The Onion: The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.
“It’s criminal,” RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. “Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?”
According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists’ CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.
“These radio stations are extremely popular,” Rosen said. “They flagrantly string our songs together in ‘uninterrupted music blocks’ of up to 70 minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD’s worth of product without a break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise between songs. It’s bad enough that they’re giving away our music for free, but they’re actually making a profit off this scheme.”
RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.
“If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician’s ability to earn a living off his music,” Frackman said. “[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell a man who’s devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?”
For the record companies and the RIAA, one of the most disturbing aspects of the radio-station broadcasts is that anyone with a receiver and an analog tape recorder can record the music and play it back at will.
“I’ve heard reports that children as young as 8 tape radio broadcasts for their own personal use,” Rosen said. “They listen to a channel that has a limited rotation of only the most popular songs—commonly called ‘Top 40’ stations—then hit the ‘record’ button when they hear the opening strains of the song they want. And how much are they paying for these songs? A big fat zip.”
About time they went after those freeloaders.