RIAA sinks to the depths
The RIAA has decided to use online pornography, with special emphasis on Kiddie Porn, as its latest weapon to try to handle file sharing.
The idea, presumably, is to make the general public believe a primary function of p2p apps is to help sickos find porn - especially porn involving children - and then, the RIAA thinking probably goes, its attacks on file sharing and file sharers will be condoned.
I'm a dad with a seven-year-old daughter and I'm outraged.
The idea that anyone would want to use a child sexually is so gut-wrenchingly horrifying that I can't bear to even think about it. It's also one of the few crimes 99% of the world is united against and for the RIAA to use it in its already discredited campaign to smear what amounts to its competition is almost as repugnant as Kiddie Porn itself.
Of course, we're talking about the RIAA and therefore, it's not surprising to find it dredging the depths. It's sick, even for the labels: but it's also hypocritical, considering the music industry's sad record with respect to cleaning up its own act.
One of ex-RIAA boss Hilary Rosen's main jobs was to defend her clients against charges that much of their music promotes explicit sex and violence.
If you go to the RIAA page here (on September 6, anyway, but be sure it'll mysteriously change in the near future) you'll find this:
"As you get older, it may be harder to be hip, but its much easier to be educated. To help guide parents, RIAA has placed a number of different resources at your fingertips. The parent is the first and most important teacher. No one can take your place.
"The recording industry takes seriously our responsibility to help parents identify music with explicit lyrics. We believe that not all music is right for all ages and our Parental Advisory Label was created for just that reason. Parents can use the label to identify music that may not be appropriate for their children and make the choice about when and whether their children should be able to have that recording. Music can also be an opportunity - an outlet for parents or other adults to talk to kids and an opportunity for adults to tune into what kids are thinking and feeling. Listen to the music they choose and ask them why they like a certain song or album. What do they think the artist is saying?"
How very responsible.
But hold on ----
---- "I think that it is hypocritical for the music industry to claim that it is helping parents by placing a parental advisory [explicit content] label on a CD, while at the same time undermining parents by aggressively marketing the same CD to children."
The comment came from Federal Trade Commissioner Orson Swindle in December, 2001, a year after Rosen's 'We take our responsibility seriously' statement.
Because in 2000 some (Most? All?) of the major record companies were knowingly and deliberately peddling records with explicit lyrics, to use the popular euphemism for obscene and/or violent and/or sexually suggestive content, to kids, said the FTC report, Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Review of Self-Regulation and Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries.
Of the 55 music recordings, "with explicit content labels the Commission selected for its review, the Commission found that all were targeted to children under 17," it stated. There's a lot more here if you're interested.
"As a guy in the record industry and as a parent, I am shocked that these services are being used to lure children to stuff that is really ugly," Andrew Lack, chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment is quoted as saying of the p2p apps in a September 6 New York Times story here.
That'd be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.
December 5, 2001, saw the second follow-up to the FTC study and Rosen's statement responding to it would lead anyone to conclude that the FTC had awarded the RIAA a large pat on the back for a good job well done.
Her puff release said: "The Recording Industry has made tremendous progress in our campaign to inform parents about the Parental Advisory. Surveys show that public education is what parents care most about and we are confident in our success in this area. We are heartened that the Federal Trade Commission's report did reflect the many steps we have taken and the progress we have made to strengthen our program."
The term, 'disingenuous' sprang immediately to mind. It did to my mind, anyway. Because far from acknowledging the music industry's efforts, the FTC follow-up singled it out for further sharp criticism while in stark contrast, it praised the motion picture and electronic game industries who had, "made commendable progress in limiting their advertising to children of R-rated movies and M-rated games and in providing rating information in advertising."
In fact, commissioner Swindle went so far as to write a separate statement to the FTC's 5-0 approval of the report to specifically, "emphasize the lack of serious attention given by the music industry and by retailers to the Commission's recommendations in its two earlier reports," and concluded:
"After over 12 months of scrutiny, reports, and numerous recommendations, the music industry and retailers have chosen to do next to nothing. I am deeply skeptical that the government could or should try to compel industry to improve its performance. But I also do not think that we should merely identify the problem here and then walk away. Instead, we - the Congress, the Commission, parents, and the general public - must persuade the music industry and retailers to change their behavior to solve the problem."
You'll have noticed that in her puff release quoted earlier, Rosen stated proudly: "The Recording Industry has made tremendous progress in our campaign to inform parents about the Parental Advisory."
On this aspect, Commissioner Swindle also wrote: " ... the music industry has been obdurate. Industry representatives have said that the industry should not have to rate its music because its audible nature distinguishes it from visual media. Parents' concerns about their children's exposure to violence are no less important when a violent message is communicated orally. An oral message can be as effective as a visual one, as the power of propaganda has historically proven.
"Although the industry has established a label for explicit content, it has steadfastly argued that it has the absolute right to market music to children regardless of the nature of the content. I think that it is hypocritical for the music industry to claim that it is helping parents by placing a parental advisory label on a CD, while at the same time undermining parents by aggressively marketing the same CD to children. As it is, parents are challenged to protect their children from inappropriate material and impart values that will measure up to the test of time in a complicated world. Marketing violent entertainment directly to children only serves to frustrate parents' efforts.
"Surely, the music industry ought to be able to do better. The movie industry has demonstrated that an industry can establish an age-based and practical rating system and can effectively restrict advertising to children if corporate executives are committed to making the system work.
"Given that in the music industry - like the movie industry - a small number of companies controls the vast majority of U.S. distribution, a commitment to change by the executives associated with relatively few companies could make a big difference."
We haven't heard much about this lately, but there's no reason to think the RIAA's record will have improved. There's a section on 'parental advisories' on the RIAA site, so we visited it for a look at its latest meanderings on sex-and-violence as marketed by RIAA members to kids.
Same old same old. Just like the lyrics.
In any event, the September 7 NYT story on the subject suggests the music industry effort to enlist broader public support in its campaign is, "intended to show that its nemesis the peer-to-peer networks for swapping files like KaZaA and Morpheus are used not only to trade songs but also pornographic images, including child pornography".
That's perfectly correct. And Google, AltaVista, and all the other search engines are also used to locate porn of all kinds. And having found the porn of their choice, people then, presumably, download it. And having done so, lots of them probably exchange it. Trade it. Share it. Swap it.
Does this mean the RIAA will now attack the hundreds of search engines and 'find it here' sites on the same grounds that it's attacking Kazaa, et al?
In the meanwhile, Mitch Glazier, senior RIAA vp for government affairs, is quoted in the NYT piece as saying, "We are not trying to stop people from expressing themselves. We say you should do what we do and give notice and disclosure as in the labels warning of explicit lyrics on compact disc packages."