Grand Theft Audio is a 2007 video game produced by a small development studio formed within the Recording Industry Association of America. It was designed to educate the player on the implications of illegal filesharing, which the RIAA claims is the cause of up to $4 billion in lost annual revenue for the music industry, and unauthorized tape recordings, to which the association has not attached a monetary amount of lost profits but insists on its website that the practice is "really just not remotely kosher."
The RIAA first announced the development of Grand Theft Audio in 2005, which, along with the years 1952-88, 1992, 1994-2002 and 2004, the trade group has identified as "critical junctures" in audio intellectual property rights. Originally the website set up for the game, gtaudio.com, displayed only a poster of two cowboys in a fistfight with the phrase "FAIR USE" across the top. This poster was soon removed after it was discovered that it was actually a manipulated advertisement for the 1931 Western Fair Warning starring George O'Brien, and still under copyright. It was replaced with a text-only "COMING SOON" notice which constituted the site's only content until late 2006.
In November 2006 print ads began appearing in many large trade magazines, including Audio World, IP Monthly and RIAA Weekly Office Newsletter. Many movie theaters also ran 30-second spots before popular films, although the organization was criticized for using violent and sexually explicit imagery in ads that were shown before children's fare such as Happy Feet. Former RIAA president Hilary Rosen applauded this measure, claiming that such startling content was necessary if "we wanted to get 'em when they're still young and impressionable." (more...)