RIAA Admits ‘Stream-ripping’ Is Not a Problem

Wants webcasters to adopt anti-stream ripping technology BEFORE it becomes a “big problem.”

The Digital Freedom Campaign today responded to a statement made by RIAA Senior VP of Govt Relations, Mitch Glazier in a recently noted that stream ripping, an unrelated issue to the current Internet radio royalty rate debates, was not necessarily a problem.

Mr. Glazier, addressing the logic behind a sudden effort by the recording industry to require webcasters to adopt anti-stream ripping technology was asked whether stream-ripping was even a problem, stated, “why wait until it is a big problem to start addressing it? There are available technologies in the marketplace to address this issue.”

The ‘stream-ripping’ issue is not relevant to the Internet royalty rate decision by the Copyright Royalty Board in March, and was not mentioned in the CRB ruling.

“The music industry’s top lobbyist is calling for the implementation of a burdensome, costly, and completely unnecessary technology by webcasters who play and promote the artists the RIAA claims to represent. He then admits that the issue is “not a big problem,” said Jennifer Stoltz, a spokesperson for the Digital Freedom Campaign.

“For the RIAA to try to impose unrealistic and wholly unnecessary technical mandates on an innovative and vibrant industry as part of larger, unrelated negotiations process is baffling.”

“The specific issue at hand is not commercial piracy, but rather fair use of legally recorded music for personal use, which is perfectly legal,” Stoltz continued. “Requiring webcasters to implement mandatory digital rights management technologies to prevent any personal recording of Internet radio streams is an imposition on both webcasters and consumers. It is a costly solution without even a hint of a problem. There is no evidence whatsoever that stream-ripping or commercial piracy from Internet radio is an issue, and the RIAA and SoundExchange should proceed with the ongoing negotiations with webcasters without demanding provisions that would further harm and inconvenience Internet radio listeners.”

The Digital Freedom Campaign supports the fair compensation of artists for their work, but also believes the imposition of unsustainable fees on internet broadcasters will hurt innovators, music fans, and independent and non- mainstream musicians. The moratorium on the imposition of new fees on Internet broadcasters while negotiations toward a resolution are underway is positive for the industry as a whole.

That said, the DFC is extremely concerned by reports that, as part of the “compromise,” SoundExchange has demanded that all internet radio stations implement mandatory digital rights management technologies. No evidence has been produced to justify this extraordinary imposition on consumers, and is unfortunate that as the record industry is moving away from DRM that frustrates digital music buyers, SoundExchange is attempting to foist new DRM mandates on digital radio listeners.

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(wants to spread the litigation love around)