Joined: Mar 25, 2003
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|Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 7:03 pm Post subject:
Senate's Expansion Of RIAA Antitrust Exemption
Webcaster Alliance Blasts Proposed RIAA-Friendly Legislation
Webcaster Alliance announced today its intention to fight proposed legislation that would expand the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) antitrust exemption.
The announcement is in response to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch's recent introduction of the Enhancing Federal Obscenity Reporting and Copyright Enforcement Act of 2003 (the EnFORCE Act), a bill intended to expand the RIAA's power by broadening the narrow antitrust exemption the RIAA currently enjoys. The EnFORCE Act would expand the existing exemption to cover all compulsory mechanical licenses under section 115 of the Copyright Act.
"A Federal Judge recently approved a $143 million settlement in the CD price-fixing case that was brought against the RIAA's Big 5 record label members," Ann Gabriel, President of Webcaster Alliance said, "Yet here they are attaching additional language to expand their antitrust exemptions to a bill they know most legislators would have a hard time opposing, since it deals with the exploitation of children. This is so typical of the RIAA and their manipulative, smoke and mirrors tactics."
While the new bill has been described by Hatch as "fostering flexibility, certainty, and accountability," Gabriel sees it as merely another attempt for the RIAA to grab more power while masquerading under false pretenses.
Ms. Gabriel said, "Since the initial antitrust exemption was enacted more than eight years ago, the RIAA has done nothing but stifle, legislate against, and prosecute technical innovation in an attempt to secure obscene profit margins for their members at the expense of the consumer. With so little to show from an exemption that has been in place since 1995, why should legislators believe the answers to the RIAA's problems will somehow be solved by expanding the existing antitrust exemptions?"
Gabriel cited several other areas of concern, warning of the dangers if the new bill is passed without removing the antitrust exemption language. "Senator Hatch is claiming this new bill will protect children - but I want to know who in the Senate or in the House of Representatives will step forward to protect the rights of the American consumer? Who will step forward and stop the RIAA from harassing people like Ernest Brenot, a 79 year-old retiree who was issued a subpoena by the RIAA and had to write a handwritten note to a federal judge stating that he does not own a computer nor can he operate one? The RIAA is out of control and if the RIAA succeeds in getting its antitrust exemption expanded, then something is drastically wrong with our system."
Gabriel concluded by saying "The RIAA agenda is patently clear. We have watched the RIAA's actions, including its attempts to threaten and intimidate our members. It is time for the RIAA to be held accountable for years of manipulating an entire industry in order to stifle the growth of independent music and control internet content and distribution channels. Webcaster Alliance will continue to stand up against the RIAA and fight for the American consumers freedom of choice."
To view the Webcaster Alliance pleading against the RIAA please visit: http://www.webcasteralliance.com/docs/WA_complaint.pdf
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