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
to perform research about the music industry;
to monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies.
Since 2001, the RIAA has spent $2 to $6 million each year 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" sales certification
2.2 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
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.
Mitch Glazier has been the RIAA's senior executive vice president
since 2011. He served as executive vice president for public policy
and industry relations from 2000 to 2011.
Mitch Bainwol served as CEO from 2003 to 2011. He left in 2011 to
become president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The 20-member board of directors is composed of the following record
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)
Craig Kallman (The Atlantic Group)
Kevin Kelleher (Sony Music Entertainment)
Dennis Kooker (Sony Music Entertainment)
Deirdre McDonald (Sony Music Entertainment)
Paul Robinson (Warner Music Group)
Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars)
Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy Entertainment)
Julie Swidler (Sony Music Entertainment)
Will Tanous (Universal Music Group)
The RIAA represents over 1,600 member labels, which are private
corporate entities such as record labels and distributors, and
collectively create and distribute about 90% of recorded music sold in
the United States. The largest and most influential of the members are
the "Big Three":
Sony Music Entertainment
Universal Music Group
Warner Music Group
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.
Main article: RIAA 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" sales 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
YouTube also began to be
counted towards the certification using the formula of 100 streams
being the equivalent of one download,
RIAA certification for singles
therefore no longer represents true sales. In the same year,
the RIAA introduced the Latin Digital Award for digital recordings in
Spanish. As of 2013[update], the certification criteria for these
recordings are as follows:
Gold: 500,000 copies
Platinum: 1,000,000 copies
Multi-Platinum: 2,000,000 copies
Diamond: 10,000,000 copies
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
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.
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
Electronic Frontier Foundation and
Public Citizen oppose the
ability of the RIAA and other companies to "strip Internet users of
anonymity without allowing them to challenge the order in
The RIAA's methods of identifying individual users had, in some rare
cases, led to the issuing of subpoena to a recently deceased
83-year-old woman, an elderly computer novice, and a family
reportedly without any computer at all.
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
San Francisco claiming
Rio PMP300 player violated the 1992 Audio Home
Recording Act. The
Rio PMP300 was significant because it was the
second portable consumer MP3 digital audio player released on the
market. The three judge panel ruled in favor of Diamond, paving the
way for the development of the portable digital player market.
In 2003, the RIAA sued college student developers of LAN search
Phynd and Flatlan, describing them as "a sophisticated network
designed to enable widespread music thievery."
In September 2003, the RIAA filed suit in civil court against several
private individuals who had shared large numbers of files with Kazaa.
Most of these suits were settled with monetary payments averaging
Kazaa publisher Sharman Networks responded with a lawsuit
violated and that unauthorized client software was used in the
investigation to track down the individual file sharers (such as Kazaa
Lite). An effort to throw out this suit was denied in January 2004,
however, that suit was settled in 2006. Sharman Networks agreed to a
global settlement of litigation brought against it by the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA), the International Federation of
Phonographic Industry (IFPI), and the RIAA. The creators of the
Kazaa file-sharing network will pay $115 million to the RIAA,
unspecified future amounts to the MPAA and the software industry, and
install filters on its networks to prevent users from sharing
copyrighted works on its network.
RIAA has also filed suit in 2006 to enjoin digital XM Satellite Radio
from enabling its subscribers from playing songs it has recorded from
its satellite broadcasts. It is also suing several Internet radio
On October 12, 2007, the RIAA sued Usenet.com seeking a permanent
injunction to prevent the company from "aiding, encouraging, enabling,
inducing, causing, materially contributing to, or otherwise
facilitating" copyright infringement. This suit, the first that the
RIAA has filed against a Usenet provider, has added another branch to
the RIAA's rapidly expanding fight to curb the unauthorized
distribution of copyrighted materials. Unlike many of the RIAA's
previous lawsuits, this suit is filed against the provider of a
service who has no direct means of removing infringing content. The
RIAA's argument relies heavily on the fact the Usenet.com, the only
defendant that has been named currently, promoted their service with
slogans and phrases that strongly suggested that the service could be
used to obtain free music.
On April 28, 2008, RIAA member labels sued Project Playlist, a web
music search site, claiming that the majority of the sound recordings
in the site's index of links are infringing. Project Playlist's
website denies that any of the music is hosted on Project Playlist's
On June 30, 2009, The Recording Industry Association of America
prevailed in its fight against Usenet.com, in a decision, that the
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York
ruled in favor of the music industry on all its main arguments: that
Usenet.com is guilty of direct, contributory, and vicarious
infringement. In addition, and perhaps most importantly for future
cases, Baer said that Usenet.com can't claim protection under the Sony
Betamax decision. That ruling states that companies can't be held
liable for contributory infringement if the device they create is
"capable of significant non-infringing uses." Furthermore, the
parties are now headed to federal court for damage assessments and
awards, which could amount to several millions of dollars for the
On October 26, 2010, RIAA members won a case against LimeWire, a P2P
file sharing network, for illegal distribution of copyrighted
works. On October 29, in retaliation, riaa.org was taken offline
via denial-of-service attacks executed by members of Operation Payback
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
Goddard Lieberson 1964–? (president).
Stanley Gortikov circa 1985 (president)
Jay Berman circa 1982 (president)
Hilary Rosen 1998–2001 (president)
Cary Sherman 2001–2011 (president); 2011–present (chairman and
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
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
^ a b "Who We Are". RIAA.
Retrieved on September 13, 2011. "RIAA, 1025 F Street NW, 10th Floor,
Washington, D.C. 20004."
^ "RIAA." Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on
September 13, 2011. "We are located at 1025 F ST N.W., 10th Floor,
Washington, D.C. 20004."
^ "RIAA News Room - RIAA Celebrates 50 Years Of Gold Records - Aug 11,
2008". Riaa.com. 2008-08-11. Archived from the original on August 18,
2008. Retrieved 2010-07-17. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
^ "New Disk Trade Org To Swing Into Action", Billboard Magazine,
September 22, 1951, pages 13 and 20
^ "RIAA phono equalization article by Don Hoglund".
^ "RIAA Standards For Stereophonic Disc Records".
^ "Recording Industry Assn of America: Summary".
Database. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved February 23,
^ "Board & Executives - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
^ "RIAA - About". www.riaa.com. November 2, 2015.
^ "2016 RIAA Shipment and Revenue Statistics RIAA - RIAA". RIAA.
^ RIAA Website. "Gold and Platinum (Index)". Archived from the
original on March 8, 2007.
^ a b "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Archived from
the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
^ RIAA Website. "Gold and Platinum Certification".
^ "RIAA News Room – RIAA Launches "Los Premios de Oro y De Platino"
to Recognize Top Latin Artists". riaa.com. January 25, 2000. Retrieved
February 15, 2011.
^ a b "RIAA Updates Latin Gold & Platinum Program". RIAA. December
20, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
^ "RIAA Adds Digital Streams To Historic Gold & Platinum Awards".
^ Alex Pham (May 9, 2013). "Exclusive: On-Demand Streams Now Count
Toward RIAA Gold & Platinum". Billboard.
^ "Billboard.com Latest Video Longform Certifications". Archived from
the original on May 19, 2008. Retrieved May 14, 2008. CS1 maint:
BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Retrieved on May 14, 2008
^ "Microsoft Word - FileSharing_March2004.doc" (PDF). Retrieved July
^ A Heretical View of
File Sharing, by John Schwartz, The New York
Times, April 5, 2004
^ Siwek, Stephen E. The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the
U.S. Economy (2007) IPI Policy Report 188, 2007, 6–10.
The Register (January 17, 2003). ""I poisoned P2P networks for the
RIAA" – whistleblower". Retrieved April 23, 2009.
The Register (March 18, 2003). "RIAA chief invokes Martin Luther
King in pigopoly defense: P2P poisoning, ISP clampdown justified".
Retrieved April 23, 2009.
^ Slattery, Brennon (December 19, 2008). "RIAA Stops Suing
Individuals: Are We Home Free?". PCWorld. Retrieved January 27,
^ "UNLIMITED CMU Verizon backtrack on three-strike disconnect
claim". Newsblog.thecmuwebsite.com. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
CBS News (December 27, 2005). "Mom Fights Recording Industry".
Retrieved April 2, 2007.
^ "Citing Right to Anonymity Online, ACLU Asks Boston Court to Block
Recording Industry Subpoena" (Press release). American Civil Liberties
Union. September 29, 2003. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
^ "Record Industry Cuts Corners in Crusade Against File-Sharers"
(Press release). Public Citizen. February 2, 2004. Retrieved April 3,
^ I sue dead people, Ars Technica, February 4, 2005.
^ "Grandmother piracy lawsuit dropped". BBC News. September 25, 2003.
Retrieved April 3, 2007.
^ RIAA sues computer-less family, by Anders Bylund, Ars Technica,
April 24, 2006.
^ Meg Marco (March 2007). "RIAA Bullies College Students With
^ a b Read, Brock (March 16, 2007). "Record Companies to Accused
Pirates: Deal or No Deal?". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
p. A31. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
^ "Teen Transplant Candidate Sued Over Music Downloads".
thepittsburghchannel.com. December 9, 2008.
^ "RIAA Adopts New Policy, offers Pre-Doe settlement option if ISP
Holds Logs Longer, Asks ISP's to Correct Identification Mistakes"
Recording Industry vs. The People, February 13, 2007.
^ "RIAA targets university students" (Variety.com)
Recording industry battles piracy" by Elizabeth Lauten, The East
Carolinian (East Carolina University), April 4, 2007
^ Court OKs Diamond Rio MP3 Player, by Elizabeth Clampet,
InternetNews.Com, June 16, 1999
^ Borland, John. "RIAA sues campus file-swappers – CNET News".
News.cnet.com. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
^ "The Heights – Record industry sues Flatlan operators".
Media.www.bcheights.com. Retrieved July 17, 2010. [permanent dead
^  Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Sharman Networks settles
Kazaa file-sharing lawsuits". Ars
Technica. July 27, 2006. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
^ XM Faces The Music In RIAA Copyright Suit Archived June 13, 2006, at
the Wayback Machine., by Joseph Palenchar, TWICE, May 22, 2006
^ RIAA sues Internet radio stations, Out-Law.com, July 2001
^ Sandoval, Greg (April 28, 2008). "RIAA files copyright suit against
Project Playlist". News.cnet.com. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
^ Sandoval, Greg (December 17, 2011). "RIAA triumphs in Usenet
^ Jennings, Richi (July 2, 2009). "Usenet.com loses MP3 copyright
lawsuit vs. RIAA". www.computerworld.com. Computerworld. Retrieved
December 26, 2017.
^ "RIAA Wins: LimeWire Shut Down By Court Order".
www.kerryonworld.com. October 27, 2010.
^ Thomas Mennecke (October 29, 2010). "RIAA and LimeWire Both are
^ Wired (August 10, 2000). "Rule Reversal: Blame It on RIAA".
Retrieved April 9, 2007.
^ "RIAA Accounting: Why Even Major Label Musicians Rarely Make Money
From Album Sales".
^ Eric Boehlert (August 28, 2000). "Four Little Words". Salon.
Retrieved October 9, 2009.
^ Barry Willis (October 29, 2000). "Clinton Signs Repeal of "Works for
Hire" Law". Stereophile. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
^ Pub.L. 106–379
Goddard Lieberson Named Head of Record Association". New York
Times. January 22, 1964. Retrieved August 25, 2012. Goddard Lieberson,
head of Columbia Records, was elected president of the Record Industry
Association of America yesterday. ...
Cary Sherman Bio". RIAA. Retrieved March 3, 2014.