updated 11:40 am EST, Thu November 29, 2007
EMI Scaling Back RIAA
Music label EMI could weaken the anti-piracy campaigns of both the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the near future by reducing its financial help with both organizations, claims an anonymous insider speaking to Reuters. A recent acquisition of EMI by the private equity firm Terra Firma is known to have triggered a financial review that would reduce the millions of dollars that the label supplies to both groups.
The pullback of resources is alleged to be a cost-cutting measure for EMI, which like other major labels is suffering from dropping CD sales without a large-enough rise in online purchases to make up the difference. Regardless, it also reduces the overall funding for both the IFPI and RIAA and may coincidentally distance EMI from their controversial legal campaigns against piracy. Both are known to lobby governments for stricter copyright laws and have in some cases filed lawsuits against normally sympathetic targets.
Tbe RIAA in particular has earned a negative reputation for suing individual file sharers for damages believed to be well in excess of what was actually lost. Critics have also observed that many of these complaints are based on circumstantial evidence that pinpoints only the owner of an Internet connection rather than an individual.
In contrast, EMI has recently been regarded as an unintentional champion of consumer rights in 2007 by becoming the first of the four major music producers to offer DRM-free music across its entire catalog as a test of the concept, in recent months lowering the price to match that of previously copy-protected songs after it found many users preferring the unrestricted format.
None of the organizations involved has been willing to comment on the seeming leak, though the IFPI admits that its annual budget will involve cost-cutting "as one would expect in this market," pointing to difficult business for the group irrespective of EMI's involvement.