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RIAA President Snitches on Own Grandmother for Swapping MP3s

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WASHINGTON, DC (SP) — Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Cary Sherman announced today that her own grandmother is guilty of swapping MP3 music files, a popular format for exchanging music over the internet. Sherman made the accusation during the unveiling of a new RIAA "snitch line" created to encourage people to inform on family, friends, relatives, neighbours, and other acquaintances. The informant program is modelled on that developed by the East German secret police (STASI) during the Cold War.

Under the new program, Sherman collected $50 U.S. for providing the name and address of her grandmother, and will collect an additional $100 upon search and seizure by the RIAA of any copied music. "That doesn't just include MP3s on the computer, either. Cassette tapes of LPs, old betamax videotapes of music videos, 8-track copies, cell phones with pop tune ring tones: it's all the same before the law. It's all pirated music, and the RIAA Campaign Against Piracy will stamp it all out. We're comin' after you." Sherman went on to estimate that upwards of 90% of Americans over age 12 possess copied music in some form or other, so people should feel confident in reporting whomever they choose.

"Understand that you don't need to go snooping around someone's house or computer before making the call; that's our job. Just make the call, and most likely we will find something incriminating when we do a search. If not, hey — until August 31st, we'll even let you keep the fifty bucks."

The RIAA has been looking into recruiting Erich Mielke to head its Campaign Against Piracy. Mielke was head of the East German STASI (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) until the reunification of Germany in 1990. Under Mielke, the STASI retained an impressive 175,000 informers, or roughly one out of every 100 East German citizens. Estimates put the rate of unofficial informants as high as one out of every 10 citizens.

"Unfortunately, we learned that Mielke died in 2000 at age 92," said Hilary Rosen, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA. "We are sure that he would have brought a lot to the table in our campaign. We have made good progress, though, with the $150,000-a-song lawsuit against [Michigan Technological University student Joseph] Nievelt. Then there's the sending automatic messages to peoples' computers we started in April, telling them we know they're swapping music, and that we are watching them. To cap it off, we are this close to getting legislated authority to go on the offensive — I'm talking distributing viruses that delete files off peoples' computers, performing denial-of-service attacks on servers, and basically kicking some pirate ass."

According to Rosen, the RIAA hopes to recruit 10% of the American public by year's end, with a two-year goal of 25%. "We will be going into the schools, to the nation's children. We'll tell little Johnny that when Mommy and Daddy make him mad, all he needs to do is call us, and we will come and take them away. In my opinion, there is no household in America that cannot use a cleansing from the plague that is music piracy."

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