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    Someone posted this in the Watt list..

    Why the RIAA owes us all an apology
    by David Coursey
    Executive Editor, AnchorDesk
    Thursday, October 18, 2001

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) should issue a public apology for its attempt last week to lump music swappers together with terrorists–criminals worthy of special efforts and restrictions on civil liberties in order to bring them to justice.

    What the RIAA did was attempt to get language added to the PATRIOT anti-terrorism law that would have opened the door for a full-frontal technological attack on music swappers. This despicable action trivializes the victims of terrorism, as well as the men and women who have placed themselves in harm’s way to fight the terrorist menace.

    AT A TIME when our nation must make serious decisions about whether to compromise civil liberties in the pursuit of evil, the RIAA should’ve had the good sense to remain on the sidelines. Napster and its ilk, however illegal, have fallen off our national agenda. Using this dramatic shift in priorities as an occasion to insert selfish provisions into the anti-terrorism law is almost beyond belief.

    Wisely, legislators from both parties stopped the record industry lobbyists in their tracks.

    Specifically, the RIAA wanted the ability to attack file-swappers’ computers without suffering any civil liability. The proposed text would have exempted from lawsuits "any impairment of the ability of data, a program, system or information, resulting from measures taken by an owner of a copyright."

    WHAT THIS HAS TO DO with our war on terrorism, I don’t know. Given that Congress is prone to stick unrelated issues into popular bills, I understand that this may have been seen as business as usual by the RIAA.

    Now, people who trade copyrighted music may be many things, including criminals. But they are not terrorists, and the RIAA’s attempt to bludgeon them makes swappers seem more like the freedom fighters they’ve always claimed to be.

    While I understand the need for copyright holders–a group that includes me–to protect their work from illegal copying–which I’ve also done on occasion–the RIAA has crossed the line.

    THE REASON the recording industry wanted protection from lawsuits is, apparently, a plan to take the battle to the swappers’ home turf, essentially jamming the swapping services themselves. If this sounds an awful lot like a next-generation denial-of-service attack, it should.

    Also, the RIAA would have been free to add viruses to copyrighted music that could act directly against the users’ machine.

    In the end, such direct action against violators may be necessary, as the peer-to-peer services find new and better ways to isolate themselves from the illegalities they encourage. Just because I am down on the RIAA doesn’t mean it’s OK for swappers to violate copyrights with impunity.

    BUT THE SWAPPERS have always justified their actions, at least in part, as civil disobedience and as a means of forcing a reexamination of copyright issues. They have painted the recording industry as a bunch of greedy <fill> who care only about making a buck, customers and the public be damned.

    And in trying to equate copyright violators with Al Qaeda, the RIAA managed to prove its harshest critics–a group I’ve never been considered a part of–absolutely right.



    hmmmmmm [img]images/smiles/converted/evil_eye.gif[/img]



    SWINE!!!! Amazed the two parties actually took a stand and refused that crap [img]images/smiles/converted/eek.gif[/img]
    Don’t think the RIAA will give up thou [img]images/smiles/converted/mad.gif[/img]




    I haven’t pieced through this line by line yet. Just had a chance to peruse it during lunch. I did instantly decide it will be good copy for a persuasive speech for school. I was hoping to focus in on how the whole Napster thing could be beneficial to consumers and how the pieces are already in place to more fully realize it and act.

    The folks at FreakScene hit this sitch up pretty well on the Moby thread a few weeks back. Now this article confirms the fact something must be done to bring the industry and the consumers into mutual benefit. If selfish profit-driven displays of unthoughfulness like the most recent garbage above continues, the black market is likely to become so pervasive that artists may not want to work in this conventional setting.

    On one hand, I can relate to the initial concern of the industry group, but I think, just like the Firestone mess, they are more interested and casting blame and finding scapegoats for their money-grubbing and the continual losses they experience as a result.

    If the industry was willing to inventory their resource materials and costs and be willing to explore cheaper means of production in along with forming alliances and partnerships with the Mp3 organizations to help offset distribution and associated costs (ala Machina from Smashing Pumpkins), and the cojoining industries could drop unit costs on store-bought albums by offering certain cuts online with hit count profts and such going back to the conglomeration.

    If you look at Russia’s black market for household goods, the picture is quire scary. I for one, do not want to see CD’s go up to $50.00 per and have to deal with mafia-types for a reasonable deal. The answers are going to have to come from within, yet it will never happen if the industry continues to manifest a social labeling theory by likening traders to criminals. The only result of this, is I am afraid, is the traders living up to the imposed stereotypes and the industry using the courts as a sword to punish.





    Gave my speech today related to this thread. Here it is:
    How the RIAA and consumers can coexist legally
    and respectfully

    Try to imagine your favorite record store closing its doors for good and that downloading your favorite band’s new record was a federal felony punishable by 10 years in prison? How about having to pay $50.00 per new release and having to buy it from a street gang or mafia-type outfit? Crazy? Impossible? No. Unless the Recording Industry Association of America changes its current practices and policies, we may all be buying our music from the mob.

    The RIAA’s prosecuting of consumers and file-sharing services in order to protect their market is selfish, shortsighted and thus, ineffective. The Napster lawsuit spearheaded by heavy-metal band N’Sync…. I mean Metallica (used a transparency of Metallica from Garage Inc. showing them filthy dirty… this got huge laughs [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] ) only resulted in new fee-based services that still get around copyrights. Prices on most CD’s and cassettes remain high enough to prompt consumer trafficking in mediums that deny the industry exorbitant profits.

    Causes of the anti-market dynamic are social, economic and political in nature. According to Maxine Baca-Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen, authors of the sociological textbook, In Conflict and Order, the powerless consumer both meets a want and punishes a corrupt industry who places profits over consumer concerns. Instead of admitting responsibility, the industry places blame on the consumer and reacts by labeling them as criminals and treating them as such.

    Consumers spent over 14.5 billion dollars (US) in 1999 on sound recordings according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This equates out to about 2 percent of the 8 trillion plus Gross Domestic Product. While not seeming like much overall, pricing of individual units does not change for a consumer who takes in less personal income. The less fortunate consumer may be more tempted to gain their product by illicit means than those who can afford not to.

    The RIAA uses lobbyists to push their causes through to law and to support politicians who are favorable to their causes. Additionally, the RIAA is a media-based organization that provides coverage and notoriety to various political candidates and office-holders. Like many other lobbying groups, the mutual interactions with government are of significantly higher priority than those with their source of revenue, the consumer.

    To remedy these problems, the RIAA, including member record producers, distributors, and artists, should look into repricing individual units and furthering licensing agreements with Mp3 databases. The need for this plan is tremendous. According to both Billboard Magazine’s October 27th issue and FreakScene bulletin board, fan web-base of former Dinosaur Jr. Frontman J. Mascis (obligatory no-shame plug [img]images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img] ), the RIAA attempted to insert language into the PATRIOT anti-terrorist bill that would allow them to continue to modifiy PC’s of consumers who are found to upload pirated music. The RIAA vehemently denies the charges made by Billboard, yet acknowledges lobbying to be allowed to continue "protection by means of self-help measures". The Judiciary Committee rejected the new language and the RIAA’s attempts to except themselves from this bill. (The old law lets the RIAA cause up to $5000 worth of collateral damage to individual uploaders of pirated PC’s. The new law makes any amount of damage a crime.)

    The music industries’ pricing system is antiquated and unlike any other industry that offers a similar market with new forms of product that eventually age. Bob Higgins, CEO of TransWorld Entertainment and John Marmaduke of Hastings Entertainment lean toward a dynamic pricing system, noting that prices remain the same even when sales drop. (The source here states this is so, because unlike videos and books, the opportunity to gain additional profits is driven by the first single released and then the second etc.. We know that should not be across the board, right?)
    Borders VP Len Consimano states that unless volume compensates for lower prices, artists will continue to suffer. However, neither side proposes using the dynamics of one problem’s dynamics to affect another’s and vice-versa.

    The problem is two-fold yet unified by the ideal that the consumer is subject to be affected financially by paying higher and higher prices driven by RIAA’s pursuit of copyright protection and the industrie’s loss of overall profits by consumers unable or unwilling to meet rising costs. With consumer expenditures dropping by about $200,000,000 in 2000, the first loss in ten years, the industry must swallow its pride and its profits by continuing to invest money in licensing agreements with file-sharing services. If this trend continues, Mp3 income can provide a buffer neccesary to allow recordings to be repriced and for artists and other industry workers to get paid.

    As stated, the RIAA needs to look at who pays their bills and decide if they are more important than those who have their own agendas to pursue. My hope is that we, as music lovers first, and consumers second, will be allowed to continue enjoying the work of entertainers and that entertainers will be allowed to continue enjoying their work.



    Baca Zinn, Maxine and D. Stanley Etizen. In Conflict and Order. Boston. Allyn and Bacon, 2001. 180-182

    Brue, Stanley L. and Campbell R. McConnell. Microeconomics. Boston. Irwin McGraw-Hill, 1999. G-8

    Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir.
    We the People. New York. Norton, 1999. 415-423


    United States Bureau of Census. Profile of Consumer Sound Recordings: 1990-1999. 2000


    FreakScene BBS. :Why the RIAA owes us all an apology." Online posting. <http>]www.freakscene.net/cgibin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=gettopic&f=16&t=000347&p=>[/url] Internet 19 Oct. 2001

    Recording Industry Association of America. "Response to Billboard Article on Anti-Terrorism." RIAA. October 28, 2001 <http>]www.riaa.com>[/url] (28 Oct. 2001)


    Christman, Ed. "Industry Debates CD prices and Destiny." Billboard. Oct. 20, 2001. 1-2

    Christman, Ed. "Strong Staying Power Seen for CD’s Despite New Music Formats." Billboard. Oct. 20, 2001 76

    Holland, Bill. "RIAA Criticized over Effort to Change Anti-Terrorist Bill." Billboard. Oct. 27, 2001. 10.

    Yow. I didn’t think it would be this long in print. The spoken version was quite short only about 8 minutes. Thanks again all.


    [ October 31, 2001: Message edited by: Half-Man ]

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    BRAVO, Half-man, BRAVO!!!! [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    I agree 100%. The RIAA needs to realize that they’re alienating the consumers. They’ve been blinded by the bottom line…

    I realize that there are always gonna be folks who will (try to) abuse online sharing and the like, but the sheer volume leads me to believe that this has gone far beyond a case of the avarage joe getting a free lunch… [img]images/smiles/icon_cool.gif[/img]



    I disagree with the whole including file sharing in with terrorism thing that Jeremiah, but I still think you’re all greedy bastards who need to get a job and buy CDs, dammit.

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