The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents “the recording industry” in the United States. Not everybody in recording industry, but they claim members “create, manufacture, and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States,” so a lot of the recording industry, at least when it comes to volume of music sold.
The RIAA’s current mission includes:
- Protecting intellectual property rights and the First Amendment rights of artists
- Doing research related to the music industry
- Monitoring and reviewing relevant laws, regulations, and policies
Part of “protecting intellectual property rights” of artists is looking for podcasts who are illegally using music, so if that’s you, you or your media hosting company can expect to eventually get a letter like this one:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am contacting you on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA) and its member record companies. The RIAA is a trade association whose member companies create, manufacture and distribute approximately eighty-five (85) percent of all legitimate sound recordings sold in the United States. Under penalty of perjury, we submit that the RIAA is authorized to act on behalf of its member companies on matters involving the infringement of their sound recordings, including enforcing their copyrights and common law rights on the Internet, and including with respect to the copyrighted works identified below.
We have learned that your service is operating and/or hosting the below-referenced infringing website(s) on its network. These site(s) are offering files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use, including without limitation those referenced at the URL(s) below. We have a good faith belief that this activity is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. We assert that the information in this notification is accurate, based upon the data available to us.
We are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping this unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove the files from your system, including any mirrored or duplicate copies of those files, and/or that you disable all access to the infringing files and associated links, and that you inform the uploader(s) and/or site operator(s), as applicable, of the illegality of his or her conduct.
We also ask that you consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the uploader(s) and/or site operator(s)' conduct (as applicable), and whether that conduct violates your terms of service and/or your company's repeat infringer policy.
This e-mail does not constitute a waiver of any right to recover damages incurred by virtue of any such unauthorized activities, and such rights as well as claims for other relief are expressly retained. In addition, our use of your service's required notice form, if applicable, is merely meant to facilitate removal of the infringing material listed below and is not meant to suggest or imply that your activities and services are within the scope of the DMCA safe harbor.
You may contact me at RIAA, 1000 F Street NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20004, Tel. (202) 775-0101, or by e-mail at [email protected], to discuss this notice. We await your response.
Online Content Protection
Don’t Die On This Hill – Trust Me
Several years ago, I ended up in Federal Court for a copyright claim. Trust me when I say that it’s not a place you want to be, even if you’re on the right side of things.
I spent over 20 years in the music business doing marketing and even more when you consider my time as a musician and my time focused on musician-related content for broadcast radio and podcasts. During that time I’ve worked with several artists, publishing companies, and others who have been involved in similar copyright dispute situations.
Sometimes you can’t avoid a dispute – that was my situation. But it could have been settled without going to court.
For most podcasters, you can avoid a copyright dispute completely.
How? Avoid using music you don’t have a license for, even if you’re just using it for a few seconds or you think “fair use” applies.
If you don’t have something in writing that shows you have the 100% legal right to use the music you’re using, find different music to use.
Royalty-Free Music Options For Podcasters
Here are some “royalty-free” music resources where you can find 100% legal music for your podcast:
YouTube Audio Library (free, but everybody and his brother uses it)