Recording Industry Association of America

Recording Industry Association of America

The Recording Industry Association of America (or RIAA) is a trade group that represents the major labels of the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of a large number of private corporate entities such as record labels and distributors, which the RIAA claims "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States".cite web |url= |title=Who We Are |publisher=RIAA] cite web |url= |title=p2pnet |]

The RIAA was formed in 1952 primarily to administer the RIAA equalization curve, a technical standard of frequency response applied to vinyl records during manufacturing and playback. The RIAA has continued to participate in creating and administering technical standards for later systems of music recording and reproduction, including magnetic tape (including cassette tapes and digital audio tapes), CDs and software-based digital technologies.

The RIAA also participates in the collection, administration and distribution of music licenses and royalties.

The association is responsible for certifying gold and platinum albums and singles in the USA. For more information about sales data see List of best selling albums and List of best selling singles.

The RIAA's goals are:
#to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists;
#to perform research about the music industry;
#to monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies.

Company structure and Sales

As of April 2007, the RIAA is led by Mitch Bainwol, who has been Chairman and CEO since 2003. He is assisted by Cary Sherman, the President of the Board of Directors. The board of directors consists of 26 members of the board, drawn mostly from the big four members of the RIAA. [ [ Board of the RIAA] (RIAA website)]

The RIAA represents over 1,600 member labels, which are private corporate entities such as record labels and distributors, and which collectively create and distribute about 90% of recorded music sold in the US. The largest and most influential of the members are the "Big Four":
* Sony BMG Music Entertainment
* Universal Music Group
* Warner Music Group

The total annual net income from members of the RIAA is reported to be $11.5 billion [ [] (RIAA website)] , reflecting a decline since a high of $14.5 billion in 1999.

Sales certification

The RIAA operates an award program for albums which sell a large number of copies. [cite web
title=Gold and Platinum (Index)
author=RIAA Website
] The program originally began in 1958, with a "Gold Award" for singles and albums which reach US$1 million sales. The criteria was changed in 1975 to be based on the number of copies sold, with singles and albums selling 500,000 copies awarded the Gold Award. In 1976, a "Platinum Award" was added for one million sales, and in 1999 a "Diamond Award" for ten million sales. The awards are open to both RIAA members and non-members. [cite web
title=Gold and Platinum Certification
author=RIAA Website

The RIAA also operates a similar program for Spanish language music sales, called "Los Premios Awards".

“Digital” sales certification

In 2004, the RIAA added a branch of certification for what it calls “digital” recordings, meaning roughly “recordings transferred to the recipient over a network” (such as those sold via the iTunes Store), and excluding other obviously-digital media such as those on CD, DAT, or MiniDiscs. In 2006, “digital ringtones” were added to this branch of certification. As of 2007, the certification criteria for these recordings are as follows:

*Silver: 100,000
*Gold: 500,000
*Platinum: 1,000,000
*Multi-Platinum: 2,000,000 (recertified at each million-unit interval)
*Diamond: 10,000,000

Video Longform certification

Along with albums, digital albums, and singles there is another classification of music release called "Video Longform." This release format includes: live albums, compilation albums, "greatest hits" albums, and DVD releases. The certification criteria is slightly different from other styles. [ [ Latest Video Longform Certifications] Retrieved on May 14, 2008]

*Gold: 50,000
*Platinum: 100,000

Efforts against copyright infringement

tance on home recording

The RIAA has asserted apparently contradictory positions both for and against home recording, such as transferring the contents of music CDs to portable players or making backup copies of music CDs.

In a 2005 argument before the Supreme Court in "MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.", counsel for the RIAA stated that "it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod." [ [ "MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd." oral argument transcript,] March 29, 2005, p. 12.]

In 2006, the RIAA appeared to reverse its position, claiming that copying the contents of CDs or backing them up does not constitute fair use, because recordings transferred from CDs do not maintain controversial Digital Rights Management (DRM) to prevent the music file from being copied, and are therefore infringing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, even though audio CDs (formally Compact Disc Digital Audio), by definition, "have no DRM". They argue that there is no evidence that any of the relevant media are "unusually subject to damage" and that "even if CDs do become damaged, replacements are readily available at affordable prices." [" [ RIAA Says Ripping CDs to Your iPod is NOT Fair Use] ", EFF Deep Links, 15 February 2006]

Efforts against file sharing

The RIAA opposes unauthorized file sharing of its music. It has commenced high profile lawsuits against file sharing service providers. It has also commenced a controversial series of lawsuits against individuals suspected of file sharing, notably college students and parents of file sharing children. It is accused of employing techniques such as peer-to-peer network pollution to combat file sharing.

Lawsuits against other recording, distribution, and search technologies

In October 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit in the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco claiming the Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 player violated the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act. The Rio PMP300 was significant because it was the second portable consumer MP3 digital audio player released on the market. The three judge panel ruled in favor of Diamond, paving the way for the development of the portable digital player market. [" [ Court OKs Diamond Rio MP3 Player] ", by Elizabeth Clampet, InternetNews.Com, 16 June 1999]

RIAA has also filed suit in 2006 to enjoin digital XM Satellite Radio from enabling its subscribers from playing songs it has recorded from its satellite broadcasts. [" [ XM Faces The Music In RIAA Copyright Suit] ", by Joseph Palenchar, TWICE, 22 May 2006] It is also suing several Internet radio stations. [" [ RIAA sues Internet radio stations] ",, July 2001]

On December 21 2006, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against Russian owned and operated website in the amount of $1.65 trillion ($1,650,000,000,000). This number was derived from multiplying 11 million songs with statutory damages of $150,000 per song. The Moscow court ruled in favor of [" [ ALLOFMP3. Digital music.] ",, November 05, 2007]

On April 28 2008, RIAA member labels sued Project Playlist, a web music search site, claiming their copyrights are infringed by the site's index of links. Project Playlist's website denies that any of the music is hosted on Project Playlist's own servers.


The RIAA supports several pieces of legislation in the United States which it believes help it prevent copyright infringement. This legislation includes the proposed "Digital Content Protection Act of 2006", which is being considered by the United States Senate. According to PublicKnowledge [" [ "New and Improved" Draft Broadcast Flag Bill: This Time for TV and Radio] ", by Alex Curtis, PublicKnowledge, 20 January 2006] and the EFF, [" [ New Senate Broadcast Flag Bill Would Freeze Fair Use] ", EFF Deep Links, 20 January, 2006] this would prevent new ways to use media content, and could prevent customers from recording music, even if covered by fair use. This would effectively create a radio broadcast flag rule. The RIAA has supported legislation in the past which also attempted to introduce a radio broadcast flag.

The "Work Made for Hire" controversy

In 1999, Stanley M. Glazier, a Congressional staff attorney, inserted, without public notice or comment, substantive language into the final markup of a "technical corrections" section of copyright legislation, classifying many music recordings as "works made for hire," thereby stripping artists of their copyright interests and transferring those interests to their record labels. [ cite web |url= |title=Rule Reversal: Blame It on RIAA |accessdate=2007-04-09|author=Wired] Shortly afterwards, Glazier was hired as Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel for the RIAA, which vigorously defended the change when it came to light. The battle over the disputed provision led to the formation of the Recording Artists' Coalition, which successfully lobbied for repeal of the change.

Cultural references

* "Weird Al" Yankovic's single "Don't Download This Song" satirizes the RIAA's lawsuits against copyright infringers.
* The March 4, 2007 FoxTrot strip also satirized the RIAA's lawsuits, where Jason tried to teach his iguana Quincy to download music, because "it's one thing for them to go after single moms, widows, grandmothers, dead people and children... but sue an iguana?! That'd be insane!" [ [ FoxTrot comic from March 4, 2007] ]
* The Machinae Supremacy song "Legion of Stoopid" refers to the company as the "Recording Industry Assholes of America".
* MC Lars's single "Download This Song" criticized the RIAA and the music industry in general, mentioning the RIAA's lawsuits against "little kids downloading hit songs."
* Billy Joel said in an interview that his first album Cold Spring Harbor wasn't worth the money to buy, and urges people to steal it if they can manage it.
* After being asked to compose a Christmas Song safe for download Jonathan Coulton released 'Podsafe Christmas Song' which contained the lyrics "Don't think us rude, we don't want to get sued/ by the thugs at the RIAA"
* After the release of the album "Year Zero", Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails told fans in Australia during tour to "STEAL IT. Steal away. Steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin’. Because one way or another, these motherfuckers will get it through their head that they’re ripping people off and that’s not right." [ [] ] Reznor has openly opposed the RIAA, and later left Interscope, his record company at the time.
* The third album by System of a Down is titled "Steal This Album!", which has been interpreted as a reference to RIAA campaigns against copyright infringement, although it may be a reference to the Abbie Hoffman novel "Steal this Book"

ee also

* Anti-copyright
* Big Content
* Intellectual Property trade groups
* List of RIAA member labels
* Parental Advisory
* Phynd


External links

* [ RIAA official website]
* [ The RIAA Radar] Find out if a specific CD was released by a RIAA member

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