RIAA video for students is full of lies

Purporting to spread the word about students' rights and liabilities, recording industry DVD baldly misrepresents the law.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
The Recording Industry Assoc. of American is deliberately misleading students about copyright law and their rights under the law, legal and industry groups are asserting, reports News.com.

In an information video intended to be distributed to college students (fun viewing!), the RIAA has deliberately misinformed students to be wary of free content and claims that it's always illegal to make a copy of a song, even if it's just to introduce a friend to a new band, said Robert Schwartz, general counsel for the Home Recording Rights Coalition, one of the groups opposed to the video.

The Consumer Electronics Association and Public Knowledge have issued a joint statement condemning some of the legal information stated in the RIAA video by the RIAA. The video is intended to be distributed to universities across the U.S.

And EFF's Jason Schulz notes:

They claim that making any copies of any music for friends is "just as illegal as downloading." Presumably, this includes making a mixed CD for a girlfriend or buddy -- something most people consider to be fair use. It's exactly these kinds of extreme positions that make the RIAA look ridiculous and out of touch with today's music fans.

There is a long-running dispute between the RIAA and companies that have a stake in the industry such as CD-burner manufacturers. The RIAA has led high-profile cases against people who share music files on the web. And now they are launching an education campaign focusing on the consequences people face when they download music illegally.

"First, we were told we should not enforce our rights," said an RIAA representative responding to critics of the video. "Now we are told education is wrong, too. We won't accept such a do-nothing approach. We'll continue to work with respected higher-education groups to engage students to think critically about these issues."

The seven minute video covers a cursory explanation of copyright law and warns of possible incarceration if caught.

"Making copies for your friends, or giving it to them to copy, or e-mailing it to anyone is just as illegal as free downloading," the video narrator says.

The RIAA's movie does concede in a FAQ section that copying is OK for productive or scholarly works. The video's critics say the response makes no mention of allowable uses for home recordings, even for individual use, which the law allows.

"The RIAA seems to be making up the rules instead of citing any consistent interpretation or precedent as to the law," said Schwartz.
Editorial standards