to please buy his albums I would be much more inclined to do it (except that Deadweather album, ugh).

The best part of the organization is a stamp that participating sites can post to remind customers that the site will pay the artists for the music you purchase. Oh wait, they’re required by law to pay artists whose music the sites have sold.

The site tries to grab your indie nerve with that pencil script seen on the cover of every Michael Cera movie. You can watch custom videos from a few bands as well. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure why the site exists.

Music Matters