The Guardian asks a pertinent question: what happens to all the damages handed over by unlicensed music users who get shaken down by the RIAA and similar organisations?
Obviously, in most cases, the legal costs far outweigh the gains to be made, but sometimes there is a profit. What then?
Well, of course, the moneys raised are shared with the artists whose work has been "stolen", isn't it? Because that's what it's all about, right? Protecting the artist?
Oh, don't be so silly:
A spokesman for the IFPI responded to my questions with the following statement:
"Tackling music piracy is anything but a profitable activity for the music industry. Any compensation received as a result of the cases taken by the industry is unfortunately a tiny drop in the ocean when set against the enormous cost of illegal filesharing and other forms of piracy in terms of lost sales. Generally, when IFPI receives money from actions taken on behalf of rights-holders, this is ploughed back into our anti-piracy operations."
You'll have spotted the usual music industry tactic of throwing a red herring in there:
- when you get money from filesharers, what happens to it?
- the money we get from filesharers is nothing compared to the money we've lost in sales, you know
But then, when an answer is offered, it's the suggestion that money paid in response to lawsuits is spent on more lawsuits. Confirming that, whatever the original intention of suing, it's now become a little side industry all on its own. No wonder it's so hard for the record companies to abandon the strategy.
Still, surely someone must have questioned the morality of wailing "you're stealing royalties from the artists which is wrong", only to spend the reclaimed royalties rather than passing them on to the artists?