[rumori] RIAA statement and official revised guidelines (fwd)

Peter Conheim [rumori] RIAA statement and official revised guidelines (fwd)
Wed, 2 Sep 1998 00:35:05 -0700 (PDT) (00904721705, Pine.LNX.3.96.980902003347.13936E-100000atspider.webbnet.com)

An actual email from the PRESIDENT and C.E.O. of the R.I.A.A. to "Fans of Negativland", hot off the presses. Forgive cross-postings. Dig.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

September 1, 1998

To: Fans of Negativland

From: Hilary Rosen
President and CEO, RIAA

Re: Sampling and CD Plant Guidelines

The RIAA has received your e-mails on sampling and our CD Plant
Guidelines -- some thoughtful and persuasive, others offensive and
uninformed. The most frustrating e-mails are the ones that purport to be
against piracy, but condemn the RIAA. Protecting artists and record
companies against piracy is our mandate and we're proud of our work. Years
of experience and talent inform the actions of our dedicated staff.

Unfortunately, Negativland, and many of you, believe that our CD
Plant Good Business Practices -- formalized earlier this year into specific
guidelines for CD plants to recognize pirated product -- has had the
unintended effect of prejudicing the group's ability to get their album
pressed. As an organization that has worked tirelessly to protect freedom
of expression, we are gravely concerned about this perception. Our
objective in issuing the CD Plant Guidelines has been to stop piracy, not
artistic expression.

Accordingly, the RIAA has amended its CD Plant Guidelines in
response to your concerns. (The full text is reprinted below.)

In fairness, the issue is a great deal more complicated than first
appears. Negativland claims that its work is protected by the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law, and asks us to draw a legal distinction between
collage and whole-work piracy. Obviously, there is a huge distinction.
But, clearly, not every recording that claims to be a collage is
automatically protected as a "fair use." The dance and exercise music market, for instance, is filled with mixes that are nothing more than clips
of popular recordings strung together with a heavy beat. Are these
collages legitimate? The artists who created the original recordings don't
think so. If our CD Plant Guidelines made a categorical exception for
collages, it would potentially open the floodgate to all types of piratical

The point is that the "fair use" doctrine is not clear cut, but is a set of principles subject more to nuance than fixed rules. The courts,
and not the RIAA, have always been the judge in determining whether any
particular sample is a "fair use." Attempting to carve out a "fair use" exemption from the CD Plant Guidelines is simply not workable and risks
condoning blatant infringements of artists' rights.

Moreover, under well-established copyright law, should a recording
ultimately be determined by a court not to be protected as "fair use," the plant that pressed the discs may be held liable for pressing them. It's
not surprising that CD plants would want to know what their exposure might
be for copyright infringement. You can't blame a plant for taking such a
sensible and reasonable business approach. In similar circumstances, some
parties have agreed to apportion their risk by means of an indemnification
provision, and such an approach may be appropriate where there is
good-faith uncertainty about copyright exposure.

The fact that CD plants are now more careful about what they press
because of our enforcement efforts is good for music fans everywhere.
Piracy hurts artists and fans alike. It feeds off the creative works of
others and limits the investment dollars available for new music.
Hopefully, this step will give bands like Negativland the fair shake they
deserve with CD pressing plants.


The RIAA has amended it's Anti-Piracy Good Business Practices for
CD Mastering and Manufacturing Plants by adding the following language:

"These guidelines are intended to address piracy. Some recordings presented for manufacture may contain -- as part of an artist's work
--identifiable "samples" or small pieces of other artists' well-known songs. In some instances this sampling may qualify as "fair use" under copyright law, and in other instances it may constitute copyright
infringement. There are no hard and fast rules in this area and judgments
on both "fair use" and indemnification must be made on a case-by-case basis. RIAA, therefore, recommends that you decide how to handle such
situations in consultation with your own attorneys."