The RIAA has sent requests to take down music before. Most of the time, these notices are about pirated content. But lately, the group has been protecting its members from “infringing” sales of Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain names on OpenSea. When asked to do so, the NFT marketplace pulled the auctions, including those for RIAA.eth.
Over the past few decades, the music industry has struggled with adapting to new technologies.
People have said cassette tapes, recordable CDs, MP3s, and streaming services threaten how much money artists and labels make.
Recently, different blockchain and NFT projects have been a growing problem. The RIAA went after the NFT marketplace HitPiece earlier this year, calling it a scam site that made fans think they had bought collectibles endorsed by artists.
HitPiece shut down after reading this review, and NFT Music Stream did the same. But these sites aren’t the only ones with NFTs that cause problems. In March, RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier wrote in an opinion piece for Variety that the problem is much bigger now that many more sites are selling “infringing” NFTs.
“These sites are charging exorbitant prices for these NFTs, promising ownership in a ‘unique song recording’ and often featuring album art or artist photos to lure in unsuspecting fans,” Glazier cautioned.
The problem isn’t just with dedicated music NFT projects that sell “rights” to songs and album art. There are also problems with broader NFT marketplaces where third-party sellers can auction off NFTs. And these issues are significant to the RIAA.
RIAA is going after.ETH domains
The music industry group recently asked NFT marketplace OpenSea to remove several listings for Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain names by sending a “takedown notice.” People who are interested in cryptocurrencies like the.ETH extension of these blockchain-based domains.
The RIAA has no problem with the domain service itself. Still, it does take offense when third parties sell domains with the RIAA logo and the names of its members and executives.
An RIAA takedown notice sent to OpenSea lists 51 ENS domain name auctions, such as RIAA.eth, Sony-music.eth, Warnermusicgroup. eth, Atlanticrecords.eth, Virginrecords.eth, Universalmusic.eth, and republic-records.eth.
RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier, Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, and Columbia Records CEO Ron Perry are the people whose names are used.ETH domains.
The RIAA doesn’t like these domain name auctions, so they requested to take them down. The group let OpenSea know they were breaking the rights of the RIAA and its members.
“The ENS domain names […] infringe RIAA’s or our members’ trademarks, as they cause dilution, confusion, and tarnishment of these trademarks. The sale of these ENS domain names is also actionable under the Lanham Act.
“In addition, the sale of ENS domain names that contain the names of executives at RIAA or our member companies violates the AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection Act,” the music group informed the platform.
OpenSea seems to have listened to this request since all listings have been removed. The auction URLs now point to a delisting message instead of a domain auction.
Even though the RIAA has good reason to take action against trademark infringements, not every domain is a problem. After all, other people named Ron Perry, or Rob Stringer can’t buy those domain names anymore.
We reached out to the RIAA for more information, but the group declined to make further comments. We expect this won’t be the last time it takes action against NFTs.
The move by the RIAA happens simultaneously with a PR campaign by LimeWire, which just opened its own NFT marketplace. Ironically, the RIAA sued the original LimeWire for copyright infringement and shut it down.
This new version of LimeWire has nothing to do with the original file-sharing software. Even the company’s founder isn’t thrilled that the brand is being used for this new purpose. The domain name and other assets were sold last year and are now owned by a completely different team.
The new LimeWire will be careful about copyright issues because of the brand’s history. Its first deal with Soulja Boy shows that the platform is actively working with artists, even if Soulja Boy has a history of “piracy.” The site also doesn’t seem to have any viruses.