Napster & The RIAA

Written by July 28th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

As part of its 15th anniversary celebration this year, Wiredmagazine has been re-interviewing some of the individuals highlighted in the magazine’s classic feature stories in order to catch up on what has changed in their respective industries since the original date of their interview printing. For the month of July, Wired talked with Hilary Rosen, former chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, who was profiled upon her exit from the position in 2003. During her tenure, Rosen worked to halt the digital revolution, and she is now armed with five years of hindsight, able to provide some surprising comments about her actions.

When asked about the now infamous $1 billion dollar deal spread over five years that Napster offered to the big five record companies to settle a lawsuit brought by the RIAA, Rosen supported the record companies’ decision not to take the offer. She explained her comment further by claiming, “I don’t know if that particular deal is the one that should have been done,” before adding, “I do firmly believe that the record companies should have made a deal.”

In a separate question regarding her decision as the head of the RIAA to sue Napster,Rosen provided another puzzling answer saying, “the precedent needed to be set” while, at the same time, claiming that she “thought the service was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.”

At the end of her interview, Rosen expressed regret caused by a far too lengthy period of realization by the technology community and the music industry “to see their common interests in upgrading the consumer experience with legitimate higher-quality music and artist participation in the extra content that fans wanted.” Having spent her last years at the RIAA attempting to encourage this partnership, she utilized the magazine interview as an opportunity to express the pleasure it gives her to know that finally,“it is happening.”


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