In this era of mega-super-star recording artists and multi-platinum albums, it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time when the recording industry was in dire straights. Many have already forgotten the challenges the major labels were up against in the mid-90’s.
Back then, low cost CD burners were just becoming widely available. While the drives were developed for data storage, it didn’t take long for unscrupulous
consumers pirates to figure out that they could use CD burners to copy music CDs.
Piracy quickly became rampant as consumers “backed up” their CD collections and traded disks with friends. The problem was so serious that the major labels began to fear that CD sales would eventually plummet.
Fortunately, the RIAA was on the case. On January 31st, 1997, the organization unveiled a “breakthrough copyright protection system to prevent CD copying through computers“.
As RIAA senior vice president of technology, David Stebbings said at the time:
“Today we have shown that prerecorded CDs can be protected from unauthorized copying on a CD-ROM recorder.”
Always on the cutting edge, the RIAA also announced that the new breakthrough would protect music in the then burgeoning world of cyberspace. According to the RIAA press release:
“In addition to protecting copyrighted sound recordings from duplication on current and future multi-purpose recorders, the RIAA’s system can also restrict unauthorized online distribution.”
I can only imagine the sort of chaos the recording industry might have gone through over the last decade if the RIAA hadn’t been so sophisticated in its understanding of the Internet, and its use of technology.
So, next time you pop your favorite CD into your RIAA approved CD player, pause for a moment and thank the RIAA. Without them we wouldn’t have music. And pirates would rule the world.