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Is the RIAA like the mob?

tommyTwoThumbs.jpgAccording to a lawsuit filed against the Recording Industry Association of America, yes, the RIAA is like the mob. At least, the lawsuit alleges violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, the law often used to prosecute gangsters (there are also claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act). The lawsuit stems from the RIAA’s recent anti-pirate methodology of tracking down folks who download and share illegal mp3s, and trying to sue them into submission (in the past four years, the RIAA has filed over 21,000 lawsuits relating to illegal music downloads).

Tanya Andersen, a disabled single mom, says that the RIAA knows that its methods are “flawed” yet it proceeds to file lawsuits against innocent folk anyway. She claims she was one such person wrongfully accused, but that there are many others, which is why she’d like to see the lawsuit turned into a class action. Essentially, she says the RIAA is practicing a modern form of thumb breaking:

For years, the RIAA and its member companies have been using flawed and illegal private investigation information as part of their coordinated scheme and common enterprise to threaten, intimidate and coerce payment from private citizens across the United States. As such they have clogged and abused the federal courts for many years with factually baseless and fraudulent lawsuits.

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The RIAA lawsuits are an interesting exercise in determining whether modest legal gains can outweigh catastrophic public relations losses or, for that matter, rescue a declining industry or breathe new life into an obsolete business model. Litigation can accomplish many things, but probably not as much as the recording industry needs to save its preferred business model in the digital age.

Notwithstanding, what's with the picture? Isn't that Churchill? While he was undoubtedly a great Prime Minister, journalist, and historian and an all-around swell guy, I don't recall reading that he was either a mobster or a recording industry insider back in the day. Perhaps he was and I just never knew because Manchester never got around to writing the last volume of his Churchill biography?