Round 1: RIAA vs United Airlines

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One company rips people off for hundreds of dollars, the other sues for thousands. Thing is though, you’re more likely to be directly screwed by United Airlines than RIAA… though the RIAA has a farily insidious effect beyond directly taking grannies to court… it’s all so confusing. The polls will decide the victor. — BEN POPKEN

[United Airlines photo: j3net


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  1. SharpieSniffer says:

    The damn voting never works for me in Firefox. What kind of non-consumer friendly BS is that, man? How can we vote against the RIAA using IE? That makes me feel cheap and dirty.

  2. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Not… even… close. I can’t remember the last time that I flew where I couldn’t choose to fly with another carrier. What’s RIAA’s competition?

  3. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Not… even… close. I can’t remember the last time when I couldn’t choose to go with another carrier when I flew. The RIAA wants to take away my right to privacy on my own computer.

  4. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Ghaa! Stupid comment didn’t show up when I refreshed earlier, so I assumed it didn’t go through and rewrote it.

  5. muddgirl says:

    I don’t get all this RIAA hate. They’re like the mentally challenged cousin at Thanksgiving dinner. They just want to give you a big hug, then say something loud and inappropriate about their genitals.

  6. Meg Marco says:

    Voting works for me in Firefox. IE use makes the Baby Jesus cry.

  7. FireFox 2.0 here, voting works fine, and RIAA is seriously trouncing the competition. :)

    Picture bias notwithstanding.

  8. jwismar says:

    Hm. Let me think. One is a company that provides a service. The other one is a bunch of scum sucking parasites who wish they could put me in jail for laoding my music collection on my computer.

    This is a tough one.

  9. esqdork says:

    United may not be friendly, but they do provide a service. The RIAA does nothing for consumers and arguably does nothing for the artists that it is supposed to represent. Instead, the RIAA is a mouthpiece for the industry giants who got themselves into the mess they’re in by refusing to get ahead of digital downloading. Besides, the last time I checked, United doesn’t sue you.

  10. thereviewer says:

    RIAA is the big contender for worst in America this year. They will destroy United, and beat the spread too.

  11. muddgirl says:

    Is the RIAA even a “company”? I always saw it as more of a reverse-union. Like, an organizational mvoement for like-minded companies, or something. I’m not arguing that their not evil (which they are), I’m just saying that comparing United Airlines and the RIAA is like comparing apples to oranges. Like comparing AT&T to the American Federation of Labor.

  12. rbb says:

    I think the consumerist is subtly trying to influence the vote here. Just 2 stories above this one on the main page is the headline:

    “United Airlines Says Don’t Bring Wine On The Plane If Your Name Sounds Terroristy”


  13. mattshu says:

    I believe the pre-tourney line on RIAA was even, while United was a 84-1 longshot. I don’t smell an upset here. United just needs to leave it all out on the floor, give 110 percent, and play their game. All they can do is do their best.

  14. SOhp101 says:

    There’s alternative choices with United. Not with RIAA.

  15. muddgirl says:

    Well, 10% of record producers aren’t associated with the RIAA, so there’s a choice. Furthermore, that only supports my assertion that the RIAA isn’t really a company.

    Look, I’ll stop arguing now. Everyone hates the RIAA. Fine.

  16. KevinQ says:

    muddgirl, the RIAA has a Chairman and CEO. That, to me, says “company.” Now, sure, they’re not a “store,” but they do offer a service to their customers. Just because their customers are other companies, and not the general public, doesn’t mean that they can’t be called out for their crap when their policies hurt America.


  17. xdabomb911 says:

    You might have noScript in Firefox if it doesn’t work. Allow Sitemeter – that’s what I did.

    But RIAA in a heartbeat… at least until they sue Warner Music for their CEO’s kids stealing music. Then I’ll give them props.

  18. MaxDrown says:

    It’s too bad it’s RIAA vs. UA so early in the tourney. As much as I **loathe* UA, they don’t stand a chance against the RIAA.

  19. Paul D says:

    RIAA…no question.

    @KevinQ: Just because [the RIAA’s] customers are other companies, and not the general public…

    Indeed. I would argue that is yet another strike against them.

  20. stephen5 says:

    According to their website:

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.

    In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review – – state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinumâ„¢, and Diamond® sales awards, and recently launched Los Premios De Oro y Platinoâ„¢, a new award celebrating Latin music sales.

    Judging from that I would say they are doing a pretty good job. I also doubt that any of their policies have “hurt America.”

    Sharing music with others is stealing, so is coping books at the library. Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean you have some “right” to do it.

    United Airlines on the other hand is a terrible company. They do not deliver the services they promise to consumers and they lose money for their shareholders. As a corporation they resemble a drunken pig on roller skates.

  21. muddgirl says:

    Sharing music with others is not theft (yet). Ofther than that, stephen5 has a great point. The RIAA is doing right by their consumers. Their consumers are the record producers. Although I will admit that all the crap laws they’re trying to buy through Congress could be defined as “hurting America”.

  22. Xkeeper says:

    I once again bring out the “sue a thousand people and make them pay $1500 to avoid the scary court, even if there’s no actual proof that they did anything” (and in many cases, there isn’t)

  23. TechnoDestructo says:

    I was torn. On the one hand, I don’t buy CDs anymore (except directly from artists, usually foreign ones) because I don’t want to support RIAA lawsuits.

    On the other hand, the last time I flew United, there was a flight attendant whose ass was wider than the aisle. It brushed up against someone on one side or the other, or both, every time she passed. Nothing says “welcome to the USA!” like an obese flight attendant.

  24. aviationwiz says:

    Well, the RIAA is a bunch of blood-sucking morons who should be charged with treason. United is an airline trying to compete in a competitive business, and IMO, is doing quite a good job too, they’ve always been good to me.

  25. shoegazer says:

    Plus, RIAA’s reach extends FAR beyond just the US of A, as they set the policies (and the Orwellian pressure) for the entire global music industry. Die you bloodsucking leeches.

  26. skippywasserman says:

    OK, fine, the RIAA is evil, but they’re not a company that you or I do business with. They’re a trade association. Is there even a customer service number? Is there a product or service I can purchase from them that may be faulty? For cryin’ out loud, we’re having a contest for the worst company in America on a website devoted to helping consumers deal with crappy service and products and companies that don’t give a flyin’ flip about them and instead of doing something that might give reason to listen to us we go and make whiny statements about Copyright Law and IP being outmoded by technology.

    Way to go and blow the credibility.

  27. kcskater says:

    Yeah skippywasserman, there’s a hotline. It’s for those people that get sued by the RIAA, often times for not doing anything wrong. They are trying to redefine copyright law and become a private police force. So yeah, they do interact with us, the consumers, but only to rape and pillage us.

  28. crayonshinobi says:

    I don’t think the RIAA is a “trade group” or a “company.” The best possible definition I could find for the RIAA (and the MPAA too) is a cartel.

    1. an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed esp. to regulate prices and output in some field of business.
    2. a coalition of political or special-interest groups having a common cause, as to encourage the passage of a certain law.

    Oh, and these practices would be illegal if our government wasn’t already bought and paid for.

  29. wildhobo says:

    What I want to know is if an artist downloads his own music can the RIAA sue him? That would be awsome, if I was musically talented in anyway I would try this.

  30. skippywasserman says:

    How do these two situations compare:

    1) I pay for someone to clean my car and they scratch the paint and then tell me “it was that way when they got it”. I want them to fix the damage they’ve done and they have to be cajoled into it by the power of the internet.

    2) Some idiots who REALLY just don’t get how technology is changing their business and can’t adapt quickly try to preserve an outmoded business model.

    Hint: One of those really can be tackled by a website aiming to aid consumers.

    Think back a few months. There’s been plenty of times where a goodly number of people have said “Well, it does suck that X happened, but how is it the company’s fault and what would you have them do” and a goodly number of times where the power of the internet to create informed consumers has been brought to bear to get companies to change their ways. The RIAA clearly doesn’t understand how the world is changing and, therefore, aren’t really going to be influenced by us talking about how bad a “company” they are. Further, we stop looking like a valued consumer voice (similar to Consumer Reports) and start to look like whiny children (similar to a vanity web page run by a 13 year old). Which do you want to be?

  31. Kornkob says:

    Way to go and blow the credibility.

    I think it’s been made clear (by Ben, in fact) that Consumerist is, first and foremost about entertainment and if they can help right some wrongs along the way, that’s cool too.

    Consuemrist isn’t a consumer advocacy group— they’re Gawker but isntead of looking at celebrities they are looking at train wrecks in the retail/customer relations world.

    And yes– that makes us all rubberneckers, slowing down to see the carnage.

  32. Wally East says:

    What, no shout out to for the cool downloading Communism poster?

  33. …instead of doing something that might give reason to listen to us we go and make whiny statements about Copyright Law and IP being outmoded by technology.

    Way to go and blow the credibility.

    Except no one brought up Copyright Law until you mentioned it so your statement is untrue (and not credible).

    The RIAA clearly doesn’t understand how the world is changing and, therefore, aren’t really going to be influenced by us talking about how bad a “company” they are.

    Whether or not they’ll care has no bearing on how bad they are. In fact, if United is more likely than the RIAA to change for the better it’s just one more reason to say that the RIAA is worse.

    Further, we stop looking like a valued consumer voice (similar to Consumer Reports) and start to look like whiny children (similar to a vanity web page run by a 13 year old).

    You’d do more than whine if they tried to extort money from you.

  34. LeopardSeal says:

    Whenever possible, I only support Independent Record labels. That way you know the money is not only staying out of the RIAA’s pocket, but it’s actually going to the artists. Paying the person who actually made the music is a strange concept, I admit, but it seems to work.

  35. says:

    most indies probably also get payments from the RIAA, because most indies have an unspoken association with another larger record label. I voted airlines on this one because the RIAA is at least trying to protect whats legally (key word: LEGALLY) theirs.

    Yes, labels could get rid of distribution all together and have 1. cheaper music 2. happier customers 3. more people supporting the market. We’re in a transition stage, thanks to the internet. So this could happen in the next couple of years.

    OK so sueing 13 year olds was a bad PR move. They could have taken a different action to get the same results. But you’d do the same thing if you were in their situation. whats wrong with regulating internet piracy? Stealing music is stealing, and it’s against the law. Period. It needs to be done and the RIAA is at least trying. Poorly, but they’re trying. Airlines are a flat out pain.

  36. tebbster says:

    Anyone who didn’t vote for United has clearly never had a customer service issue at Dulles Airport. They have a bank of phones with no buttons that connect you directly to a customer service agent except when you pick up the receiver the first thing you hear is the recorded message saying, “For English press 1…” Ummm there are no buttons.

    Furthermore United doesn’t seem to recognize that even though they fly almost 20 hours a day, customer service is only available during regular business hours. Perish the thought you have an issue with your flight after 5pm.

  37. dewrock says:

    “Sharing music with others is not theft (yet).”

    How do you figure it’s not theft(yet)? This isn’t anyone’s music to do with what you please. I’m not judging anyone who does it because I do it too, mostly with hard to find stuff or stuff I’m not sure if I want to buy yet. But people should atleast have the decency enough to admit that what they’re doing is stealing and is wrong. You can’t try to rationalize it away by saying that everyone does it or that you’re just “sharing”. This isn’t like lending your friend a CD…that’s sharing. People are making available pirated copies of music for other people to then rip onto their computers, ipod, whatever. I fail to see how the RIAA is such a evil thing for looking out for their interests and the interests of musicians.

  38. beaners123 says:

    There is a difference between stealing and fair use. When even Norton Antivirus defines the hidden copy protection used on Sony’s CDs as “a trojan,” does that make you sit up and take notice? Somewhere, someone decided that when you play a CD that you purchased legitimately, on your computer, that your computer should be disabled. I think that somewhere, the fact that I own around 240+ CD albums legitimately means that I’ve given enough money to the music industry. I am no longer willing nor able to spend $15 on two songs + 10 fillers. If I purchase a song on a site, I want it to be mine, not “tethered” to a subscription. God forbid we should want to trade songs, or should I be sued when I say, “Here Billy, I made you a mix CD?” And then all the FBI agents burst in and arrest 24-year old me, instead of dealing with poverty, national peace, and crack dealers. Thank you, RIAA.

    Hello, folks. DRMs are just the tip of the vaguely worded DMCA, otherwise entitled, “Let’s Use the Courts to Reinforce an Outmoded Business Policy.” Someone was right when they said above, “At least United provides a valuable service.” The RIAA cannibalizes its own members (see the issue of musician royalties and health insurance).

  39. SignedOn says:

    I thought AA was terrible, but this one takes the cake. Boarding in the hinderlands in Lubbock the gate agent wheeling a woman in a wheelchair (who was obviously disabled) at the plane’s door he loudly asked her WHY should couldn’t walk. Politely she said she had polio as a child and actually grabbed the plane’s body with her arms and hoisted herself up, and asked the attendant to help her “transfer,” commentng she didn’t want him helping her – we didn’t blame her. Never have we ever heard anyone insult a disabled person, much less someone who was supposed to be assisted – maybe that’s “Lubbock” but it’s not good.

    Once in the air there was no heat in the darned cabin – this was late December and up ‘there’ its dang cold. Nothing helped us passengers – it was so frigid our faces had to covered up with our clothing – no attendant nearby and we were in the 3rd row.

    Upon landing at Intercontinental when the pilot heard of the cold he asked the attendant why she hadn’t notified him, and she said, “It’s never warm in these airplanes:” great excuse – she couldn’t even speak up politely nor apologize to anyone.

    Later, we had to change our flight plans and this tragic example of a corporation wanted to charge us $200 each in additional ‘fees’ plus the cost of the ticket. We let ours go and grabbed one on SWA where the flight, people, reservations, and airport personnel were 180 degrees different from United Continental.