Their efforts to combat piracy are often draconian: threatening tens of thousands of people with lawsuits claiming obscenely high damages; attempting to coordinate their threats with consumers’ ISPs; and, most recently, supporting legislation like SOPA and PIPA that would undermine the fabric of the Internet. Hell, Universal once pulled down a 30 second YouTube video of a dancing baby because the baby had the audacity to dance to a Prince song.
Which is why my jaw dropped when I saw that VEVO, a property jointly owned by some of the biggest record labels in the world, was showing a pirated stream of an ESPN football game at its Sundance PowerStation venue last month — on no fewer than two televisions, and a pair of laptops.
First, some background. VEVO is a sort of ‘Hulu for music videos’ that’s owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Abu Dhabi Media Group. EMI (which Universal and Sony are in the process of acquiring chunks of) has licensed its content to the site. Together, these labels comprise three of America’s ‘Big Four’ music labels — Warner Music being the lone holdout. And these Big Four make up the vast majority of the RIAA.
So when you hear about the record labels suing people, or trying to get ISPs to clamp down on users, or trying to pass legislation that could destroy the web as we know it — a lot of these people are behind it.
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