RIAA suits must inspire action

MTV “Cribs” be damned, the RIAA insists file-sharing killed the radio star.

Two students at the University were among more than 60 individuals slapped with lawsuits in the Recording Industry Association of America’s latest round against file-sharing. We condemn the music industry’s inefficient and nearsighted solution to music downloading and the inflated penalties for copyright infringement enacted by Congress. But sober minds must prevail – illegally downloading music is still illegal.

As we already know – and as the RIAA refuses to admit – illegal file-sharing will not end soon. The arguments against it are weak at best. RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy told The Minnesota Daily that students who download are causing enormous harm. Lamy reported that thousands of employees have been laid off and royalties are being slashed. Far be it for us to question Lamy’s sources, but has he seen MTV “Cribs” or “The Osbournes” lately?

Even Jessica Simpson, an artist whose work speaks for itself, lives at a level of luxury unknown by 99 percent of the world’s population. While these shows might not reflect the average recording artist, they are powerful images not easily jogged from the college psyche – no matter how hard the RIAA lobbies.

That being said, the RIAA is a tremendously powerful lobbyist. We know downloading music will not starve artists such as Snoop Dogg. And we know they know. Clearly, there’s enough bling on “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle” to feed and clothe all of Los Angeles for months, if it ever came to that. But the RIAA knows students are busy, self-involved, easy targets. Most of us do not vote, write letters to the editor (ahem) or e-mail their senators.

None of the 2,454 lawsuits filed since last summer have gone to trial. This proves we are part and parcel to a dramatic, massive attempt to Teach Us a Lesson. We have not seen tactics this obvious since our parents forced us to sit at the table, long after dinner was over, and finish our peas. We are grown-ups now. Now is not the time to sit idly by and hope the spinning wheel of lawsuits lands on the next residence hall. Sharing copyrighted materials over the Internet is illegal. If you want it to be legal, change the law.