p2pnet news view RIAA | Freedom | P2P:- A Chicago student threatened to kill herself after being terrorised by Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG’s RIAA as part of their sue ‘em all marketing campaign .
It isn’t news in the sense I posted about it over the weekend in Delete your file share apps RIGHT NOW !, and I’d heard from Mary (not her real name) much earlier than that.
Keep on reading for more on what happened to her.
R – E – S – P – E – C – T
There’s a private list which boasts many (most) corporate music industry heavies as members, not to mention lawyers, PR reps and others who work for them, or used to, RIAA, BPI, IFPI, MPAA, you name it, lurkers, people with many and various related interests, vested and otherwise —-
—- and people like me whose interests definitely aren’t vested. Unless you believe the idea that customers deserve respect, and that the now accepted music industry business practice of suing innocent men, women and children in the name of corporate profit, should be shot down in flames, falls into that category.
As Aretha Franklin once sang, all we want is a little R – E – S – P – E – C – T.
In Movers, shakers, losers and fakers, an earlier post based on the list, “The corporate music industry tries to give the impression anyone, anywhere, is at any given moment in danger of being nailed by the corporate music industry for beingmassive online distributors of copyrighted music’,” I said.
“However, literally hundreds of millions of people share music with each other all day, every day, on a variety of P2P applications. And the chances of any one of them becoming a victim are akin to their being struck by lightning, or winning a lottery.
“Or of the RIAA issuing a truthful statement.
“Nonetheless The Few, such as Brittany Kruger, are – thanks to Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG – made to suffer for the totally fictitious ‘crimes’ of The Many in hopes of disuading them from getting their music fixes from anyone other than the Big 4.”
‘… disaster for Copyfighters everywhere’
“The new Obama administration is shaping up to be a disaster for Copyfighters everywhere,” said Said Alan Wexelblat on Corante, recently. “In particular the new Department of Justice is stacked with lawyers who’ve been on the wrong side of copyright and intellectual property lawsuits for the last eight years.”He went on »»»
First off, there`s the #3 man at Justice, Thomas Perrelli, accurately described by CNET as beloved by the RIAA. Not only has this guy been on the wrong side in the courtroom, he`s fingered as instrumental in convincing the Copyright Board to strangle Web radio in its crib by imposing impossible fee structures.
Then there`s Neil MacBride, who used to be the Business Software Alliance`s general counsel. The BSA, to its credit, hasn`t been suing teenagers. Generally their name is associated with large-scale raids on companies that are mass-producing illegal copies of software. Still, it`s an industry flak group.
Then there`s the #2 man, currently slated to be David Ogden. If that name only rings a faint bell it`s because you have to cast your mind back to Eldred v Ashcroft, the argument on whether retroactive copyright term extensions were legal. Sitting over there on Ashcroft`s side? That`s Mr. Odgen. For extra-bonus ick points, Ogden also was involved in defending the heinous COPA legislation, fortunately now dead and buried (but not forgotten).
The capper on this line-up of suspicious characters is Donald Verrilli, now up for Associate Deputy Attorney General. This specimen of legal acumen is front and center in the Cartel`s jihad, having appeared for Viacom when it sued YouTube, for the RIAA against Jammie Thomas, single mother. And if we peer back a little farther, we find Verrilli`s dirty fingerprints on MGM v Grokster.
Portfolio.com‘s Julian Sanchez is quoted in Corante as saying the new crew wsill, “behave and recuse themselves properly and just because a lawyer consistently goes to bat for a certain kind of client doesn`t mean much about their professional views”.
However, the appointments of Verrelli and Perrelli are drawing a lot of discussion on the list I’ve referred to.
One side defends the two saying they’re just lawyers doing what they’re paid to do, while the other wonders if that’s all there is to it.
Below are excerpts, included with the permission of the authors, very senior people in the corporate music industry business, on the grounds that I don’t reveal their names.
I should point out these are far from being the only comments, but they’re the ones which, IMHO, are relevant to this post, and that there are several posts in high and fulsome praise of V & P, which I haven’t quote here.
Senior copyright lawyer:-
As far as I know, Perrelli did not invent the RIAA’s painfully wrongheaded approach of suing its own customers because it was conceived before he assumed his representation of the member companies in these cases.
Instead, he stood forward as willing to commit the full resources of his law firm to implement that tactic – one that failed miserably in achieving its stated goals and that caused serious harm to many regular folks. The personal impact on the defendants of those attacks were predictable and intentional.
It was an ugly business. Lawyers of his stature and skill know exactly what they are doing. These were not unintended consequences.
Verrelli seriously mis-stated the RIAA and member company positions with respect to the duplication of masters for use on an iPOD in the Grokster argument and the court ultimately rejected his attempt to reshape and overturn the Sony decision. Maybe not his fault but hardly a “victory” or an example of a great result.
I’ve been really interested in the ‘RIAA Takes Over DOJ’ exchanges, in particular those featuring Don Verrelli and Perrelli. The idea seems to be, basically, they’re clever guys – nice guys, really - who are only doing their jobs.
Where have I seen that excuse before?
Anyway, I thought others following the thread might be interested in two clips from a story I posted little while ago. They feature two young women whose studies have been disrupted by the attentions of the RIAA, its subpoenas and its settlement centre(s).
The first is about Brittany Kruger, whom I cited in an earlier … post. She said, “I have problems sleeping, my hair is falling out in ungodly amounts, I`m having a hard time concentrating in class, but most of all I hate the fact that I`ve pulled my entire family into this,” and, “Right now it doesn`t seem like this is ever going to end, I`m just now entering the tunnel and the light is miles away.”
The second is on a student who said she was going to kill herself. This was, “because she`d heard from someone at an (the?) RIAA extortion settlement centre categorically promising her she`d be taken to court unless she came up with more than $9,000 to buy the RIAA off,” I wrote, going on, “She said she was already up to her neck in debt because of school loans and had absolutely no way of finding that kind of money, or anything like it, that she couldn`t sleep, couldn`t study, couldn`t live a normal life because of the worry.”
Further down, I posted, “I eventually had a long telephone conversation with girl I mentioned earlier, the one who was threatening to kill herself, and she said she, too, would write something about her experiences. But she changed her mind after her parents agreed to bail her out. She wouldn`t tell me the price, but she said she now hoped she`d be able to get back to her studies and on with her life. I hope she does. But I have to say her escape is at the expense of providing the RIAA with another statistic, and another reason to keep on with their brutal sue `em all campaign.”
As I said on my … post on Brittany, it’s interesting how … threads on profits, licensing formulas, costings, and so on, always elicit lots of learned responses, but mention of the people in the centre of it all draws nothing but cold silence.
It’s like they don’t even exist.
Senior music industry executive:-
Jon: It’s not that I don’t care about the people whom this issues effects – I do. Indeed, I care both about the Brittany Krugers and about the musicians and rights holders affected by the dispute.
But even more than them, I care about an adversarial system of justice. It trumps everything. It’s worth a fight, even a bloody fight.
An adversarial system of justice requires good representation on both sides. I fault none of the advocates save for those who fail to do their jobs as best they can, and most especially so if it is because they have some belief that differs from their client’s beliefs or actions.
Yes, I often work on the side of big media, especially music, and I often work with those who work in opposition to big media’a interests. And I regularly contribute to the EFF (every month) just as I am a good customer (and worker) for big and little media alike.
We need strong advocacy on all sides of every question. I begrudge neither big media nor little people the best representation that can possibly be raised, the most effective voice they can muster.
Our system depends on it. Every liberty and every fate rides on hearing both sides as well-represented as possible. Truly, the Brittany Krugers need the Tom Perrellis, regardless of the side they represent in the discussion, just as those charged with the most heinous crimes, subject to the very worst punishments, require the very best representation possible.
“[...] But even more than them, I care about an adversarial system of justice. It trumps everything. It’s worth a fight, even a bloody fight. An adversarial system of justice requires good representation on both sides.”
I couldn’t agree more, especially the “good representation on both sides” part. However, with RIAA lawyers and cases, it isn’t like that. Not even nearly.
As judge Nancy Gertner stated: [ http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/02/tell-the-riaa-to-take-a-hike-how-harvard-law-threw-down-the-gauntlet.ars ]
“I’ve said this before in open court. There is a huge imbalance in these cases. The record companies are represented by large law firms with substantial resources. The law is also overwhelmingly on their side. They bring cases against individuals, individuals who don’t have lawyers and don`t have access to lawyers and who don`t understand their legal rights.”
Senior music industry executive:-
Jon: As I pointed out in what I wrote, I give monthly to the EFF, and if more people did that there would be no imbalance at all in the quality of representation.
And I emphasize: I don’t always agree with the EFF, but I feel passionately about fueling independent voices of freedom in the digital world. The EFF is the ACLU for cyberspace.
“As I pointed out in what I wrote, I give monthly to the EFF, and if more people did that there would be no imbalance at all in the quality of representation.”
This suggests you believe the EFF has, or, is the absolute answer, if only it had more money. Is the lack of finance the reason it hasn’t been prominent on behalf of RIAA victims since the lawsuits started in 2003?
“And I emphasize: I don’t always agree with the EFF, but I feel passionately about fueling independent voices of freedom in the digital world. The EFF is the ACLU for cyberspace.”
The ACLU is a wonderful organisation, and so is the EFF. But neither is able to deal with the many injustices they confront daily, let alone the issues surrounding how, and by whom, music is distributed online, and how the customers (‘consumers’) who make it all possible (and who, lest we forget, keep the labels and everyone who works for them directly or indirectly, in business) are routinely abused.
I don’t doubt for an instant, xxx, that you’re passionate about fuelling independent voices of freedom in the digital world.
But the RIAA, the people who work for it, and the record labels behind it, have zero interest interest in independent voices – quite the contrary. Their singular interest is in acting, with extreme aggression, to ensure RIAA ‘members’ are able to use the digital world to market and sell product. On their terms only. And if this means terrorising (word used advisedly) thousands of innocent (word used advisedly) Americans, and others around the world, to facilitate matters, them’s the breaks.
Messrs Verrelli and Perrelli have come under special scrutiny because they’re now members of Obama’s legal teams. But whether or not they’re shining examples of what’s right and good in the legal profession doesn’t matter. Because they were only hired hands. In their hearts, did they disagree with what they were tasked to do, but nonetheless went on to do it? Excellent question. But it doesn’t matter, either, because they went ahead and did it.
Cary Sherman, meanwhile, is possibly the longest-serving lawyer on the RIAA team, with Mitch Bainwol as the man ostensibly in charge, these days. Presumably, they did the hiring and gave the instructions. So are they, and not Verrelli and Perrelli, the ones who should be getting all the attention?
And with that in mind, do Bainwol and Sherman decide policy, strategy and tactics, with reference to RIAA members? Or are they merely tools themselves, with some other body, or group of individuals, deciding procedures and steps? Or, is piecemeal with one label, or group of labels, stating their demands on one day, and a different label, or group of labels, making demands, on another, with Mitch and Cary deciding how best to put it all together to make everyone happy?
Who initially decided to sue instead of woo, and to continue doing so? And who do they ultimately answer to? I’d love to know.
And meanwhile, with all these interesting questions begging, how long must Brittany and Tanya and Patti and Rae-Jay and Michelle and Bobby and the girl who said she was going to kill herself and all the other victims, be made to suffer?
I’d love to know that too.
February , 2009
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