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News Releases

Capitol Hill Leaders Spotlight Advertisements On Rogue Sites

May 26, 2011
Calls on major brands to cut off advertising to illegal sites

WASHINGTON – The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus (IAPC) today turned its focus to major companies whose advertising appears on rogue sites dedicated to the theft of creative works, highlighting the concern that the placement of ads on these sites connotes a veneer of legitimacy and subsidizes an illegal site’s continued existence.  Members of the IAPC announced their intention to send letters to these brands requesting information about the firms’ advertising policies in what the Congressional leaders said was a cooperative effort to cut off advertising on rogue websites that traffic in illegal content. 

Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), was on hand at the news conference in the U.S. Capitol as IAPC members displayed screen shots of some illicit websites, marked with advertisements and logos from some of the most well-known American brands.  The event also served to spotlight IAPC’s release of its annual “watch list” naming the top five countries with the most inadequate intellectual property protections, thus providing safe harbor to many rogue sites dedicated to the online theft of copyrighted works.  This year’s list included Canada, China, Russia, Spain and the Ukraine.

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus is comprised of Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Adam Schiff (D-Cal.).

“It’s essential that we reign in online thieves and business models predicated on ripping off America’s songwriters, musicians and performers,” said Bainwol at the event.  “A review of the most frequently visited web sites – including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace -- feature banner ads for some of America’s best known companies.

“We don’t believe the good corporate citizens featured on these sites are aware that their ad buys are funding criminal enterprises. Thanks to the good work of the IAPC, IPEC Victoria Espinel and Vice President Biden, we are moving closer to an Internet environment where pirate sites specializing in ripping off American consumers and brands are starved out of business.”

The event comes on the heels of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee passage of the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act by Hatch and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).  The bill requires payment processors and advertisers to cut off services to offshore sites determined by federal courts to be primarily dedicated to the online theft of American goods. These sites cause billions of dollars in damages to American creative industries, costing millions of jobs that rely on the legitimate sales of their work.

The RIAA recently joined an extensive coalition of 170 companies and organizations from a broad array of sectors – including adidas, Ford, the NBA, Nike, PING, Revlon, Rosetta Stone, Wal-Mart and many others – in sending a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate to express support for and encourage enactment of the PROTECT IP Act.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


Senate Bill Calls For Tougher Penalties for Unlawful Streaming of Content

May 13, 2011
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee members Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) this week introduced S. 978, a bipartisan bill aimed at more effectively combating the online theft of copyrighted works by classifying the illicit streaming of music, movies and other content as a felony.

Under current law, illegal uploading and downloading of protected works is already a felony but not streaming.  The bill follows upon the recommendations of U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel who in March outlined several steps Congress should take to improve intellectual property protection in the America.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) offered the following statement from its Executive Vice President, Public Policy and Industry Relations, Mitch Glazier on the legislation:

“On behalf of a music community that has lost thousands of jobs to piracy, we are frustratingly familiar with the damaging impact of online theft,” said Glazier.  “As the music industry continues its transition from selling CDs to providing fans convenient access to a breadth of legal music online, laws that provide effective enforcement against new and developing forms of content theft are essential to the health of our business.

“We thank and applaud Senators Klobuchar, Cornyn and Coons for their important work on S. 978 and we look forward to working with Senate and House members as they continue to develop effective legislation that provides enforcement against the piracy that robs the creative community and American economy of jobs, innovation and compensation.”

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


Senate Introduces PROTECT IP Legislation to Confront Foreign Counterfeiting Websites

May 12, 2011
WASHINGTON--U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced bipartisan legislation to counter and closedown foreign websites that illegally sell pirated American products.

The bipartisan bill, S.968–the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act,” or “PROTECT IP Act,” is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) offered the following statement by Chairman & CEO Mitch Bainwol on the legislation:

“American music is repeatedly stolen online every day, yet current laws have not kept pace with criminal enterprises that set up rogue websites overseas to escape accountability,” said Bainwol.  “The result for the music community is thousands of lost jobs and fewer opportunities for aspiring musicians.  This important legislation represents the beginning of a common-sense approach to hold illicit foreign websites accountable for profiting from the pirating of American ingenuity and creativity.

“We thank and applaud Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, Senator Hatch and all of the cosponsors for their important work on ‘PROTECT IP Act.’  We look forward to working with the Senate and the House as they continue to develop an effective law that will save American jobs, protect creators’ property from rampant online theft and foster a legitimate online shopping experience for consumers.”

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


LimeWire and Major Record Labels Reach Settlement

May 12, 2011
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON -- The major record companies announced Thursday that they have reached an out-of-court $105 million settlement with the notorious peer-to-peer service LimeWire and its CEO Mark Gorton.

The settlement follows a decision by federal district court Judge Kimba Wood last year to shut down LimeWire after she found both the service and Mr. Gorton liable for inducing massive copyright infringement.  A jury trial in New York City on the amount of damages to be paid by Mr. Gorton had begun last week.  The record companies’ case was argued by the law firm Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP.  Below is a comment from RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol:  

"We are pleased to have reached a large monetary settlement following the court’s finding that both LimeWire and its founder Mark Gorton personally liable for copyright infringement.  As the court heard during the last two weeks, LimeWire wreaked enormous damage on the music community, helping contribute to thousands of lost jobs and fewer opportunities for aspiring artists.  

"The significant settlement underscores the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in the Grokster case -- designing and operating services to profit from the theft of the world’s greatest music comes with a stiff price.  The resolution of this case is another milestone in the continuing evolution of online music to a legitimate marketplace that appropriately rewards creators.  This hard fought victory is reason for celebration by the entire music community, its fans and the legal services that play by the rules."

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


U.S. Government Issues Annual Report Naming Foreign Countries With Worst IP Protections

May 02, 2011
WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today issued its annual "Special 301" report which highlights copyright theft concerns in foreign markets, including in particular China, Russia and Canada.

The Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA’s) Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, offered the following comments on the announcement.

“USTR continues to shine the light on illicit practices around the globe that must be addressed in order to expand trade in legitimate products and services. We thank them and their colleagues in other agencies for their diligence and vision in identifying such practices, and in demanding that U.S. trading partners adopt legal or enforcement reforms designed to achieve better copyright protection, particularly in connection with digital commerce. The U.S. government properly recognizes that enhancing the level of protection on the Internet is a critical objective for the U.S. creative community and for overall U.S. competitiveness. The Internet has the capacity to fuel a cultural renaissance by providing an efficient mechanism for global distribution of recorded music and other cultural materials. Unfortunately, that potential is mired in a sea of digital theft.

CHINA & RUSSIA

“As has been the case for some time, copyright theft in China and Russia continue to be strongly reflected in the report as countries on the Priority Watch List. The Chinese marketplace, long dominated by piracy, has evolved in precisely the wrong manner. The physical market was decimated by piracy, and digital distribution promised a new beginning. Unfortunately, the digital market now closely resembles its physical counterparts, with theft levels well above 90 percent, fueled principally by the deep-linking, unlicensed music services by companies such as Baidu, Sohu and Xunlei who, as major actors in the Internet space, should know better. The Chinese government has recently undertaken some enforcement actions against Baidu, and has committed to reform its legal structure to ensure that those who facilitate copyright infringement like Baidu are held to be as equally liable as those who directly engage in this theft. We look forward to seeing these reforms quickly implemented, and the establishment of conditions in China that will permit U.S. and Chinese creators alike to realize value from the popularity of the materials that they create.

“The picture in Russia is eerily similar to that in China. A physical market long dominated by piracy has now evolved into an online market dominated by piracy. And like China, problems in the Russian online market are primarily fueled by a major Internet actor—vKontakte which, like Baidu, was named as a ‘notorious market’ in USTR’s separate report highlighting piracy hotspots. vKontakte operates a music service wholly premised on the making available of infringing materials, and offers its users a easy interface for locating the infringing music of their choice. This kind of open and notorious theft has no place in today’s world, and the lack of interference from the Russian government is hardly the kind of conduct that one would expect from a country hoping to conclude WTO accession this year.

CANADA

“Canada’s inclusion in the Priority Watch List is certainly warranted, and undoubtedly a source of continued confusion and frustration. Canada is virtually alone in the developed world in failing to bring its copyright standards into line with accepted international standards for the digital age. As a direct result, it has become a haven for many unscrupulous individuals and companies wishing to cash in from providing access to illegal content. We hope that Canada’s new government, when installed, will move quickly to address this harmful anachronism.

SPAIN & ITALY

“We also highlight continuing problems in Spain and Italy. The Spanish music market has been decimated by online piracy during the past five years, fuelled by government policies that made meaningful enforcement impossible. The recent adoption of the Sustainable Economy Law is a greatly welcomed first step in addressing online theft, and we will be monitoring its implementation closely to gauge its impact. The Spanish government has presented a report to USTR outlining the fact that the law will allow them to take action against torrent sites, trackers and linking sites, as well as against sites that host illicit materials. We look to the Spanish government for prompt action, and to restore the rule of law to an environment that has been lawless for too long.

“The online piracy problem in Italy has also been severe, but the government has already taken some significant actions to address it, and the Communications authority appears poised to adopt a regulation that could, if vigorously implemented, have a significant impact in addressing Internet piracy. We will be following the situation closely, and hope to have good news to report in advance of the out-of-cycle review that USTR announced will take place sometime later this year.”

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101