April 17, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Fake "Clean Slate" Gone - How About a Real One?

The RIAA has finally seen the light with regard to its "Clean Slate" program, which offered false amnesty, or shamnesty, to people who admitted to file sharing. Citing the success of its "education" campaign, the group has abruptly cancelled the program.

"Clean Slate" promised that in exchange for a confession, you could gain meaningful protection from lawsuits for copyright infringement. In fact, the program left you vulnerable to lawsuits by record companies and music publishers, as well as bands like Metallica that retain independent control of music rights.

Eric Parke, represented by Ira Rothken, brought suit, charging fraudulent business practices -- and here, perhaps, we can glean the true reason for the RIAA's change of heart. Its attorneys announced during a recent court proceeding that the group had discontinued "Clean Slate" -- and that therefore the case was moot. The announcement took Mr. Parke, his attorney and the judge by surprise.

These kinds of machinations are a terrible waste of time and money. If the RIAA is sincere about helping music fans come in from the cold, it should turn its considerable energies toward offering a true "amnesty" program -- say, by adopting a voluntary collective licensing plan that would turn millions of people from criminals seeking shelter from the law into legitimate paying customers.

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