Where the riaa gets its money

If it was up to the RIAA, nobody would copy music anymore. The funny thing is however, blank media and media recorders bring a lot of money to the RIAA.

You might probably not be aware of this, but every time somebody buys a cd-recorder in the US, $2 goes directly to the RIAA. And even more striking, the RIAA cashes 2% 3% of the money spent on blank media like recordable cd’s.

The RIAA thanks the money to the Audio Home Recording Act (link to riaa site). The AHRA forces manufacturers and importers of digital audio recorders and blank media to pay royalties to the RIAA.

The RIAA is supposed to divide this money among artists (40%) and record labels (60%). However, the artists never see a penny.

Update: Note that the money doesn’t go directly to the RIAA, but to the AARC. However, the RIAA and AARC share office space, and some employees. So for the sake of simplicity… ;) (see comments)

But even if they did get their money, it would be a strange construction. The AHRA dates back to 1992, a time where blank media (cd, minidisk, dat) were mostly used to copy music. Today, 16 years later, people use these disks for other (read personal) uses. 700MB is not what it used to be if you know what I mean.

And this puts the AHRA in a whole other light. Because, even if you buy a couple of cd’s to backup some of your documents, or to store your holiday pictures, you’re paying 2% to the RIAA.

A friend of mine recently produced a cd full of educational movies and info about the AIDS problems in Africa. He spent hours making the CD, and distributed 1000 copies for free, to make school children aware of these problems.

Guess what? The RIAA collected 2%….

Some careful readers pointed out that the law only affect blank music CDR’s so the latter reasoning is incorrect.

But still, it’s strange that the RIAA or AARC collect money, but forbid us to copy music on the other hand. Sounds like a double standard to me. And indeed, this bill was supposed to give consumers the legal right to copy music for non-commercial use. AnonEmouse found some interesting quotes in the congressional record of the floor discussion for the “audio home recording act”.

(Mr. MOORHEAD)
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3204 would make it clear that noncommercial taping of music by consumers is not a violation of copyright law. The debate over home taping of records goes back to 1970 when Congress first extended copyright protection for records but this legislation will end the 22-year-old debate and make it clear that home taping does not constitute copyright infringement.
…
I am not aware of any opposition to this bill. It has the support of industry, the Copyright Office, the consumers and the administration.
I urge your support.

(Mr. HUGHES)
H.R. 3204 removes the legal cloud over home copying of prerecorded music in the most proconsumer way possible: It gives consumers a complete exemption for noncommercial home copying of both digital and analog music, even though the royalty obligations under the bill apply only to digitally formatted music. No longer will consumers be branded copyright pirates for making a tape for their car or for their children.

(Mrs. COLLINS)
This compromise solution was reached through difficult negotiations by a coalition of the recording industry; songwriters and music publishers; electronics industry and groups that want consumers to continue to enjoy the benefits of private home taping.
There are three basic provisions of the legislation. First, it guarantees consumers the legal right to make analog or digital copies of musical recordings for noncommercial use. Also it prohibits lawsuits being brought against those that manufacture, import, or distribute a digital or analog audio recorder or medium.

(Mr. FISH)
At the same time, the bill resolves an issue that has been of great concern to consumers for the last two decades and that is the home taping of music. The bill makes clear that the home taping of music is not a violation of copyright law.

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