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Scary Moments Involving The RIAA

Josh Feldman is a writer and podcast DJ from a suburb outside of Washington, D.C. On his podcast, The Sideswipe he talks about the music industry and other occurrences in the entertainment world. Holla Back at Josh on twitter @Jazzyfeldzle.

Less than 24 hours ago, a friend of mine (lets call him Frank) received a very cryptic phone call. It was an automated message machine claiming to be from the RIAA, the “Recording Industry Association of America” more notably known for the organization which sues the pants off anyone for illegally downloading or public use of songs without permission. The RIAA was calling Frank to tell him that there were in an excess of 30 cases of music piracy linked to his computer.

He is being threatened to court to pay upwards to millions of dollars and can state his defense on an automated message machine. The RIAA was founded in 1952 in order to administer the RIAA equalization curve, a technical standard of frequency response applied to vinyl records during manufacturing and playback. Years later, the RIAA has continued to participate in creating and administering technical standards for later systems of music recording and reproduction. The RIAA also participates in the process of music licenses and royalties with ASCAP. Finally, the association is responsible for certifying gold and platinum albums and singles in the USA

The RIAA lists its goals as:

  1. To protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists;
  2. To perform research about the music industry;
  3. To monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies.”

The RIAA has been known for suing the likes of KAZAA (file sharing network), Allofmp3.com, and even XM Satellite Radio for millions of dollars in damages. After receiving this phone call, Frank came over to my apartment and started freaking out. He was not sure what sort of evidence that had against him. For about an hour he was crapping himself calling his dad and calling lawyers.

Frank wants to get into the music business, and although innocent until proven guilty, Frank would be permanently “Black Balled” from the industry. He called his dad, asking him to call the RIAA for more information. Almost immediately, Frank got a phone call again from a different number stating the exact same message. He told his dad the phone number and as I heard from the other room I knew something was off. I called the RIAA last semester during my entertainment law class. This was not their number, but it could be just an automated call bank separate from their existing number. I was on the case!

I started to research RIAA tactics and of course I couldn’t get what they do now besides sending subpoenas but I did find out that they use drones (robots) to find out where illegal downloads are taking place. Also at one point they did use phone calls but it seemed more like a scare tactic like a cease and desist letter. I also found many different forums where people posted similar issues. I asked Frank what the two numbers were that he received. He read them off and I decided to Google them only to find out one was an art firm which sells paintings from Zurich and the other was an accounting firm both from NYC. Back to the search, and I found a forum where someone responded saying it sounds like “Prank Dial” written all over it.

Prank Dial is a website where people can send pranks to anyone’s phone and type a number to send it from. As we were going out to dinner soon, I told him it was probably a prank but just to be sure let’s try and find a clip. After testing the website and finding some “Dark Vader” and “Fart Joke” pranks, I found it. On the bottom of the site, low and behold was an internet piracy prank. I clicked the preview for the clip and he starting screaming. Turns out it was RAAA, which doesn’t exist in the music industry and….It was a prank!

Next time, when you try and prank your friends using Prank Dial, make sure they 1) pick a phone number that might be a law firm or the RIAA; 2) you don’t do it at all. A prank like this is sick and twisted. Not to mention that using a parody of the RIAA in an instance like this could be a future case of defamation of character.

Josh Feldman Music for me isn’t just an extension to my life. Music is sewn into my soul. Since I was born, music and performing arts have always been lodged into that section of my brain reserved for my creativity. And since then it has never left. My friends and family have described me as a musical cowboy. Using my ipod as a gun and my pocket as my trusty holster. There really isn’t a single form of music that I don’t have some sort of respect for. …see full bio

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3 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by worldthreat posted September 16, 2010 at 11:10

    LOL! i fell for this.. This site was the first link in my quest for the truth. Thanks for the insight! Too bad i sabotaged my own demonoid account after the phone call!

  • Comment by NoNamebutthankful posted November 16, 2010 at 20:36

    Thanks for this. There are some real jerks out there that use this to harass people and they should be sent to jail for it.

  • Comment by riaa sucks posted April 27, 2012 at 09:03

    riaa: Ridiculous Ignorant Arrogant A-holes since 1952