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Recording Industry Association of America

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade group representing the US recording industry.

The RIAA has been the subject of much controversy. Its attempts to defend the interests of its members have been viewed by some as detrimental to the interests of both consumers and performers, and benefitting only the large record labels which comprise the RIAA. Opponents of the RIAA claim that it is a cartel which colludes to artificially inflate and fix prices for CDs. Such allegations note that the Big Six (BMG[?], EMI, Polygram[?], Sony, Universal, and Warner) distribute at least 95% of all music CDs in Western society.

Hilary Rosen was named president and chief executive officer of the RIAA in January, 1998. Rosen has been an outspoken critic of peer to peer file sharing of copyrighted mp3 files on the Internet, and under her direction, the RIAA has waged a long and mostly unsuccessful effort to halt such trading. On January 22, 2003, Rosen announced that she will resign at the year's end to spend more time with her family. Music industry sources indicated that many executives have been unhappy with Rosen's failed efforts to abate music piracy online, and her outspoken hardline demeanor towards filesharing, which has alienated many consumers and even some artists.

The digitisation of music and the availability of inexpensive digital communications and file-swapping technologies has led to a crisis of confidence for the recording industry. Some people believe that these technologies may remove the need for physical distribution of recorded music altogether, threatening the existence of many of the large conglomerates that currently dominate the marketing and distribution of music. The RIAA has responded using legal attacks against piraters.

The RIAA has sought to protect its members' interests by political lobbying for changes in copyright and criminal law, and by litigation under existing laws. As a result, the RIAA's members now have special laws enacted in the United States to protect and reinforce their business models. These include the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These laws are helping them to sue many large P2P file-sharing networks.

The RIAA's extreme unpopularity with certain segments of the Internet community has made its website a popular target for malicious hackers, and it has been repeatedly broken into and defaced.

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