If you are an internet music listener, the name Ray Beckerman will not be an unknown one. Ray has become the one shining star in the dark world that the music industry would prefer we live in. The Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) supposedly is a loose industry group that assists the music giants to co-exist. In practice they have become the most hated organization in recent history. Their mandate being to seek out and destroy anyone that downloads illegal copies of music. To date they have threatened more than 20,000 people with law suits. What is truly insidious, is the tactic of ‘pay us $3,000 and promise not to do it again, or else we will take you to court, and go for megabucks’ letters that they send out to people who they deem as music pirates. They have targeted dead people, young kids, the chronically ill, and the chronically computer inept. It matters not to the RIAA, or more importantly the lawyers paid by the RIAA.

Ray has been at the forefront of defending people from the onslaught of the RIAA. He also runs the very informative website Recording Industry Vs The People.

Ray was gracious enough to spend some time talking with me. He is the master of not saying much, yet saying a huge amount.

Ray, I did a Google search on you, and there are over 34,000 references. You are without doubt the biggest pain in the butt to the RIAA. How did you get involved in this debacle?

In late 2004 or early 2005 I learned of these lawsuits from the EFF. I thought to myself “I’m a litigator, I’m a copyright lawyer, and I hate bullies. So maybe I can help some of these folks.”

Then in Summer or Spring 2005 I got my first client who wanted to fight back. It occurred to me that one of the RIAA’s strategic advantages was information. It had one law firm controlling all 25,000 cases, and knew what was going on in each one. A defendant’s lawyer, on the other hand, had no information at all except what the RIAA wanted us to know. I didn’t know what was going on in other cases, or, indeed, if there were any other cases where defendants were fighting back. So decided to set up the blog as a place to collect information.

The RIAA seems to think that suing their own customers is a good idea. I can not think of another industry that has played this game and won. Are they just a school yard bully?

Yes. The ugliest and cruelest school yard bully I have ever encountered, and I have seen some bad ones.

Does the RIAA understand the concept of freedom of choice?

The people running this lawsuit are not exactly human. They understand nothing. They are like the bad robots in RoboCop.

Some might say that the bully-boy tactics actually encourage people to “rebel” and go for illegal downloads? I guess the analogy here would be being told by your mom not to touch something, and of course you, as the 5 year old are now galvanized into action!

I don’t agree with that, but the bully-boy tactics have created a whole new class of consumer — people who seek out independent music not tainted by the ghouls and freaks running the Big 4.

The RIAA make the argument that music piracy is killing the music industry, and they can back that claim up with statistics. My view is somewhat different. If you like something, you will buy it. Is music piracy the reason that sales are flat?

I think their sales are declining because the companies are being run by morons who have been hypnotized by some unscrupulous lawyers, who have never had any imagination as to how to sell music on the internet, and who are bringing lawsuits — and trying to blame others — strictly to cover up their failure to capitalize on one of the greatest money making opportunities ever.

Why do they actively attempt to blur the line before legal downloads approved by bands/put up by bands and those that are merely thieving?

I’m sorry, don’t understand the question. Their goal is to try to monopolize digital music. They will say and do anything to try to make that happen.

Why do they do it? Because these robots don’t understand competition. They do everything as a collusive pack of 4.

What do you see the RIAA doing in future as they become even more desperate?

Chapter 11.

I realize that you can not discuss cases that you are involved in, but maybe you could share some general thoughts about the way you see this issue moving. There are noises about taxing internet access, as a way of recompensing the music industry. This idea, at least in my mind, is about as sensible as invading Iceland. What are your thoughts?

The courts are starting to reject the RIAA’s stupid theories and starting to get irked at its lawyers’ frivolous behavior, and more lawyers and defendants are choosing to fight back, and are doing so in a better informed way. So the cost of pushing this madness forward is increasing.

Meanwhile, the shareholders can’t be happy to see the value of their stock declining so drastically, so I would imagine they’ll eventually wake up and stop the madness, even before the Courts — which move slowly — get around to it.

There are not many lawyers that can talk the talk, and walk the walk, when it comes to the computer world. Yet you talk happily about IP addresses, wireless routers, DHCP, and even the basic structure of the Internet. Was this a huge learning curve?

Yes of course I have had to learn a lot about the technology to keep up with the RIAA’s lies. If the RIAA’s lawyers weren’t professional liars, I might not have had to learn so much.

Recording Industry v The People has been a very successful and useful site. But it must take an enormous amount of time and effort to keep it up to date. How many folks work on it?


Thanks for taking time to talk with us here at Blogger News, and good luck with your quest.

Simon Barrett


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