Costly failure of RIAA legal strategy made public

August 2010


The Recording Industry Association of America’s 2008 finances have been published with the revelation that the major labels trade body paid out over $17 million to the three legal firms who spearheaded the organisation’s legal actions against file sharing fans. In return, they recovered $391,000 in damages. On his Recording Industry vs The People blog, Ray Beckerman analysed the same figures for 2006 and 2007 and claims that the trade body spent a total of $64,000,000 on legal and investigation firms involved in their “sue-the-fans” campaign during those three years, and these cases brought in a total of $1,361,000 in damages. The RIAA eventually dropped the strategy of suing individual fan after years of costly failures, bad publicity and widespread criticism of high profile cases against defendants such as Joel Tenenbaum and Jammie Thomas-Rasset. In the same year, the RIAA’s chief executive Mitch Bainwol was paid just over $2 million in salary ($1.9 million) and benefits ($123,000). President Cary Sherman was paid $1.33 million, Neil Turkewitz (EVP, International) was paid $696,000, Mitch Glazier (EVP, Government & Industry Relations), earned $566,000 and
Steven Marks (EVP & General Counsel) received $562,000.
For an interesting take on the whole area of internet piracy and potential commercial solutions, U2’s long time managerPaul McGuinness has written an article “Free?” in the August 2010 issue of British GQ Magazine (at p142). See also Ben Challis’s musings reproduced and commented on here

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