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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Warning - this column may contain absurd, random song lyrics. You may be under investigation for illegally downloading music on campus. And wait, you may be one of the students or personnel the Recording Industry Association of America plans to serve with a lawsuit. "I don?t want to lose your love tonight," but UF is one of 58 universities nationwide receiving these pre-litigation letters from the RIAA as a part of its "education and deterrence campaign." Mo? illegal downloading, mo? problems.

The RIAA created the campaign to give those accused of stealing music a chance to pay their debt to the copyright kings at a discounted price. Tell me RIAA, "why?d you have to go and make things so complicated?" We were "sitting, waiting, wishing" you believed in free music. The RIAA states that taking legal action protects artists, allowing them to stay fresh to def. In other words, it will bust a cap in your wallet if it catches you downloadin' dirty. So, student or staff member targeted by the lawsuit, no one knows who you are, but everyone knows you're in over your head.

Thrown by my inclusion of meaningful, well-placed lyrics? I thought so. In that case, I'll break it down. The RIAA recently sent out pre-litigation letters to universities throughout the nation to notify students or faculty members of the pending lawsuits against them. The RIAA plans to royally spank these despicable downloaders for the trouble they caused. By spank I mean sue offenders for possibly thousands of dollars. Students, you've been very naughty, and lawsuits are a major buzzkill.

We really should feel sorry for artists. I know if I had the audacity to illegally download - let's say a 50 Cent song - I'd experience the unfamiliar sting of guilt piercing my soul. How do people who participate in the horror of illegal downloading live with themselves? I shudder at the thought of those base college students and faculty reaping the benefits of free, illegal music while artists such as 50 Cent sit in their Hummer limousines, sipping Cristal, flaunting their bling and grilling bystanders with their grillz. It's almost unbearable to imagine. Or maybe it's just really funny to imagine. What's funnier than Cristal, bling and grillz? Oh right, the music industry?s self-righteous, victimized attitude.

I can't help but mock the RIAA's crusade against music thieves. As the current trend in the music industry is bringing sexy back - which was never really dormant in the first place - the sexual exploitation of extremely young up-and-coming stars is appalling. I could go on for hours about how we can attribute society's moral decay to the music industry. If we analyzed the lyrics of Ludacris' "Money Maker," we might find the verse "Shake, shake, shake your money maker, like you were shakin? it for some paper" actually preaches about the importance of recycling or other pressing issues. Or maybe not. Unfortunately, I don't have the space to discuss the deeper meaning behind beloved lyrics such as the aforementioned ones, but I'm sure it would be compelling.

I don't believe in stealing. I'm not a piracy advocate. And this is not a rant. This is a logical argument posed by a person sick of the David and Goliath tactics used by the RIAA. It's sad when the art of music is perverted by overpricing. That is the heart of the problem. Musicians make money by means other than record sales. Or maybe they'll just have to downgrade from Cristal to Sutter Home.

Another criticism of the RIAA's handling of this matter: It doesn't present any options as alternatives to illegal downloading. It's wham, bam, lawsuit! In its comments to the media, the RIAA suggested a few general options, but in order to truly make an impact, we need specifics.

Either way you sing it, illegal downloading is still stealing. No one can deny that. Call me bitter. Call me crazy. Or call the RIAA stupid. I ain't saying it's a gold digger. But hey, if you're messing with RIAA, you better be paid.

Stephanie Rosenberg is a journalism junior.

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