RIAA Targets Retail Establishments Hawking Pirated CDs
Stepping up the effort to root out the sale of pirated CDs at otherwise legitimate retail outlets, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, sued five New York City retailers for flagrant violations of copyright law.
The latest legal action is part of a program designed to deter a continuing piracy trend: the sale of illegal music at small, established businesses. Pirated CDs can increasingly be manufactured and sold with only a minimal investment of space and capital. As a result, some retailers -- such as the owners of convenience stores, small music stores, or corner markets -- are attempting to make a quick buck by selling illegal CDs, or even manufacturing counterfeit CDs themselves. In response, the RIAA has adopted an aggressive "zero tolerance" approach to retailers engaged in this activity.
The music industry anti-piracy efforts are also part of larger initiative recently launched by the RIAA and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) aimed at protecting holiday shoppers from purchasing illegal copies of CDs and DVDs and reducing the amount of illegal product readily available to the public.
The establishments sued today previously received demand letters from RIAA lawyers but refused or ignored overtures for a settlement.
"We routinely work with and educate retail establishment owners on good business practices for the sale of music," said Brad Buckles, executive vice president, Anti-Piracy, RIAA. "When individuals ignore the law and attempt to make a quick buck by selling pirated CDs, we will enforce our rights. Engaging in this behavior is akin to dealing in stolen property. It undermines the business of legitimate record stores that sell music to fans the right way."
In addition to the five lawsuits, the RIAA has sent a new round of demand letters to the owners of 20 retail establishments in New York City and parts of California. Since this program was first launched in 2002, some 50 retail establishments have either settled out of court or had sizable penalties rendered against them.
"RIAA's efforts to stop illegal sales at retail outlets is important to all of the music retailers who operate legally, and who shouldn't have to compete with retailers who operate illegally," said Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers. "NARM does not tolerate piracy because of the harm it does to our members and the industry as a whole, and retailers who engage in these practices risk losing their membership in the Association."
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