The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C. The RIAA was formed in 1952. Its original mission was to administer recording copyright fees and problems, work with trade unions, and do research relating to the record industry and government regulations. Early RIAA standards included the RIAA equalization curve, the format of the stereophonic record groove and the dimensions of 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm records. The RIAA says its current mission includes:
to protect intellectual property rights and the First Amendment rights of artists; to perform research about the music industry; to monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies. Since 2001, the RIAA has spent upwards of six million dollars annually on lobbying in the United States. The RIAA also participates in the collective rights management of sound recordings, and it is responsible for certifying Gold and Platinum albums and singles in the United States.
1 Company structure and sales 2 Sales certification
2.1 "Digital" single certification 2.2 Album certification 2.3 Video Longform certification
3 Efforts against infringement of members' copyrights
3.1 Efforts against file sharing
3.1.1 Selection of defendants 3.1.2 Settlement programs
3.2 The "work made for hire" controversy
4 Executive leadership of RIAA 5 See also 6 References 7 External links
Company structure and sales
Cary Sherman has been the RIAA's chairman and CEO since 2011. Sherman
joined the RIAA as its general counsel in 1997 and became president of
the board of directors in 2001, serving in that position until being
made chairman and CEO.
Cary Sherman (Recording Industry Association of America)
Michele Anthony (Universal Music Group)
Glen Barros (Concord Music Group)
Michael L. Nash (Universal Music Group)
Eric Berman (Universal Music Group)
David Bither (Nonesuch Records)
Ken Bunt (Disney Music Group)
John Esposito (Warner Music Nashville)
Peter Gray (Warner Bros. Records)
Jeff Harleston (Universal Music Group)
Terry Hemmings (Provident Music Group/Sony Music Entertainment)
Sony Music Entertainment Universal Music Group Warner Music Group The RIAA also represents other major record labels such as Atlantic, Capitol, RCA, Warner Bros., Columbia, and Motown. The RIAA reports that total retail value of recordings sold by their members was $10.4 billion at the end of 2007, a decline from $14.6 billion in 1999. Estimated retail revenues from recorded music in the United States grew 11.4% in 2016 to $7.7 billion.
Sales certification The RIAA operates an award program for albums that sell a large number of copies. The program originally began in 1958, with a Gold Award for singles and albums that reach $1,000,000 in sales. The criterion was changed in 1975 to the number of copies sold, with albums selling 500,000 copies awarded the Gold Award. In 1976, a Platinum Award was added for one million sales. In 1989 new criteria were introduced, with a "Gold Award" for singles that reach 500,000 in sales and a "Platinum Award" for singles that reach 1,000,000 in sales; and in 1999 a Diamond Award for ten million sales was introduced. The awards are open to both RIAA members and non-members. Since 2000, the RIAA also operates a similar program for Latin music sales, called Los Premios de Oro y De Platino. Currently, a Disco De Oro (Gold) is awarded for 30,000 units and a Disco De Platino is awarded for 60,000 units, with Album Multi-Platino at 120,000 and "Diamante" for 10x platino. The RIAA defines "Latin music" as a type of release with 51% or more of its content recorded in Spanish.
"Digital" single certification
In 2004, the RIAA added a branch of certification for what it calls
"digital" recordings, meaning roughly "recordings transferred to the
recipient over a network" (such as those sold via the iTunes Store),
and excluding other obviously digital media such as those on CD, DAT,
or MiniDisc. In 2006, "digital ringtones" were added to this branch of
certification. Starting in 2013, streaming from audio and video
streaming services such as
Gold: 500,000 units Platinum: 1,000,000 units Multi-Platinum: 2,000,000 units (increments of 1,000,000 thereafter) Diamond: 10,000,000 units The units are defined as follows:
A permanent digital download counts as 1 Unit 150 on-demand audio and/or video streams count as 1 Unit Latin digital awards:
Disco de Oro (Gold): 30,000 copies Disco de Platino (Platinum): 60,000 copies Disco de Multi-Platino (Multi-Platinum): 120,000 copies Album certification In February 2016, RIAA updated its certification criteria for album to include streaming and track sales using the formula for album-equivalent unit.
Gold: 500,000 units Platinum: 1,000,000 units Multi-Platinum: 2,000,000 units (increments of 1,000,000 thereafter) Diamond: 10,000,000 units For certification purposes, each unit may be one the following:
sale of a digital album or physical album 10 track downloads from the album 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video streams from the album Video Longform certification Along with albums, digital albums, and singles there is another classification of music release called "Video Longform." This release format includes DVD and VHS releases, and certain live albums and compilation albums. The certification criteria is slightly different from other styles.
Gold: 50,000 Platinum: 100,000 Multi-Platinum: 200,000 copies Efforts against infringement of members' copyrights Efforts against file sharing Main article: Trade group efforts against file sharing The RIAA opposes unauthorized sharing of its music. Studies conducted since the association began its campaign against peer-to-peer file-sharing have concluded that losses incurred per download range from negligible to moderate. The association has commenced high-profile lawsuits against file sharing service providers. It has also commenced a series of lawsuits against individuals suspected of file sharing, notably college students and parents of file sharing children. It is accused of employing techniques such as peer-to-peer "decoying" and "spoofing" to combat file sharing. In late 2008 they announced they would stop their lawsuits, and instead attempt to work with ISPs to persuade them to use a three-strike system for file sharing involving issuing two warnings and then cutting off Internet service after the third strike.
Selection of defendants
The RIAA names defendants based on ISP identification of the
subscriber associated with an IP address, and as such do
not know any additional information about a person before they sue.
After an Internet subscriber's identity is discovered, but before an
individual lawsuit is filed, the subscriber is typically offered an
opportunity to settle. The standard settlement is a payment to the
RIAA and an agreement not to engage in file-sharing of music and is
usually on par with statutory damages of $750 per work, with the RIAA
choosing the number of works it deems "reasonable." For cases that do
not settle at this amount, the RIAA has gone to trial, seeking
statutory damages from the jury, written into The Digital Theft
Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 as between
$750 and $30,000 per work or $750 and $150,000 per work if "willful."
Electronic Frontier Foundation
In February 2007, the RIAA began sending letters accusing Internet
users of sharing files and directing them to web site P2PLAWSUITS.COM,
where they can make "discount" settlements payable by credit
card. The letters go on to say that anyone not settling
will have lawsuits brought against them. Typical settlements are
between $3,000 and $12,000. This new strategy was formed because the
RIAA's legal fees were cutting into the income from
settlements. In 2008, RIAA sued 19-year-old Ciara Sauro
for allegedly sharing ten songs online.
The RIAA also launched an "early settlement program" directed to ISPs
and to colleges and universities, urging them to pass along letters to
subscribers and students offering early settlements, prior to the
disclosure of their identities. The settlement letters urged ISPs to
preserve evidence for the benefit of the RIAA and invited the students
and subscribers to visit an RIAA website for the purpose of entering
into a "discount settlement" payable by credit card. By
March 2007, the focus had shifted from ISPs to colleges and
In October 1998, the
Recording Industry Association of America filed a
lawsuit in the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in
The "work made for hire" controversy In 1999, Mitch Glazier, a Congressional staff attorney, inserted, without public notice or comment, substantive language into the final markup of a "technical corrections" section of copyright legislation, classifying many music recordings as "works made for hire", thereby stripping artists of their copyright interests and transferring those interests to their record labels. Shortly afterwards, Glazier was hired as Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel for the RIAA, which vigorously defended the change when it came to light. The battle over the disputed provision led to the formation of the Recording Artists' Coalition, which successfully lobbied for repeal of the change.
Executive leadership of RIAA
United States portal
Center for Copyright Information
Federal Communications Commission
Global music industry market share data
International Intellectual Property Alliance
List of RIAA member labels
Motion Picture Association of America
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External links Official website vteMusic organizations ACA ACF AGI AMA AMC FNCI IFPI IPA PARI PMA RIAA The Record