The Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, announced Sunday that it is dropping all lawsuits directed against illegal file sharers.
“We’ve come to our senses and realized that it’s time to create a business model that embraces technology,” said RIAA chief executive Mitch Bainwol. “These lawsuits have created a public-relations disaster for the RIAA, and it’s time to mend fences.”
As part of the decision, the RIAA will refund settlements paid out by file sharers over the past 10 years, and create a national fund to help promote peer-to-peer awareness and education in U.S. public schools. The RIAA also plans to meet with the creators of major peer-to-peer file services to apologize for past behavior. Napster’s Shawn Fawning is first on the list, Bainwol said.
Meanwhile, the RIAA will continue to work with the major labels to come up with revenue models similar to Apple’s iTunes that will offer a succesful alternative to piracy. Consumers might soon purchase all their music on USB thumb drives, similar to the popular “Barenaked on a Stick” album released by Barenaked Ladies in 2005.
“The whole concept is about added value,” Bainwol said. “People are more likely to pay for music and videos when they offer more than what their pirated counterparts have.”
Similar to DVD releases that offer a wealth of extra content and items such as head busts, cloth maps and other knick knacks, albums released by the major labels might include extra features that cannot be physically copied in order to convince consumers to take out their wallets.
“The time has come to put aside our differences and look to the future,” Bainwol says. “Otherwise, the RIAA might soon become irrelevant.”