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News Releases

RIAA Highlights Russian Service VKontakte, Others In Report To U.S. Government About Markets Rife With Music Theft

October 26, 2011
Megaupload, China's Sohou/Sogou MP3 Also Named

WASHINGTON (Oct. 26) – In a filing with the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office today, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) outlined how Russian social network site VKontakte and its unlicensed music service is increasingly undermining the growth of the international legitimate music marketplace.

 

As part of its submission on “notorious markets” -- both physical and online markets whose businesses are primarily driven by the illegal sales or downloads of unauthorized music – the music trade association highlighted Russia’s most popular online social network. According to the RIAA’s filing, the service’s music functionality is “specifically designed to enable members to upload music and video files, hundreds of thousands of which contain unlicensed copyright works. Its dedicated content search engine enables other members to search and instantly stream unlicensed music and movies, giving VKontakte an unfair competitive edge over other social networks that do not offer free access to unlicensed material.” VKontakte has more than 120 million users, currently ranking among the most visited sites in Russia and is among the 50 most visited in the world, according to online rankings.

 

The RIAA highlighted other services and markets in its report, including China’s Sohou/Sogou, which operates a service called “Sogou MP3” that provides easy, quick access to links – for streaming or download -- of music files from unlicensed sources. Sogou is no neutral or passive search engine that simply delivers results at the request of its users. Rather, it is actively involved in the manipulation of its database of unlicensed music by, for example, creating various categories of charts including “Albums Top100”, “New Songs Top100”, “Songs Top100”, “New Single Pre-Release”, “US/Europe Chart”, “Japan/Korea Chart”, “UK Chart” or “US Billboard Chart.”

 

“What’s particularly offensive about some of these companies is that they intentionally launch music services without any form of licensing as a cynical ploy to gain market share and make more money on the back of artists, labels, songwriters and everyone else involved in the music community,” said Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International. “Some of the firms we’ve highlighted have even announced plans to launch U.S.-based IPOs. No company dependent on a theft-based business model deserves the backing of the U.S. capital markets or the approval of the financial regulatory agencies.”

 

Also included in the RIAA filing -- online content distribution hubs (sometimes known as “cyberlockers”) that are extensively involved in the storage and trading of copyrighted works. Notorious services such as MegaUpload thumb their noses at international laws, all while pocketing significant advertising revenues from trafficking in free, unlicensed copyrighted materials. The services are directly engaged in the storage and distribution of infringing materials without having employed reasonably available tools or practices to limit their role in such illegal activity. For many of these services, there would be no economic viability in the absence of engaging in digital theft. In its filing, the RIAA singled out MegaUpload and other similar hubs as “notorious markets” rife with illegal music, movies and other copyrighted works.

 

A full copy of the RIAA’s submission to USTR is available upon request.

 

CONTACTS: Jonathan Lamy (jlamy@riaa.com), Cara Duckworth (cduckworth@riaa.com) or Liz Kennedy (lkennedy@riaa.com): 202-775-0101

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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


House Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Protect American IP Jobs

October 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today welcomed the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of bipartisan legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, designed to provide the Department of Justice with meaningful tools to prevent offshore "rogue" sites from offering access to illicit and counterfeit American products. The legislation was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Democratic Member John Conyers, Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and former Subcommittee Chairman Howard Berman. The House Judiciary Committee announced a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act on November 16, 2011.

 

The bill serves as the chamber’s counterpart to similar legislation in the Senate known as the PROTECT IP bill. The PROTECT IP legislation was introduced by Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and currently has 34 bipartisan co-sponsors.

 

Upon the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA, offered the following statement:

 

“Whether you’re in a taxicab in Paris, a hotel in Calcutta or a restaurant in Tokyo, American music can be heard the world over. The global appeal of American music is also a prime reason that rogue operators set up shop overseas and offer easy access to illegal downloads that pay nothing to creators and result in thousands of lost jobs and fewer opportunities for aspiring musicians.

 

“This legislation is a first step towards a brighter day when these rogue offshore websites can no longer duck accountability under U.S. laws, all the while providing a critical boost to the marketplace for legal digital music services. The Smith bill sensibly requires relevant parties to work together to address the collateral damage caused to everyone involved in legitimate online commerce and appropriately complements other voluntary efforts already underway. Notably, the bill also allows reasonable flexibility for ISPs in determining the most appropriate technological manner for blocking illegal sites and provides ample legal safeguards for sites accused of infringement.

 

“This bipartisan effort serves as another example of the broad and borderless role that intermediaries can play in discouraging digital theft. If the extensive and growing support for its companion Senate bill is any indication, policymakers, labor unions and American businesses across every industrial sector have all embraced the sensible approach of holding rogue websites accountable. We commend Chairmen Smith and Goodlatte, Ranking Members Conyers, Congressman Berman, and the co-sponsors for their leadership and we look forward to working with both House and Senate leaders on a cohesive and common sense way forward that most meaningfully tackles the problems caused by rogue sites.”

 

CONTACTS: Jonathan Lamy (jlamy@riaa.com), Cara Duckworth (cduckworth@riaa.com) or Liz Kennedy (lkennedy@riaa.com): 202-775-0101

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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


RIAA Applauds Passage Of South Korea, Colombia & Panama Free Trade Agreements

October 13, 2011
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WASHINGTON – Last night Congress approved legislation to implement Free Trade Agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Below is a comment from Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on the approval:

“We are extremely pleased that Congress has now endorsed these Free Trade Agreements, paving the way for their implementation in Korea, Panama and Colombia. International markets are vital to the U.S. music industry, and we strongly support the negotiation of trade agreements that protect intellectual property, lower market access barriers to U.S. creative products and services, and promote legitimate electronic commerce. 

“America’s music sector has been badly affected by piracy for decades. Today we face a problem of unprecedented scale. While the digital revolution has created new ways for us to reach consumers with compelling products and content, this same technology has also facilitated the work of those who profit from stealing ideas, innovation and creativity. Achieving enhanced global standards of copyright protection and enforcement, ensuring meaningful market access, and developing trade disciplines that keep pace with technological development are all central to our ability to remain competitive and to continue to ensure good jobs for America’s creative community. We strongly support continuing efforts to pursue simultaneous liberalization and the strengthening of intellectual property protections through bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade negotiations.

“For decades, the expansion of trade and the protection of intellectual property have been cornerstones of a bipartisan economic policy. Our country’s economic competiveness, and the ability of our companies to lead and to create employment, will depend upon our continued success. We commend Congress for this important action and look forward to working with our Korean, Panamanian and Colombian trade partners after the President signs these historic agreements into law.”

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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


RIAA Reaction To The Passing Of Steve Jobs

October 06, 2011
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WASHINGTON – Below is a comment from Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on the passing of Steve Jobs: 

“Like all music fans, we are saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs.  Steve was a larger-than-life personality – passionate about music and one of its biggest fans and advocates.  He was a true visionary who forever transformed how fans access and enjoy music.  With the introduction of the iTunes software and other platforms, Steve and Apple made it once again easy and accepted to pay for music.  His legacy will live on, long past his all-too-short time on earth.” 

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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


RIAA Commends Progress On South Korea, Colombia, Panama Free Trade Agreements

October 03, 2011
Calls for Swift Congressional Action

WASHINGTON – President Obama today submitted to Congress the legislation for pending Free Trade Agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Below is a comment from Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on the submission:

“We are very pleased that the President has sent the South Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade Agreements to Congress, and we urge Congress to take them up as quickly as possible. We are hopefully approaching the finish line for these market-opening agreements. They will help to create greater stability and order in the music markets in Korea, Panama and Colombia, and will help to pave the way towards greater global harmonization of copyright regimes to facilitate legitimate online commerce through global media. Agreements such as these are critical building blocks in establishing the rule of law on the Internet, and in helping cultural communities realize the potential of the Internet to drive legal consumption.”

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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