San Francisco, Calif. After using the courts to keep Napster and MP3.com from freely distributing music over the Internet, the Recording Industry Association of America today asked a federal judge to stop people from humming or whistling copyrighted songs in public. The RIAA also asked for $300 million in damages from the estimated 22 million drunken men who think banging out the opening drum beat to “Wipeout” is a good way to impress women in bars.
“Anyone who publicly hums or whistles is disseminating copyright-protected music and thereby infringing on our artists’ rights,” said RIAA spokesman Janet Fogerty. “Also, we don’t like it when the wind blows. It sounds too much like the beginning to Elton John’s ‘Funeral for a Friend.’”
Free speech advocates were outraged over the RIAA’s action, but women generally applauded. “Most of the guys I know can’t drum Wipeout when they’re sober, let alone drunk,” said Helen Kurtz, a 22-year-old from Manhattan.