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RIAA Forgets to Make Royalty Payments 341

Posted by michael
from the gentle-reminder dept.
theodp writes "NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer agreed with the RIAA on one point - artists WERE being deprived of money that was rightfully theirs. But Spitzer managed to find $50 million for performers without shaking down grandmothers. Spitzer's culprits? A Who's Who of the nation's top recording companies - members of the RIAA - who failed to maintain contact with artists and stopped making required royalty payments."
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RIAA Forgets to Make Royalty Payments

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  • Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Allen Zadr (767458) * <Allen@Zadr.gmail@com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:10AM (#9072445) Journal
    Instead of coming right out and bashing the RIAA, (yes, that needs doing as well), I have a different question...

    From the Article ( bold emphasis added):

    "The companies have also agreed to comply with New York State's Abandoned Property Law, which requires that if an artist or his or her family cannot be found, unclaimed royalties be "escheated" or turned over to the state. The state then holds these monies until a claim is made."

    While this will be great for a lot of artists I question the motive. I doubt that Eliot Spitzer is doing this for artists. I'm sure New York state will benefit from the interest revenue from "hold[ing] these monies. It won't hurt his career to have his name in the paper either.

    Of course, I didn't bother to look up his record. Maybe he really is just doing his job, protecting the citizens of New York State.

    • Re:Motives (Score:4, Funny)

      by JaffaKREE (766802) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:12AM (#9072460)
      without shaking down grandmothers.

      But who knows what else they're getting away with ?
      Shaking down grandmothers makes life worth living !
    • Re:Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spaeschke (774948) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:13AM (#9072467)
      Spitzer's been a great watchdog for US citizens. All of those crackdowns on securities violators? Primarily coming out of Spitzer's office. Of course, it also doesn't hurt his political career, but hey, the guy's been doing a bang up job as NY DA.
      • Re:Motives (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        the guy's been doing a bang up job as NY DA.

        He's really been doing a great job as the Attorney General, too. I'm sure you're right, though, that his days as Assistant DA in NYC were great, too.
      • Re:Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Belisarivs (526071) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:32AM (#9072625)

        I remember reading an article pondering the next New York governors race. It was decided that Spitzer would be the best Democratic candidate, as his poll numbers were around 60% . . . among Republicans.

        I'm a conservative Republican, and I voted for him last time around.

        • Re:Motives (Score:5, Insightful)

          by UconnGuy (562899) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:54AM (#9072808)
          I think that goes to show that if a canditate has a good record and doesn't show partisanship, then he/she can be popular across the board. Here, you have the AG, who shouldn't be partisan in his position, working for the people, and with the approval ratings, it shows the public appreciates it. I really thinks it comes down to, he was doing his job (fighting for the citizens of NY) and he was successful in what he was elected to do.
        • Re:Motives (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mrsev (664367)
          "I'm a conservative Republican..." .... move along now sir! There nothing here for you!

          ***disclaimer: you have the right to vote for whoever you want.....democracy...one man one vote....equality...representation...my right to take the piss.***

          But seriously , I am glad that you have voted for the person whom you respect and wish to lead you. I have always disliked the concept of a political party. I think democracy would work much better without them. Then we could spend much more time choosing people to r
    • Re:Motives (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stephen R Hall (163541) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:16AM (#9072489)
      Better the money in New York State's coffers, where it will be of benefit to the public, than with the record companies, where a relatively small number of shareholders benefit from money that isn't theirs.
      • Re:Motives (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Allen Zadr (767458) * <Allen@Zadr.gmail@com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:31AM (#9072615) Journal
        Good point. See, I knew my question would get some good ol' RIAA bashing in.

        So, how does New York prove which money is theirs to hold? New York holding money would do little good for someone who's living in Alaska or Hawii.

        • Re:Motives (Score:2, Interesting)

          by tkg (455770)
          So, how does New York prove which money is theirs to hold?

          Interesting question. I'd think that NY state would have to prove the artist is a resident, which means providing an address, which would mean the artist's location is known, which means the record label can pay the artist his/her royalties, which would mean NY wouldn't get to hold the money. Of course they might only have to show that NY was the artist's last known address.
        • Re:Motives (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          What I don't get is the idiotic RIAA bashing in the article head.

          It is cleverly disguised, but it is there. In saying the *RIAA* is at fault, that is like saying that all software developers abuse their power simply because Microsoft does. The RIAA is not the music industry. It is an association of music industry corporations. It doesn't run the companies nor does it collect the fees. It helps make certain that the fees can be collected in some instances where their stakeholders feel they need to do s
          • Re:Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Allen Zadr (767458) * <Allen@Zadr.gmail@com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#9073176) Journal
            I highly doubt that these people are hard to find;
            "David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, Dave Matthews, Sean Combs and Gloria Estefan"

            Withholding money from Dave Matthews may have been more than an oversight. After-all, he's spoken out more than once about royalty free music for the masses.

            Otherwise I agree that the RIAA is marginally different from the individual publishers it represents.

          • Re:Motives (Score:5, Insightful)

            by grrliegeek (592264) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:16AM (#9073649) Journal
            What I don't get is your reasoning. The RIAA is at fault because by contract they were required to pay royalties. Again I quote "Spitzer's culprits? A Who's Who of the nation's top recording companies - members of the RIAA - who failed to maintain contact with artists and stopped making required royalty payments." If you have a problem with people associating the RIAA with all those record companies, you should remember that while prosecuting pre-teens and grannies, the RIAA has constantly reminded us that they are the representative of all those record companies and artists. You can't have it both ways. Either they are the representative of all those record companies and OK to prosecute people for alleged violations of the law, and it's OK to say they are to blame for this lack of payment to artists *or* they are not really responsible, you're right, we should lay off the, *and* they have no right to sue anyone. Which is it? You say the recording artists are at fault for the record company not paying them their royalties due. I'm sure then you'd be perfectly OK blaming yourself if your employer suddenly stopped giving you paychecks.
    • Re:Motives (Score:4, Funny)

      by trentblase (717954) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:19AM (#9072518)
      The state then holds these monies until a claim is made.

      I claim it! The article doesn't say the claim has to be substantiated. And everyone knows that some random newspaper quote can be legally binding in the hands of a madman.

    • Re:Motives (Score:4, Informative)

      by Misch (158807) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:19AM (#9072520) Homepage
      He's been doing one hell of a job, though once in a blue moon I think he might let some companies off too easily. AG's do have discretion to do that though.

      Besides, NY has a pretty advanced system for getting people in touch with their lost money [state.ny.us]
      • The article isn't clear, but how does NY know that they should be holding this money... What if I live in Nebraska?

        So, I wake up from a five year coma. I go looking for my royalty checks, and am told that they are being held by the state.

        So, I go down to the Comptroller's office in Lincoln and ask where my money is. They tell me it must be some other state. Well, my brother is in Florida... I'll call there. Nope. Oh, yeah, my mom in Arizona, maybe it's that state. Nope.

        Why would my money be in New

    • Re:Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by davidu (18) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:28AM (#9072595) Homepage Journal

      Spitzer has been doing an AWESOME job.

      I don't think it's any secret that he has political aspirations -- even if you ask him -- but that doesn't change the fact that he has been going after the wall street crooks WAY harder than the feds have. He has been nailing people left and right and sticking them for all he can.

      We need more people like Spitzer around to go after the bullshit without being crazy like Ashcroft.

      -davidu
    • While this will be great ... I question the motive.

      Exercise:

      1) Pick any generic beneficial public activity.

      2) Identify the set of motives for performing it that are reasonably "beyond question".

      3) Estimate the number of people embodying only those motives who have ever walked the earth.

      4) Divide it into the number of people needed to accomplish the activity.

      5) Stand back.

    • Re:Motives (Score:4, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:50AM (#9072769)
      While this will be great for a lot of artists I question the motive. I doubt that Eliot Spitzer is doing this for artists. I'm sure New York state will benefit from the interest revenue from "hold[ing] these monies. It won't hurt his career to have his name in the paper either.

      Having the state hold onto unclaimed property is standard procedure is most states. For example contents of safe-deposit boxes are kept by the state for years. The states do their best to locate rightful owners but like most states the unclaimed property departments are understaffed and underfunded so they can't do exhaustive searchs. Also I think that governments are forbidden by law to use the property in any way. So they cannot invest the money.

      An exception to unclaimed property is insurance money from a policy. The insurance companies hold onto these while searching for beneficiaries. They CAN invest the money while searching. In some states I think that they have to pay interest when the owner is found, but they don't have to pay all the interest gained.

    • While this will be great for a lot of artists I question the motive. I doubt that Eliot Spitzer is doing this for artists. I'm sure New York state will benefit from the interest revenue from "hold[ing] these monies.

      Well, somebody is going to benefit from having the royalty money salted away in the bank, and ya know, on the whole I think I'd prefer it to be New York State. Or d'you think the RIAA is handing over the interest revenue along with the overdue payments??

    • Re:Motives (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JordanH (75307)
      • While this will be great for a lot of artists I question the motive. I doubt that Eliot Spitzer is doing this for artists. I'm sure New York state will benefit from the interest revenue from "hold[ing] these monies. It won't hurt his career to have his name in the paper either.

      You know, he does work for the state of NY, after all.

      In any case, these royalties should benefit either the copyright holder or, failing that, the state and not these distribution companies. So, this is a good thing.

      The people g

    • Re:Motives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colonel Angus (752172) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:03AM (#9072903)
      Personally, I couldn't give two squirts what his motives are. It's not every day that you actually see someone actively trying to catch crooks. I am sure I am not the only one who is sick of seeing the excessively rich get richer by bending over those who are likely struggling to get by as it is. At current rate we'll soon have two classes... middle class will be relegated to "back in my day" stories.

      So if he's doing this for political gain... great. Go nuts. If he's doing it to get chicks, let'er rip! If he's doing it because the voices in his head said it's the right thing to do then who am I to argue. Let him clean this shit up since no one else who is SUPPOSED to be doing it is.
    • Re:Motives (Score:3, Informative)

      Disclaimer: I didn't read the article, probably it mentions this...

      Actually, the part about this that seems a little funny is the "cannot be found" part of that excerpt. Two of the artists that "couldn't be found" were Dave Matthews and Dolly Parton. Putting aside for a moment the RIAA's claims that "extraorinary measures" were taken to locate the artists, how hard could the recording labels have been looking...? They have websites for God's sake! They give concerts regularly!

      Hm. I wasn't mad when I sta

      • Re:Motives (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dubl-u (51156) *
        Capitalist bastards.

        Well, to be fair, I think they're more accurately oligarchic bastards. They really don't seem to get the whole market economics thing.
    • Re:Motives (Score:5, Informative)

      by BeProf (597697) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:17AM (#9072989)
      The principle of escheat has been around for a long time (think English Common Law), at least in real estate. The idea is to prevent any piece of real property from having no owner.

      For example, if a person dies with no heirs and no will, that person's property reverts to the state under escheat. Consider what would happen without escheat: the person's property would fall into a legal black hole. It would have no owner and therefore no way of transferring ownership or assigning use rights to third parties.

      Usually what happens is that the property in question is placed in escrow while a more in depth search for heirs is done. If the heirs can't be found everything will be sold at auction with the State keeping the proceeds.

      AFAIK, the principle works the about the same in all areas outside real estate. IANAL. YMMV.

      What I find amazing is that the record companies didn't put a reversion clause in their contracts. That is, if an artist or his/her heirs can't be found, the the royalties revert to the company.
  • the "harm", huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoolVibe (11466) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:13AM (#9072469) Journal
    I'd guess the music swappers are just a pinprick. The real hurt in the music industry is the RIAA itself, so it seems.

    Oh well. Good that they caught this. The artist do deserve their money.

    • I'd guess the music swappers are just a pinprick. The real hurt in the music industry is the RIAA itself, so it seems.

      Until they got caught, this didn't hurt the music industry at all. It hurt the artists, yes. But the RIAA *IS* the music industry, and they were the benefactors of this "mistake".

      So while I agree with your sentiment, I'd have to disagree with your statement.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by odano (735445) * on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:14AM (#9072475)
    I am as anti-RIAA as the next guy, but this doesn't seem all that bad.

    The RIAA is going out of there way to correct a royalty problem that may/may not have entirely been their fault. And the article makes it seem that it was the idea of an RIAA lawyer.

    Just my 2 cents...
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pubjames (468013) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:31AM (#9072614)
      The RIAA is going out of there way to correct a royalty problem that may/may not have entirely been their fault.

      The RIAA was collecting money on behalf of the artists. If they kept it without making much effort to track down the rightful owners, then that's theft as far as I'm concerned. Especially if they insist on calling 12yr old children thieves for swapping mp3s.
      • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Daemonik (171801) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:41AM (#9072688) Homepage
        The RIAA collects fines from people who violate the copyrights of it's membership. All monies collected in this endeavor are kept by the RIAA.

        Their stance that they are fighting to see artists get paid is based on the theory that if they stop copyright violation, everyone will buy legitimate copies of the work and the record company will pay the artists. The RIAA is not actually writing checks out to Metallica, except perhaps for their promotional work.
      • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Funny)

        by theAmazing10.t (770643) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:50AM (#9072765)
        They must not of made too much effort in finding these artists. Some of the names on the list shouldn't be to hard to find.

        I mean if they can't find Dolly Parton then obviously they aren't looking too hard.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

      by LuxFX (220822)
      The RIAA is going out of there way to correct a royalty problem that may/may not have entirely been their fault

      Sure, it sounds good now. But wait until the quarterly earnings are publicized. The RIAA will complain that earnings were mysteriously $50 Million under the projected earnings, and blame it all on piracy.
  • No no no. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bl1st3r (464353) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:14AM (#9072478) Homepage Journal
    Don't villianize the RIAA. It's not their fault the artists didn't want their money. After all, it should be the artists responsibility to track all playings of their song around the world.

    That lie aside, the RIAA sucks. I'm glad I'm not a musician on an RIAA label, I would hate myself.
    • Hehehe. I was about to rant until I saw the bit about "that lie aside"...

      But the RIAA strikes me like being no better than the taxman (or the Benefits gency in the UK).
      All too quick to contact you when they think you owe them money. But if you're intitled to any money from them then you'd best be prepared to put in a whole lot of effort.

      Tiggs
  • by dirtsurfer (595452) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:15AM (#9072482) Journal
    Don't tell me the RIAA are a bunch of hypocritical, dishonest bastards! Now I have nothing left to believe in.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:15AM (#9072484) Journal
    Say, fine the RIAA members $100K per non-paying incident, like they were threatening to charge the kiddie downloaders?

    Friggin' corporate pirates should be MADE to pay their proper dues!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:16AM (#9072494)
    In Soviet Russia, RIAA pays you!
  • Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rdilallo (682529) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:17AM (#9072496)
    I don't understand why the government has not seen the RIAA as an orginization that doesn't adhear to the rules that it's set for everyone else. They have such deep pockets, they can make the effort to locate the artists and pay the royalties. Don't be surprised that this has happened. There's much more to come out of this...
    • by gosand (234100) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:54AM (#9072807)
      I don't understand why the government has not seen the RIAA as an orginization that doesn't adhear to the rules that it's set for everyone else.

      Who says they haven't? You are making the assumption that the government believes that the rules apply equally to everyone. If that were the case, then Oprah Winfrey would have been fined or taken off the air for indecency. [nypost.com] Microsoft would have been punished under anti-trust laws and for illegally maintaining a monopoly. There are many many many other examples, these are just some of the more high profile ones.

      The rules do not apply equally to everyone.

  • by bigjnsa500 (575392) <bigjnsa500@NOSpaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:17AM (#9072501) Homepage Journal
    If these royalties for artists that they can't find, what happens to the money? Does it go into a general fund or does it go back to RIAA to line their pockets?

    Another question would be WHY the RIAA lost touch with these artists. Was it on purpose or accident?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Another question would be WHY the RIAA lost touch with these artists. Was it on purpose or accident?

      it was a terrible accident... the artist was not looking, and that big truck...
      oh, all happened so suddenly, terrible accident i'm telling you.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:18AM (#9072503)
    "Standard Industry Practice."

    RIAA members ripping off their artists is nothing new - it's been documented over and over and fucking over again. I'm sure some slashdotters can point to half a dozen articles written by artists who point out that, by the time the RIAA gets done doing the math on a "standard" industry contract, an even moderately sucessful artist winds up OWING a few thousand dollars to the label and is pretty much an indentured servant, because they can't jump labels to find a better deal by the terms of the contract.

    What we REALLY need is for some court ruling to take all those fucking provisions, and declare them illegal. THEN when the RIAA cries about "artists" being deprived of money due to file sharing, I might give a rat's ass about their bullshit argument.
  • by Deanasc (201050) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:18AM (#9072505) Homepage Journal
    I find it completely unconsionable that the RIAA failed to protect the artists rights and make payments when due. Claiming they couldn't find the artists involved is a fabrication of the most fraudulent kind. It's not like David Bowie has fallen off the face of the earth.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by patrick.whitlock (708318) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:19AM (#9072514)
    Does this mean that since the RIAA is out 50 mil... (that THEY diddn't think to give to the rightful owner).... the 50 mil will be deducted from the amount of money made through cd sales so they can whine a bit more about file sharing?
  • Cat and Mouse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:20AM (#9072528)
    Forgive my oversimplification of the RIAA (and Anti-RIAA) tactics, but it seems to me like this is such a cat and mouse game. Someone points out problems with the RIAA, the RIAA points out problems with filesharing. One-Up to P2P, One-Up to RIAA. I'm waiting to see if politics, technology and common sense can elicit some sort of resolution to this perpetual nonsense. I won't hold my breath.
  • coming to terms with the fact that the new-yacht-a-month club is going to have to tone down and make with what they already have.

    A digital robin hood am I, and through my uploading I give to the poor.
  • by southpolesammy (150094) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:22AM (#9072547) Journal
    Prominent artists who were owed royalty payments included: David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, Dave Matthews, Sean Combs and Gloria Estefan.

    Ummm....how exactly do you lose track of your prominent artists? And for that matter, why aren't the agents of these artists banging down the doors at Sony, BMI, Vivendi, EMI, and so forth to get the royalties? IOW, the agents conveniently forgot to collect? Something doesn't sound right here -- when in the history of business has someone not aggressively pursued their debtors?
    • by ExistentialFeline (696559) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:44AM (#9072716)
      This assumes that the artists know they are owed money. If the artists were contacted on a semi-regular basis about payments and the companies occasionally "forgot" about some money it may not be obvious for the artists to ask for the money. IE a check for $2500 could be only half of what they owe but the artist don't know any better since the artist hasn't asked exactly what their debt is; they just know they're owed something.

      Of course as things usually are on /. this is wild speculation.
  • by nuffle (540687) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:24AM (#9072563)
    According to CNN, sales dropped about 7.5% [slashdot.org] from 2002 levels of 32.2 billion to 2003 sales of 32.0 billion. RIAA blames "rampant piracy" for this.

    Therefore, according to RIAA, piracy accounted for 200 million in sales loss. Therefore (unless artists get 25% or more of retail) with this announcement of withholding 50m in royalties from artists, the RIAA itself is personally responsible for more monetary loss to artists than piracy.
    • According to CNN, sales dropped about 7.5% from 2002 levels of 32.2 billion to 2003 sales of 32.0 billion

      Forgive the offtopiccage, but wtf? That's 0.6% not 7.5%. Those are the figures quoted in the article, too, no typos. No wonder these clowns managed to lose $50M with those kinds of math skills...

    • by Matrix272 (581458) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:42AM (#9072707)
      According to CNN, sales dropped about 7.5% from 2002 levels of 32.2 billion to 2003 sales of 32.0 billion. RIAA blames "rampant piracy" for this.

      I'd love to see a comparison of all the years between 1999 and 2003 for sales decreases, number of releases, average age of the buyer, and the cost of a CD. Then, I'd like to see that cross-referenced with the recession in the economy, including such factors as unemployment rates, average income per household, etc. After you have all that, cross-reference all that with what the RIAA claims it's lost from file sharing. I can almost guarantee you it's nothing even near what they're claiming, and any decrease in sales has been just as drastic as any other major industry in the country.
      • Don't forget that many of us have been boycotting them for several years now. That has to hurt as well. It has also helped some independent guys, in my case anyway. It's hard to keep stats for those guys, but I'd like to see if their revenue has increased over that time.
  • Agreed to comply? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Huh? (105485) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:28AM (#9072587)
    The companies have also agreed to comply with New York State's Abandoned Property Law, which requires that if an artist or his or her family cannot be found, unclaimed royalties be "escheated" or turned over to the state.

    I didn't know you had to 'agree' with a law before it was applicable to you. Interesting.

    • I didn't know you had to 'agree' with a law before it was applicable to you.

      Sure you do, in New York, at least. Only a little earlier I was reading how the well-known "email marketing mogul", Scott Richter, is "agreeing to abide by a new federal anti-spam law" [rockymountainnews.com] as a part of a settlement with A.G. Spitzer. Nice to see he's making these naughty people promise to be good in future.

    • If this law only applies to NY, and is worth $50million, how much unpaid royalties exist that should be directed to the other states?

      NY = 1 state = 50million "lost"

      Other = 49 States = 50 * 49 = 2.45 billion?

      Even if the percentage is lower, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

      Note: I'm not american, but doesn't this sound at least reasonable?
  • by Mudcathi (584851) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:28AM (#9072590) Journal
    The RIAA has sued what, 3000 people so far? With an average "catch" of $2500 each? If these numbers are correct, that's $7.5 million. Versus $50 million that RIAA cheated their own artists out of!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Have any of you ever paid a bill slightly (or even very) late? Ever take out a loan, with which you intended to enrich yourself, and then take longer to pay it back than you originally contracted?

    If yes, do you then have the right to criticize the RIAA?

    The fact is, RIAA's actions, though despicable, are ultimately irrelevant to whether or not it is morally acceptable, and/or should be legally acceptable, to copy and distribute someone else's work without authorization, contract or payment arrangement. T
    • >Have any of you ever paid a bill slightly (or even very) late? Ever take out a loan, with which you intended to enrich yourself, and then take longer to pay it back than you originally contracted?

      Never. Even when I had to sell personal property to avoid it, I made a point of honoring my debts on the appointed date. And I am not a fat-rich-corp-guy like the RIAA. In other words: even if I had answered "yes", probably it would have been "because I couldn't, since didn't have the money". Do you think the
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Morals do matter.

      You can't make a claim about filesharing on moral grounds if your own morals are suspect.

      If you're a crook, its hard to take cries of "thief" very seriously.
  • ...paid...they should be paid with interest plus fined/sued for compensation. This is a perfect opportunity to point out that there shouldn't be one rule for consumers and one rule for the conglomerates.
  • by cluge (114877) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:39AM (#9072676) Homepage
    Somwhere at an RIAA office:

    "Hello, kettle it's the pot, line 2, he's says your black"

    cluge
  • by JSkills (69686) <jskills&goofball,com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:42AM (#9072690) Homepage Journal
    The RIAA being a filthy bunch of liars is one thing (in that they continuously ignorethe real statistics in regards to file sharing and CD sales), but it's even worse that they knowingly shame others into doing what they want under the guise of some righteous premise that they themselves are violating to a much greater extent. Ripping off the artists that they're suing everyone else on the behalf of - sickening really.

    Kind of reminds of me of some bigger (cough - Catholic Church) examples (cough - US war effort).

    I'm sure that last bit will get me slammed. There goes my karma =D

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:42AM (#9072697)
    I must point out that it is only individual members of the RIAA, not the RIAA itself, that are responsible for failing to pass on the royalties, and this in no way reflects RIAA policies. It simply shows poor or irresponsible book keeping on the part of the companies involved.

    To pre-empt any ad-hominem replies: I do not like the RIAA's tactics & I was once signed to one of the companies mentioned (BMG). But claiming this is an RIAA act is entirely incorrect, self gratifying FUD, and as we all know, spouting crap in lieu of facts does not make a convincing case. If you want to criticize a system, learn how the system works first.
  • Found one! (Score:3, Funny)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim.almond @ g mail.com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:43AM (#9072708) Homepage
    Hey RIAA!

    Try looking here [dollywood.com]

  • Hilarious! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beforewisdom (729725) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:45AM (#9072722)
    With all of the noxious public actions they have taken it turns out the RIAA is the biggest music music theif of them all.
  • Disingeneous Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by baadfood (690464) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:53AM (#9072796)
    RIAA forgets to pay royalties? From the article it was the RIAA lawyer who brought the problem up. The RIAA member companies were not forgetting to pay anyone. They had lost contact with the artists not through any fault of their own, but because the artists had not updated their contact details. Shite - even evil entities are capable of acts of good. In this case the RIAA did the right thing.
    • by Lochin Rabbar (577821) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:16AM (#9073656)

      Did you read the list of some of the artists they lost contact details for, they included long forgotten one hit wonders like "David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, Dave Matthews, Sean Combs and Gloria Estefan". Now if you believe they couldn't contact these people then you'll believe anything. It's just a typical out of court where the guilty party pays up and in return get to deny all blame i.e. the RIAA are good guys stuff in document is only for the consumption of the legal system and fools.

    • by shark72 (702619)

      Additionally, neither the term "RIAA" or "Recording Industry Association of America" was mentioned in the press release.

      This Rolling Stone article [rollingstone.com] also neglects to mention the term "RIAA" but does cover some of the amounts owed:

      "For some, the payout amounts to a drop in the bucket. The Dave Matthews Band is owed just over $14,000 (its 1996 album, Crash, for instance earned $4,000 that wasn't properly paid), while the $10,700 that Bowie was owed was just for 1997's Earthling. And for other artists, the

  • by Anonymous Cowabunga (738559) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:58AM (#9072854)
    The royalties are nothing to the RIAA, the amount the artists receive are about 50 cents out of the average $15 CD. That's why the organized music industry is so strong--they have an extremely vested interest in keeping this atrocious pricing structure intact. The real reason the internet worries the RIAA is that for the first time, artists (like Prince and Pearl Jam) have the ability to completely bypass this archaic distribution system and sell directly to the consumer, without all the associated markups, and receive a larger piece of the pie. Commercial distribution systems like iTunes are actually closer to traditional CD/vinyl sales, at least in their royalty structure.
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:16AM (#9072981)
    What's the difference? I personally think there should be astronomical fines, terminations and prison time for RIAA executives.
  • Change in My Tactics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by endofoctober (660252) <{jk.cole} {at} {ifredsayred.com}> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:21AM (#9073019) Homepage

    I love music, and used to spend a lot on buying new CDs before this RIAA shakedown started. Stories like this, however, have made me change my ways, and now I buy exactly $0's worth from any label that supports the RIAA [boycott-riaa.com].

    It's appalling to think that this is all done defending artists from file sharers when their watchdog is either this clueless or dishonest...with the RIAA, it's hard to tell which.

    Artists might fare better if they could see an alternative to this corporate mire. Perhaps if they understood that consumers would be more supportive of the music if there was some reasonable guarantee that money would actually get to the artist rather than a conglomerate?

    Granted I have no guarantee of that with [fatpossum.com] my [secretlycanadian.com] current [dimmak.com] label selections, but I feel better knowing that my cash isn't feeding the anti-piracy machine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:22AM (#9073034)
    Time to flush the toliet on the middlemen. Boycott industry music, and roll your own crap. All this talk about the important role of the middle men in choosing good music, and what do we get? Good Charlotte, Britney Spears, Sean Puffy PDiddy Combs? Give me a garage band anyday!
  • by Ride-My-Rocket (96935) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:50AM (#9073348) Homepage
    For example, I've forgotten that I need to be bothered with buying overpriced CDs for the past 8 years. Instead, I've been spending my cash on video games, DVDs, live entertainment and socializing with my friends.

    And sometimes I also forget that I don't need to buy a CD in order to determine whether I like the music. P2P has been gracious enough to keep reminding me of this whenever I feel the urge to go to the nearest Virgin Megastore..........
  • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:02AM (#9073509) Homepage Journal
    Good googolies....I think Stevie Wonder could find her in a room filled with women. But maybe Stevie is another artist they "couldn't find." I'm sure if they'd been downloading MP3s the RIAA could find them just fine, thank you...

    Let's not forget the obligatory:
    1. Charge people waaayyyyy too much for plastic, shiny disks
    2. "Accidentally" lose track of famous artists, one of which lives in a huge amusement park that a 3 year old from Japan could locate
    3. ????
    4. PROFIT!!!!!! YEAH baby, YEAH!!
    *rinse* *lather* *repeat*

    John "Dripping with Irony"

  • It seems to me (without seeing the whole list of artists) that although the RIAA has no excuse for being unable to 'find' the artists listed, the artists listed are consistent performers and no doubt have some leverage to get better terms in their contracts.

    I submit that Dolly has far better terms than some relatively unknown/new/crap band, and probably does rather well with mechanical royalties, and other royalties than the unknown/new/crap band.

    IOW, Dolly is most likely making money in areas that an unknown/new/crap band would not, such as printed sheet music, covers by other artists, film and television, and public performance (musak, etc.).

    That said, it's not surprising that the whore-tards in the RIAA wanted to 'misplace' those extra dollars; what is surprising is that the missing artists' lawyers weren't all over those nickels and dimes in the first place - especially Dolly's lawyers. She likes the money.

    Even more reason to bypass the RIAA. What you lose in enforcement (public performances, radio play) and marketing, you gain in knowing that you are getting the best deal as an artist.

  • Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rixstep (611236) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:16PM (#9075133) Homepage
    I'm glad someone found this story and pointed this out. All along we've considered the 'Napster issue' from an impartial POV when yes, DUH, everyone knows what crooks these recording company execs are, everyone knows at least half a dozen horror stories about how songwriters and performers are getting ripped off all the time. Music is supposed to be nice, and beneficial, and soul-soothing - it's a wonder and a mystery why these lowlifes get into the business in the first place.

    Both David Lindley and Courtney Love have spoken out eloquently against them in the past. I think we should remember who the real villains are here - and that they're not 13yos with a few songs on a hard drive.

Heisenberg may have been here.

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