As the holiday shopping season picks up, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a series of initiatives to offer consumers tips for avoiding pirated music.
The RIAA is focusing its efforts in cities where the illegal underground music trade is most prevalent, especially highlighted by a disproportionate decline in legitimate retail sales. These "hot spot" cities include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Providence, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa. So far this year, RIAA investigations have netted a total of approximately 3.4 million counterfeit CDs and 3,940 arrests during raids on suspected premises where illegal underground operations were taking place throughout these regions.
Working with local law enforcement officials throughout the country, the RIAA continues to focus its attention on major pirate product manufacturers responsible for feeding "pre-release" and newly-released music into illicit retail markets. The organization and its investigators also continue to focus on the retail markets where the illegal products are most frequently sold, such as small vendor establishments and flea markets.
Industry officials offered the following tips to help holiday shoppers avoid illegal goods and get the real thing:
- Remember the Adage "You Get What You Pay For": Even if you are hoping to get your favorite movies or albums at a discount, new or used, extremely low prices might indicate pirated product.
- Watch for Compilations that are "Too Good to Be True": Many pirates make "dream compilation" CDs, comprised of songs by numerous artists on different record labels who would not likely appear on the same legitimate album together.
- Read the Label: If the true name and address of the manufacturer is not shown, it is most likely not legitimate product. These products often do not contain a bar code. In addition, if anywhere on the package it reads that the disc is an "All-Region," "0-Region," or "No Region" product, it?s highly likely that the CD or DVD is pirated. Furthermore, if the record label or movie studio listed is a company you?ve never heard of, that should be another warning sign.
- Look for Suspicious Packaging: Carefully look over the packaging and beware of products that do not look genuine. Packages with misspelled words, blurry graphics, weak or bad color should all raise red flags. Inferior quality print work on the disc surface or slip sleeve cover, as well as the lack of original artwork and/or missing studio or label, publisher, and distributor logos on discs and packaging, are usually clear indicators that the product is pirated. CDs and DVDs with loose or no shrink wrap or cheaply made insert cards, often without liner notes or multiple folds, are probably not legitimate product.
- Watch for Product Being Sold in Unusual Places: CDs and DVDs sold in non-traditional venues, like flea markets or on the street are probably not legitimate.
- Trust your ear: The sound quality on pirate CDs and DVDs is often poor or inconsistent.