By now most American music buyers have heard the acronym RIAA, which, of course, stands for the Recording Industry Association of America. Their propensity to file lawsuits has made them infamous here in the states. Now, the record labels are expanding their litigation strategy across the world under a different acronym that may become just as familiar.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced that they've just filed over 8,000 lawsuits in 17 countries for alleged file sharing. You'd think an association representing so many allegedly creative people would have a catchier name? Anyway, the IFPI says that the new suits bring the total number of legal actions outside the US for illegal downloading to more than 17,000. That's a lot of paper!
The biggest alleged violators are the good folks down in Brazil. The IFPI says Brazilians (or at least people using IP addresses linked to that country) illegally downloaded over a billion tracks last year. When you get up in that range, you're starting to talk about "real money" now. Interestingly, as is the case in the U.S., the parents of the kids who are actually doing the downloading are being named in the suits.
There are legit ways to buy mp3s and they are still reasonably priced. I don't agree with suing fans, but I've also never illegally downloaded a song. If you are unfamiliar with the heavy fines available you may want to rethink that next download. For those still living at home, it may be quite unpleasant around the dinner table if you get your parents whacked with a big fine and lawyer bills. I imagine that allowance raise you've been lobbying for would immediately be taken off the table. The IFPA says that in Argentina, one mother forced her son sell his car to pay her back the fee she paid as part of a legal settlement brought on by his downloading. Ouch!
Once cars and money start getting taken away, the question quickly becomes -- is that free song worth it? I'm thinking ... no.