The RIAA has taken aim at its next target: NFT marketplace HitPiece.
The RIAA’s SVP of litigation, Jared Freedman, sent a strongly worded letter to music NFT “scam site” HitPiece’s attorney. Freedman calls out HitPiece and describes it as a “scam,” “complete sham,” “immoral,” “unethical,” and a “fraud”:
“Your clients’ operations have been variously described in recent days as a ‘scam,’ a ‘complete sham,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘unethical,’ and a ‘fraud.’ All of these criticisms are of course accurate. Although it appears that your clients now contend that they did not actually include any sound recordings with their NFTs (which, if true, likely amounts to yet another form of fraud), it is undeniable that, to promote and sell their NFTs, your clients used the names and images of the Record Companies’ recording artists, along with copyrighted album art and other protected images, the rights to which belong to the Record Companies and their artists. Your clients’ outright theft of these valuable intellectual property rights is as outrageous as it is brazen.”
The RIAA has played whack-a-mole with the music industry for many years by going after sites that attack the labels’ artists and copyrights. Recently, a judge recommended millions in damages caused by Russian stream-ripping site FLVTO. The recommendation will now be reviewed by US District Judge Claude Hilton for the final determination.
“As music lovers and artists embrace new technologies like NFTs, there’s always someone looking to exploit their excitement and energy,” RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier said in a statement. “Given how fans were misled and defrauded by these unauthorized NFTs and the massive risk to both fans and artists posed by HitPiece and potential copycats, it was clear we had to move immediately and urgently to stand up for fairness and honesty in the market.”
The RIAA’s chief legal officer Ken Doroshow added: “HitPiece appears to be little more than a scam operation designed to trade on fans’ love of music and desire to connect more closely with artists, using buzzwords and jargon to gloss over their complete failure to obtain necessary rights. Fans were led to believe they were purchasing an NFT genuinely associated with an artist and their work when that was not at all the case. While the operators appear to have taken the main HitPiece site offline for now, this move was necessary to ensure a fair accounting for the harm HitPiece and its operators have already done and to ensure that this site or copycats don’t simply resume their scams under another name.”
After receiving harsh criticism from artists and fans, HitPiece shut down its website. It now states, “We started the conversation and we’re listening.” They claim that they didn’t sell any sound files, but the RIAA is arguing that it still used artists’ name, images, and copyright album art.
HitPiece issued a statement on February 1 after artists started getting turned onto their scam.
“Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans,” reads their post. “To be clear, artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece. Like all beta products, we are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels, and fans alike.”
HitPiece’s founder Rory Felton stated that it would pay artists for the digital good sold on the platform, but many artists are skeptical.