Current Methods of Record Label Companies

1. Litigation against Individuals and File-sharing Sites

There are several governmental agencies that are able to deal with the digital pirates in the U.S. However, these agencies are somewhat passive because they will not take action unless the evidences are conclusive. Therefore, recording companies almost have to against the online pirates by themselves. They usually hire anti-piracy firms such as Web Sheriff to investigate suspicious file-sharing sites. Based on the results, music companies can decide to take further steps to sue the individuals, the sites’ owners, or the companies that stand behind those sites. It is noteworthy that the ISPs are standing out of the fight.

The RIAA can also act as representative of collective music companies to against the music pirates. Like other governmental agencies, if there are proofs of copyright infringement, they can take the case into the court and claim their rightful ownership. The violated sites then will be forced to shut down. These cases usually result in big sum of compensation for copyright losses. In fact, the RIAA once pursued a five-year in search of rightful music legality in 2004. They struck the Internet users who were proved to download music song tracks illegally. The campaign costs this organization over $64 million. Meanwhile, RIAA recoups only $1.4 million in compensation (Masnick, 2009). It is entirely possible that the law-suits reduced the growth of file-sharing. Another certain thing is that there are a big public relation campaign following these series of civil law-suits. However, it was an uneconomical move due to the huge costs that RIAA had to sustain. Very few companies can do business by suing people except for law firms.

Looking at another aspect, many websites facilitating online pirating activities have their servers set up in different countries other than the U.S. Hence, the music companies cannot pursue legal actions alleging copyright infringement with authorities in these countries. In cases that the violators reside in the U.S., many people still believe the way that recording companies are against music piracy are somewhat unethical. The RIAA often asks individuals for thousands of dollars in compensation in cases such as the case against a Minnesota woman for 1.5 million, and the case against a Massachusetts man for 675,000 (Anderson, 2011). Many of these violators are high school students, suburban housewives. They do not really aware of the magnitude of music piracy problem when they download just a song online. To popular websites such as The Pirate Bay, collective music companies usually ask for hundred millions of dollars in compensation (The Pirate Bay, 2008).

Another example proving the ineffectiveness of litigation is that litigations can only restrict intentional violators. It cannot completely stop the pirates from their sharing activities. Individuals tend to hide below the threat level rather than to quit file-sharing activities. This means if the RIAA considers over 1000 music files shared violating the rule and being sufficient for them to pursue a litigation, file-swappers will restrict their activities around 800 to 1000 files shared (Bhattacharjee, Gopal, Lertwachara, & Marsden, 2006). Never the less, the availability of music files on peer-to-peer networks is still significant. This is a bigger issue that the music industry should worry about.

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