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Recording Industry Releases Midyear Anti-Piracy Statistics

Numbers Reveal RIAA Initiatives Curb Piracy Online and Off

Washington, DC - The Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) anti-piracy efforts, fortified by an influx of resources, have begun to produce significant results in the Internet and CD-R arenas.

“The investment our members made in anti-piracy efforts this year has begun to show significant returns,” said Frank Creighton, RIAA Senior Vice President and Director of Anti-Piracy. “Our members recognized early on the threat the industry faced by the potential abuses of new technologies emerging in the Internet and optical disc arenas. The allocation of additional resources to battle these threats was both swift and appropriate.”

Hard Line Taken Against Commercial Internet Pirate Sites

The RIAA’s Internet Enforcement team has identified and subsequently removed a growing number of music sites illegally offering copyrighted material via commercial Internet service providers. The number of commercial sites in the U.S. generating DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices in the first six months of 2000 increased by more than 200% over the number of notices sent in all of 1999.

There was also a 28% increase in the number of notices sent to link sites facilitating the downloading of unauthorized files in the first six months of 2000 over the number of notices sent in all of 1999, and a 348% increase in the number of online auctions removed from the internet in the first six months of 2000, compared to the same time period in 1999.

Soundbyting Campaign

The RIAA continues to promote its Soundbyting campaign. Soundbyting started in 1998 with 10 schools participating in the pilot program. Currently, approximately 350 schools participate in the Soundbyting program. The RIAA's SOUNDBYTING Campaign, which includes a kit for university and college administrators as well as a web site, provides the core materials to serve as a framework for discussion of music and the Internet. Its purpose is to raise awareness that reproducing and distributing music illegally is akin to stealing, and such actions have serious ethical and legal consequences.

The RIAA hopes to clearly outline what is allowable and to provide informative material about copyright law through its university and college materials and on the SOUNDBYTING website (www.soundbyting.com).

CD-R Seizures Up Sharply

The number of counterfeit, pirate and bootleg CD-Rs seized in the first part of 2000 grew by nearly 350% over figures released this time last year, netting an unprecedented 539,130 counterfeit/pirate/bootleg CD-R confiscations.

According to Creighton, “in an effort to compliment our historical approach of focusing enforcement efforts at the manufacturing and distribution levels, additional resources have been channeled into programs designed to eliminate the traditional retail venues for this unauthorized product, such as street vendors, retail stores, fleamarkets, and the internet.”

An example of one of these programs is “Operation Clean Streets.” Put into action to address the distribution of unauthorized sound recordings on the streets of New York City, a response team of RIAA investigators, working closely with various New York City law enforcement agencies, have effected 416 arrests during the first half of this year, primarily at the retail level. This is compared to 79 arrests at the retail level, in this region, for the same period last year. The 416 arrests resulted in the confiscation of approximately 400,000 unauthorized CD-Rs.

Across the country, efforts at the manufacturing level did not suffer, with 184 CD-R burners confiscated during the first half of the year. A conservative estimate of the collective manufacturing capacity of these factories would be approximately 6.5 million CD-Rs in one year, representing a potential economic loss to our industry of close to 100 million dollars.

Optical Disc Replicators Continue to Curb Bogus CD Shipment Orders

As a result of continued collaborative efforts on the part of the recording industry and the Optical Disc replication industry, CD plant manufacturers around the country are continuing to implement RIAA’s recommended good business practices to reduce the amount of unauthorized discs hitting the marketplace. The amount of unauthorized CDs confiscated this year dropped to 30,052 from 70,734 in 1999, a nearly 58% reduction over last year’s figures.

“We’re thankful for the cooperation the recording industry has received from CD plant personnel. They take piracy very seriously and together we were able to improve on last year’s progress,” said Creighton. “Many plant employees are scrutinizing each and every order to make sure that only legitimate orders are placed and filled.”

Close to 43,000 CDs [not broken out in attached chart] were prevented from being manufactured or distributed in the U.S. in the first half of 2000 – this number dropped from 1.5 million in 1999. This is evidence that the internal business practices domestic CD plants have implemented sent a clear message to music pirates – fake orders are not accepted.

“The continual decline in illicit orders brought to our attention is a direct reflection of preventive measures that have been put in place by optical disc replicators to include the adoption of RIAA’s recommended business practices,” notes Creighton.

Civil Litigation Activities

On behalf of its member companies, the RIAA initiated civil suits against eight individuals or corporations during the first six months of 2000. These suits were directed against various types of illegal conduct, including precedent setting cases involving the unauthorized creation of commercial music databases (MP3.com) and the deliberate aggregation of links to illegal music downloads (MP3Board.com).

Summary judgment against MP3.com was entered in favor of the plaintiffs in the case on April 28, 2000. BMG, EMI, Sony, and Warner Bros. have settled their cases with the defendant for undisclosed amounts. Universal Music Group has not settled and has recently begun that damages phase of their litigation.

The case against MP3Board.com was recently filed and is currently entering the discovery phase.

RIAA also filed separate suits against Media Group, a California-based CD replication facility and Halland, a California-based CD compilation company. Both companies were involved in manufacturing or causing the manufacture of hundreds of infringing titles

The RIAA is a trade association whose members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States. The Anti-Piracy division of the RIAA investigates the illegal production and distribution of sound recordings that cost the music industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year domestically. Consumers, retailers and replicators can report suspected music piracy to the RIAA by dialing a toll-free hotline, 1.800.BAD.BEAT, or sending email to badbeat@riaa.com or cdreward@riaa.com.


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.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy