FindLaw: 56% of Americans Oppose RIAA Lawsuits

A survey by legal website FindLaw has found that 56% of those polled were opposed to the legal actions currently being undertaken by the music industry. With the Recording Industry Association of America stepping up its action and the new Pirate Act coming into effect, then this dissatisfaction can only increase.

3,400 people have been sued since last September – more than 600 of those cases have been settled for an average of US$3000 (€2,473) each, netting the RIAA at least US$1.8 million (€1.48 million). No case has gone to court, no artists, ostensibly the victims of file trading, have received any of this money. Recent figures suggest that CD sales are up 10% on last year, legal music download sites are doing such good business that the market is rapidly becoming crowded.

FindLaw surveyed 1000 participants and found that 56% were against the lawsuits, 37% supported the action, and 7% had no opinion. Opposition is higher amongst younger people, with nearly two thirds of those between 18 and 34 objecting.

Quoted on the FindLaw site, Professor Sharon Sandeen,intellectual property law tutor at the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota said: “Although the RIAA’s lawsuits are unsettling to many, they are based upon sound law because it is a clear violation of copyright law to make a verbatim copy of a protected sound recording,” says “The underlying public policy at work is the notion that without copyright laws, musical artists would be less inclined to create music and, as a result, there would be fewer sound recordings. So the individuals who complain about the lawsuits should ask themselves: ‘Would I rather live in a world with freely distributed but less music, or pay for the music I enjoy so that there will be more of it?'”
“I suspect that many people, when educated about the purpose of copyright law, support the law,” Sandeen continued. “Public opposition to the lawsuits may be due, in part, to what some people consider hard-handed tactics by the RIAA.”

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?