Comments on the RIAA’s FAQ Propaganda

The RIAA’s newly launched site has turned justice into a one-click e-commerce experience. The site has an FAQ section that you might want to read to understand why you’re getting sued. As usual with the record industry, it’s full of half-truths and outright lies.

So, lets see what the truth behind the RIAA facts actually are. I’ve picked out the most egregious answers, but you should read the whole thing

Frequently Asked Questions

Just as a personal pet peeve, I hate this convention. These are not frequently asked questions. They are “questions we feel like answering…” Anyway.

Who are the plaintiffs in these lawsuits?
The plaintiffs are the labels, subsidiaries and affiliates of EMI Music, SONY BMG Music Entertainment, universal Music Group and Warner
music Group.

Am I being sued by the RIAA?
No. The record companies are members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the RIAA acts as counsel to the record companies in these cases.

So, to start of, they’re doing well. The man on the street hears “RIAA lawsuits” and doesn’t necessarily know that it’s actually these companies with household names that are doing the suing. Good for them for being honest here.

What evidence prompts a lawsuit?
If you’ve been sued, it is because you have been identified as uploading or downloading copyrighted music without authorization.

This is a lie. An IP address that, according to the ISPs records, was assigned to a broadband modem registered to your account. They have not identified you at all.

Is this a civil or a criminal case?
The lawsuits are civil, not criminal, and seek monetary damages and injunctive relief.

Strictly speaking, this is true. However, you should be careful when you settle. While it is a civil case, the settlement demanded by the RIAA allegedly includes an admission of guilt for copyright infringement. You will be swearing an oath that you’ve committed a crime and making it easier for other rights holders to sue you all over again.

If I have Wi-Fi at home, how can you be sure it was me who did the downloading?
The fact that a wireless connection is involved does not mean that the individual engaging in copyright infringement cannot be identified. Cases are routinely pursued where a wireless connection is involved.

Notice they don’t actually answer the question. The truth is, they can’t be sure it was you. And just because they’ve got enough money to try suing other people in that situation doesn’t change the facts.

If the record companies negotiated a settlement with the P2P service I used, can they still sue me?
Yes. You are still responsible for your actions and the harm that you have caused.

Of course, in the US, anyone can sue anyone. Just because they can sue you, it doesn’t mean they would win. Whether or not the settlement with Kazaa covers Kazaa users is still an open question.

What is the advantage to settling before a suit has been filed?
The settlement amount is generally lower if the case is settled before the record companies’ incur the costs of a litigation. Additionally, settling before the filing of a lawsuit will not result in a judgment. Any settlement that is negotiated after a lawsuit is brought against you in your name could include the entry of a judgment.

Of course, if they still require you to admit guilt in the settlement terms, then it doesn’t matter that there isn’t a judgement against you as it amounts to the same thing. And, of course, they don’t point out that settling helps them fund more lawsuits against your neighbour.

Does it matter that I did not know my activity was illegal?
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. But it is also important to note that the music community has for years undertaken vigorous educational efforts to inform people about the laws.

Yeah Sony! You see, when RIAA members get caught doing criminal damage to people’s computer systems, well that’s just an honest mistake that nobody really cared about…

Where can I find a list of legal music services and/or learn more about U.S. copyright law? is an excellent resource for questions about copyright law. It is a website designed to educate consumers about the issues associated with the downloading, uploading and consumer copying of music.

And full of RIAA propaganda. You’d be much better off with:

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6 Responses to Comments on the RIAA’s FAQ Propaganda

  1. D says:

    Excellent. Thank you!

  2. Superlex1000 says:

    The scale of the fines seems rather unusual – a bit like a 10 year stint in Federal Prison for running a red light.

    Of course, we have a Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment (the 8th amendment.)

    What we don’t have (yet) is a constitutional challenge to the DMCA on the grounds that the punishments it mets out (and which encourage the RIAA to prosecute) are totally out of line with any other punishment in the criminal code.

  3. Pingback: FAQ/Propaganda at yarbroughs dot org

  4. Mark says:


    I think the reason is that copyright law has traditionally been about large corporations and/or counterfeit copies. You right, now that the average college student is likely to be a copyright criminal, the punishments seem a bit out of whack.

  5. Pingback: mark’lectic » Blog Archive » Settling with the RIAA May Bring You More Trouble

  6. Maximus says:

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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