The U.S. music industry has another tool in its anti-piracy toolkit. Signed into Florida law Thursday by Governor Rick Scott, the "True Origin of Digital Goods Act" will require owners or operators of websites or online services that offer downloads or streams of music or music videos to "clearly and conspicuously disclose" the person's name, physical address, and telephone number or email address. The law will take effect July 1st.
"True Origin," an addition to Florida's existing consumer protection laws, is ostensibly about making Floridians more informed consumers. In a letter to Governor Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi wrote that the law would allow Floridians "to protect themselves against websites that distribute" music content illegally.
But the law is also intended to help Florida's music business. Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO of the RIAA, wrote in an op-ed in The Tampa Tribune the U.S. Latin market for recorded music has fallen to $109 million last year, from $627 million in 2000. He believes the Latin music labels have been hit the hardest by CD counterfeiting and digital piracy and, as a result, "have been forced to shed hundreds of jobs."
"True Origin" also has national and global implications. Rather than target just websites or services based in Florida -- if any exist after Grooveshark shut down last month -- the bill affects any website or service that distributes music or music videos to a person in Florida. Rights holders and creators around the world would be helped if a Floridian -- the Latin music division of a global music company, for example -- gains protection from the court.
So how would the imposition of labeling, so common elsewhere in commerce, help the music industry? Supporters of the law are wagering illegal sites and services will refuse to comply with the law. If this happens, and after a court order seeking compliance is ignored, third-party services can be asked to stop support the website or service.
The law was written to prevent service providers and specific content from getting caught in the crossfire. It places no liability on Internet service providers, mobile carriers, domain name registration providers and other parties who products or services may be involved in digital piracy. It excludes video games, recordings of video game play or the streaming of video game play.