Music companies now targeting college students

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By Carlos Macias

By Carlos Macias

As college students we don’t have much money on our hands. With the pens, notebooks, gas needed to get to school, and especially all the books we have to buy, most of us will look for any way to get something, anything, for free.

Free is not a word the music industry likes to hear and the Recording Industry Association of America is making sure students get the message.

It has let go of cracking down on its general population and has narrowed their focus down to colleges and universities to send out complaints against students downloading music illegally off campus networks.

The trade group has gone to the extent of sending out more than 400 pre-litigation settlement letters pointing blame at students that attend universities such as Ohio and Purdue (who have received the most complaints) and pushed the schools to enforce guidelines or restrict uses.

Programs like Bit torrent and eDonkey are some of the programs that the RIAA monitors and make decisions to contact colleges on infringers.

“The fewer infringers at a given school, the less likely infringers at that school will be sued,” said Cary Sherman, President of the RIAA in a recent CPNewsLink Newsmaker Conference.

RCC students are not at great risk to be caught at the moment, but the RIAA is making sure students know that they eventually will get caught as it was just the first set of letters sent out.

The plan is to hit the largest schools where the most students are getting caught and being reported of illegal downloading. By doing so, the RIAA makes sure that students know that it is serious about prosecuting and word of mouth will, in theory, help minimize illegal downloading.

“This was indeed the first wave of pre-lawsuit letters. We’re planning on doing about 400 every month,” Sherman said.

The pre-lawsuit letters are made out to students regardless of how much they download or how often in the RIAA’s effort to let students know that anyone can be found and that it will follow suit.

RCC students should be careful and know that it is possible that they may receive complaints, but they are not being targeted.

During the conference Sherman noted that the RIAA wasn’t doing this for its benefit, but for the artists themselves.

It’s hard to believe that it isn’t doing this solely to save the millions its losing as it benefit greatly from whatever artists make and distribute.

Artists make very little from record labels selling their CDs, but make most of it from being on tour, sponsoring programs, and playing live.

The RIAA has been losing money for quite some time as the Internet has moved up to be the main source of entertainment for most people, especially college students. The RIAA’s push towards people buying CDs at brick-and-mortar stores is antiquated and they need to learn to adapt with the times, or die.

The RIAA should make sure students, its biggest consumers, want to buy CDs by adding extras that are hard to resist and maybe even find a way to make CDs cheaper. CDs are generally $9.99 the week they’re out. If they were to – as I’m sure they shudder to think – make CDs a magical $4.99, they would become an impulse buy and garner better sales.

They could also look into making exclusive deals with Web sites or Person to Person programs to provide incentives for people to buy there, maybe by releasing earlier than retail and get artists’ music out before its able to leak.

The RIAA needs to stop punishing its biggest supporters with lawsuits and spend that time thinking of ways to make buying the newest tracks a better alternative than downloading.

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