p2pnet.net:- Big Music has a string of agencies strategically sited around the world. With names such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association of America), CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association of America) and so on, they purport to be looking after the interests of the hundreds of record labels.
But to all intents and purposes, they’re the exclusive properties of four multi-billion-dollar mega companies which rule the corporate music industry with an iron hand.
They are EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner Music (US) and their so-called trade associations are in fact vicious enforcement outfits whose principal job is to make sure ‘consumers’ consume, consume, consume, rigidly toeing the corporate line as they do so.
To make sure that happens without halt, the Big 4 are using the international law courts to terrorise innocent people such as Tanya Andersen and her daughter, Kylee (right), to make their point.
Andersen and her lawyer, Lory Lybeck, recently joined the ranks of former RIAA victims who’d forced the Big 4 enforcer to scurry off, tail between its legs.
But before that happened, “It was a living nightmare,” she told me.
‘Criminals’ and ‘thieves’
Using mass propaganda techniques identical to those originally developed in the early part of the 20th century and honed to perfection by the Nazis during World War II, the Big 4 have been able to turn a purely commercial transgression, copyright infringement, into a major crime on the scale of rape and murder, calling people who share copyrighted music with each other ‘criminals’ and ‘thieves,’ although no crime has been committed and nothing has been stolen.
“Propagandists use a variety of propaganda techniques to influence opinions and to avoid the truth,” says the Center for Media & Democracy. “Often these techniques rely on some element of censorship or manipulation, either omitting significant information or distorting it.”
It’s also called ‘spin’ and mis- and disinformation maestros such as the RIAA’s Mitch Bainwol and Cary Sherman distort and twist the truth to suit the ends of their masters, the major record labels who use these techniques to uphold completely unsupportable claims against people such as Tanya, a disabled mother living on medical benefits and her daughter Kylee, who’s only 10.
The Big 4, so rich that it’ll probably never be possible to assess their true worth, claim unblushingly that the Andersens and people like them are “devastating” them and causing terrible distress to both artists and record industry workers.
Demonstrating their complete disregard the mental well-being of a child, the RIAA actually tried to set its lawyers loose on Kylee. It was defeated only after strenuous efforts on the part of her mother and Lybeck.
The only people being “devastated” are, moreover, the Tanyas and Kylees and the 30,000 or so other RIAA victims, not one of whom has yet appeared before a judge or a jury, or been found guilty of anything.
And even when a customer caves in to an extortionate out-of-court settlement, it’s not necessarily the end of things. Every time one of the victims, who universally deny they’ve done anything wrong, agrees to pay the RIAA to drop a case, the Big 4 enforcer acquires a virtual admission of guilt (not to mention a wealth priceless personal data) which potentially allows it to reopen the case sometime in the future.
However, the RIAA is being forced to drop more and more of its cases as more and more people stand against it. Because this isn’t a righteous campaign on the part of a genuinely distressed industry group. It’s the hard-core persecution of a small group of people who are literally unable to defend themselves by an equally small group of venal companies whose only interest is keeping their shareholders happy.
Bizarre marketing battle
To read corporate press reports, the Big 4 are winning this bizarre marketing battle against their own customers.
However, nothing could be further than the truth and literally hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people around the world are opening Net accounts to tap the burgeoning independent sites launched by musicians and bands, entrepreneurs offering affordable music downloads —– and, of course, the free p2p networks.
Against that, the number of people Big Music has managed to pillory count only in the thousands. In other words, the likelihood of any individual being specifically targeted is close to zero. But that doesn’t matter, the labels believe, because they and major Hollywood studio media elements exert almost limitless control over most segments of mainstream print and electronic press.
This allows the music cartels, in particular, to explode the tiny handful of cases currently in process – the vast majority of which have never reached the courts and never will – into examples of a wave of successful ‘prosecutions’.
Refusing to be bludgeoned
For decades the major labels have been ripping off their customers with shoddy, overpriced ‘product’. However, the picture is changing in this 21st digital century. Thanks to the Net, blogs, IM, email, chat, news sites, cellphones and other communications vehicles which have become common, consumers have become customers again and far worse (from the Big Music perspective), these now well-informed people can, and do, completely bypass the corporate outlets, gaining access to unspun information in a manner never before possible.
More and more people are refusing to be bludgeoned by the Big 4 and Andersen was one of the first to decide she wasn’t going put up with it, the fact she had no money and no legal resources to back her up notwithstanding. She was able to get Oregon lawyer Lory Lybeck on her side and together, they’ve fought the RIAA to a standstill.
The RIAA may have dropped its case against her, but now she’s fighting for recompense, so it’s not completely over and before the RIAA slithered away, “I felt constant fear and extreme stress,” Andersen says, going on:
There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by where I didn’t think about and wonder what my daughter and my future would be like, what kind of a future would we have, and after all this mess, if we would even be able to afford the basic necessities of life. I wondered often if I would mentally be able to handle all that was happening. The lawsuit affected my daughter greatly. There were times she was afraid what was going to happen.
The lawsuit did a lot of damage to my health, my life with my daughter, and relationships with other people. It made me short-tempered, overwhelmed, nervous and stressed.
At times I would be so edgy and short that I would snap at things I never normally would.
Through this lawsuit, I’ve been humiliated, embarrassed, shamed, and my privacy has been greatly violated by the other side.
They not only deposed my 10-year-old daughter, but, deposed my grown step-kids (who I’ve long been divorced from the father), friends, etc.
At one point, they even tracked down and called my new landlord. I had been living here for only one month. They’ve asked and investigated quite a bit of extremely personal information, which was very humiliating.
As you know, I never did what the RIAA accused me of. There was no need for this lawsuit to ever even take place. I did everything humanly possible from the day I received the first letter to tell them there was a mistake. I even offered for my computer to be looked at from the beginning. They didn’t want to listen. I’ll never under why they continued to put me through the drug out nightmare that they have.
The real tragedy is: the suffering undergone by the Andersens and all the others is completely unnecessary. P2p, file sharing and other forms of digital distribution are here to stay whether the Big 4, Hollywood or any of the other vested corporate interests like it or not.
Sooner or later, they’ll be forced to bite the bullet and start treating their customers with respect and as reasonable people, instead of potential criminals.
Still, the conglomerates have achieved at least one thing: they’ve created an already vast and steadily growing base of new consumers who’ll do almost anything rather than go anywhere near the Big 4, or anyone associated with them.
This in turn means the corporations will be forced to compete for the first time in their lives, and this can only ultimately mean a lowering of prices and a raising of standards, things which have been desperately needed for decades.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
If your Net access is blocked by government restrictions, try Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies. Go here for the official download, and here for details. And if you’re Chinese and you’re looking for a way to access independent Internet news sources, try Freegate, the DIT program written to help Chinese citizens circumvent web site blocking outside of China. Download it here.
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Tired of being treated like a criminal? They depend on you, not the other way around. Don’t buy their ‘product’. Do bug your local politicians. Use emails, snail-mail, phone calls, faxes, IM, stop them in the street, blog. And if you’re into organizing, organize petitions, organize demonstrations and then turn up on your local political rep’s doorstep, making sure you’ve contacted your local tv/radio station/newspaper in advance. Don’t just complain. Do something!