I have complained for years that the RIAA took the lazy, showboat route in dealing with piracy. Instead of focusing on the vast network of CD counterfeiters, they engaged in ineffective litigation against P2P loving college students.

Bad strategy.

As the RIAA lazily hired lawyers, the worldwide counterfeit business boomed. A 2004 industry report noted that 35% of All CDs sold worldwide were illegal copies.

The CD-R, it seems, doesn’t fall far from the burner.

Its  simply astounding that over a third of all CD sales were counterfeits. It reveals how misguided and strategically inept the RIAA strategy has been. Its a good fit: The RIAA is strategically incompetant; The industry they represent has the managerial competancy of lawn furniture.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is not about to repeat that foolish error. They have set up an ongoing sting operation with the city of Los Angeles to find and arrest the sellers of countefeit DVDs,  and confiscate their illegal wares.

The MPAA contributed $186,000 to help pay for a network of surveillance cameras
intended to catch street hawkers selling duped movies. The industry claims countefeiters cost them $3.5 billion annually in lost revenues.

Given the stature of movie making in  LA, its no surprise that the police there have been so cooperative. Reuters quotd Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton as saying: "That industry is the lifeblood of this city. If it goes, we go. It’s that clear."

10 cameras will be installed in the downtown fashion district, a big tourist area. Reuters stated that 4 cameras are already operational, with 6 more were scheduled to be installed. These digital cameras will then be monitored by cops at a local precinct, who can "dispatch undercover police to the location." Similar surveillance systems in city parks have dramatically reduced drug sales.

If the LAPD trials are successful, I expect to see the system expanded nationally.

Going after counterfeiter is a laborious, time consuming, grind ‘em out affair, lacking in dramatic headlines which feed the ego (Hilary Rosen, white courtesy phone!). Somehow, despite all the press they garnered, the RIAA never seemed to make this aspect of protecting their members a major priority — at least, judging by the headlines on the matter.   

In 2003, the BBC noted the error of this strategy:

"According to the RIAA, CD sales dropped by 10% in 2001 and a further 6.8% last year, largely [blaming] file sharing.

In America and the rest of the world, the biggest culprit in falling music sales is large-scale CD piracy by organised crime.

In just three years, sales of pirate CDs have more than doubled, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Every third CD sold is a pirate copy, says the federation. (emphasis added).

Counterfeiting is not new. However, a proactive approach to responding to it by a major recording industry is. Kudos to the MPAA for recognizing where the real problem lay.

Perhaps the RIAA can learn a thing or two from the movie industry. I suggest they match the MPAA’s donation to the LAPD, and shift their emphasis from making headlines about suing 11 year olds and deceased grandmothers to doing the heav ty lifting — the real work of stopping criminal couterfeiting.

But I’ll betcha they ain’t smart enought to figure that out.   

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UPDATE JUNE 1 2005 9:54 PM

Just to be clear — I am not commenting on the issue of of cameras in public spaces or whether this is a good idea from a societal standpoint. My point isn’t the usage of cameras — its the willingness by the MPAA to get creative in going after counterfeiters.

I am looking at it from a perspective of how the RIAA did their job of representing their industry members. While massive counterfeiting was going on (1 out of 3 CDs "sold" are counterfeits) the RIAA began a scorched Earth policy of litigating their own clients.

I think its telling that the MPAA might be learning from the RIAA mistakes.(We’ll see if they figured out that consumers want to be able to TiVo digital broadcasts and lose this silly flag issue of theirs).

Whether cameras in the downtown zone is the best enforcement method has yet to be determined; I find their attempt to go after the REAL PIRATES more encouraging than the brain dead actions of the RIAA . . .

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Source:
LA police use cameras to catch pirated DVD sellers
Reuters, Tue May 31, 2005 08:07 PM ET
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=industryNews&storyID=8658375

Stopping the pop-swappers
Mark Ward
BBC News Online, Monday, 4 August, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3117505.stm
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Category: Film, Music, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “MPAA does the heavy lifting RIAA refused to do”

  1. I, Hans. says:

    The managerial competancy of lawn furniture.

    The Big Picture: I have complained for years that the RIAA took the lazy, showboat route in dealing with piracy. Instead of focusing on the vast network of CD counterfeiters, they engaged in ineffective litigation against P2P loving college

  2. Karmakin says:

    I’ll say it again. The RIAA motives in this is not to stop piracy. It’s to stop competion. It’s to limit the marketing channels, because they believe if they do that, they can sell the same X number of albums, just that they have to pay less to the artists and for marketing. As well, because of pressure from record stores to limit that to limit the space needed for CDs. (A whole bunch of CD stores are changing to DVD stores)

    The MPAA doesn’t really have this problem. Mainly because the DVD market is big enough that there’s room for new independant voices. As well, if they directly attacked the independants, they’d get a huge backlash from critics/movie fans/talent. Pretty much everybody. So they don’t do it.

  3. pk says:

    So this seems to say there’s a clear ability for the MPAA to price discriminate. Why not set up an underground, grass roots sales oragnization that sells low quality DVDs in limited quantities via “independent sales reps” in low-income areas that create substantial “search costs” for other consumers?

  4. observer says:

    Karmakin is correct. Getting into the music business is relatively easy. Lots of people can afford to cut music and they can use various schemes for marketing such as giving away the recordings and charging for the conerts and/or tee shirts etc.

    So the record companies hope to stop the alternative sources of distribution even if it means crippling a technology useful in all kinds of areas. The fact that the Wapo and other advocates of “economic freedom” support them just says what the “ownership society” is about, it’s about those who own keeping what they have and getting more and those who don’t being prohibited from competing. It’s celebration of feudalism rather than capitalism.

    This battle is symbolic of a much larger struggle in society in which truly free markets and competition have no political party truly behind them. The libertarians are as distracting to this debate as the upper class left is to the issues of lower class people, they serve to distract and confuse and mantain the status quo.

    It’s probably going to be up to “moderates” of both parties to chose a “middle path” that is truly radical and innovative, that of opening up markets to the people. Those towards the edges of right and left fear this, they either want government or the powerful private interests to control the economy.

    That they aren’t necessarily conscious of their ideology (eg. I think Bush really thinks he favors capitalism though the only kind he and his administration know is between cronies including cronies in government) makes it more complex. They attack the American way while believing they defend it. Believers in the system may have to get as fierce as the Rush Limpbowels.

  5. observer says:

    Whoops. I should have said Wall Street Jouranl rather than the Washington post. But just watch, unless they get scared off lots of right wing publications will come down on the side of the record commpanies. They are willing to cripple the vast data processing industry for one a fraction of the size despite rising competition, they are willing to block individual’s control of their own information to try and protect a subset and otherwise engage in irrational behavior to defend existing wealth. This is exactly the kind of economic irrationalism that capitalism had to battle in the 19th century. It is no coincidence that the European nations with the more powerful old entrenched orders progressed more slowly. Once again we face the forces of reaction.

    Do not discount the drama of histotry even though it plays out under the mundane daily flows. There is an epic ideological battle playing and the players are not what they seem.

  6. More on MPAA-Funded Police Surveillance Cameras

    The Big Picture thinks that the MPAA helping the LA Police by paying for the installation of 10 surveillance cameras (MPAA Paying for Police Surveillance Cameras in LA) is a good idea (MPAA Does the Heavy Lifting RIAA Refused to…

  7. More on MPAA-Funded Police Surveillance Cameras

    The Big Picture thinks that the MPAA helping the LA Police by paying for the installation of 10 surveillance cameras (MPAA Paying for Police Surveillance Cameras in LA) is a good idea (MPAA Does the Heavy Lifting RIAA Refused to…

  8. More on MPAA-Funded Police Surveillance Cameras

    The Big Picture thinks that the MPAA helping the LA Police by paying for the installation of 10 surveillance cameras (MPAA Paying for Police Surveillance Cameras in LA) is a good idea (MPAA Does the Heavy Lifting RIAA Refused to…

  9. MahiX2 says:

    Interesting to note that even as one of the “P2P loving college students” I since the days of Napster have never illegally downloaded more songs than I currently do, and at $14.95/month for a Blockbuster freedom pass, there is no need to waste bandwidth on dloading lame copies of dvds…

    I don’t see a realistic end in sight.

  10. More on MPAA-Funded Police Surveillance Cameras

    The Big Picture thinks that the MPAA helping the LA Police by paying for the installation of 10 surveillance cameras (MPAA Paying for Police Surveillance Cameras in LA) is a good idea (MPAA Does the Heavy Lifting RIAA Refused to…

  11. bryant nagele says:

    hi