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RIAA: We're Turning The Corner On Industry, Fan Relations

May 30, 2007

Mitch Glazier is the senior vice president of government regulations and industry relations for the Recording Industry Association of America.

He's just been interviewed by The 463, a Washington, D.C.- centered technology regulation and legal blog.

While admitting that his group has received its share of villification, Glazier says that the RIAA has better relations with the music industry - and music fans than in the Napster years of 1999-2002.

He addresses some of these perspectives specifically.

Glazier says:

We’re in a better place.  Like every relationship, it’s complicated and we have definitely matured together.  When you think of what the record companies went through – changing almost every aspect of their business model for digital releases (which, despite legitimate criticism, can never happen overnight), giving up distribution, and gaining legal clarity – the Napster years almost seem like ancient history.  The early years were rocky but the obvious interdependence, the Supreme Court decision in Grokster and the desire of tech companies to get exclusive distribution contracts has forged an understanding that didn’t exist before.  Despite several threats to break up, I think we’re going to make it.

Next, Glazier is asked about any changes in the way the RIAA is being received by music fans.

Glazier then offers this perspective:

Some will always view RIAA as a monolithic enforcer that wants to stop the technology revolution that is giving music back to the people and harness the digital world so the evil establishment can control it.  Or something like that.  One time after I finished speaking to students at a University a guy with a Linux t-shirt told me I was responsible for killing the Internet and asked me how I felt about it.  All I could say was, “Not too bad.” The truth, of course is that the RIAA is full of some of the most committed, hard-working music lovers you could ever meet who have the tough job of trying to help the industry protect its creative property and adapt to new challenges.  From statutory licensing and music publishing rules to enforcement and First Amendment protection, RIAA has been at the forefront of change that will determine how to keep music an art in which people still want to invest in the digital marketplace.  It’s been great to be in the middle of it, even if it hasn’t felt so great sometimes.

Once the digital transition is more complete and understood, and the debate is sorted out to the satisfaction of consumers, I think the need for a punching bag will fade, the Linux t-shirt will be traded in for a Linux briefcase, and EFF will start running the creative commons.

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