WASHINGTON, DC — The Recording Industry Association of America has announced that it will not seek to defend its members’ copyrights against possible infringement by public performance of MP3 music in taverns (so-called “iPod Nights”). The policy statement came in a Nov. 22 letter to the Amusement and Music Operators Association.
RIAA’s anti-piracy legal affairs counsel Carlos Linares Jr. advised AMOA leaders that the music industry trade group does not believe the effort would be worth the money. Linares also hinted that copyright implications of iPod Nights may be less clear-cut than suggested in a recent legal opinion produced for AMOA by a leading New York law firm.
AMOA president Jim Pietrangelo said the association was “disappointed” by what he termed a “lackadaisical” response. He also questioned why RIAA seemed uninterested in defending copyrights against public performance by iPods when it has adopted an aggressive litigation policy against illegal online file sharing. Pietrangelo said he told RIAA that AMOA wants to work with the record labels to make sure that its members compete on a level playing field. (See the AMOA President’s Corner column in this issue for the full statement.)
Specifically, RIAA’s Linares said: “We have discussed this issue with our member companies. The use of iPods at bars and other facilities raises numerous complex factual and legal issues. Given the many high priority projects currently facing the RIAA in its fight against music piracy, our members are not prepared to direct resources to this issue at the present time.” The iPod Nights phenomenon costs some jukebox operators money, but may not represent a direct threat to music sales by labels. Apple Computers expects iPod sales to top 37 million units worldwide by year’s end.