Starting today, and continuing over the next few days, I’m re-publishing a number of p2pnet stories highlighting RIAA depredations against Big 4 customers. And lest we forget: it’s easy to see these crimes against ordinary people, including young children, as being perpetrated by faceless corporations.
However, highly intelligent, highly educated men and women such as Jay Berman, Hilary Rosen, Mitch Bainwol, Cary Sherman, Amy Weiss, Jenny Engebretsen, Cara Duckworth and Jonathan Lamy, all of whom have been, or still are, dedicated RIAA troopers, have been knowingly and deliberately using the mainstream media to subject innocent people to public ridicule and embarrassment accusing them, without a shred of hard evidence, of being “massive online distributors of copyrighted music”.
I believe some 40,000 people were victimised in this way.
Only two ultimately reached the US civil court system, but the primary objective had been achieved:
- Create a climate of terror under which to operate a bizarre marketing campaign.
Remember: all of these atrocities — because that’s exactly what they are — were carried out in the names of artists the labels have under contract, and “rights holders”, ie, the major labels, or one of more of their scores of subsidiaries.
Thanks and Cheers!
Jon Newton – p2pnet
p2pnet.net News View:- “For me, the experience of settling with the RIAA was almost painless – except for the thousands I agreed to pay. Dragging my ‘shared’folder to the trash icon, promising not to download anymore, and acknowledging that illegal downloading is wrongful were easy enough,” writes Nick Mamatas in the Village Voice.
“I happened to know an intellectual-property lawyer who agreed to handle the negotiations pro bono. He was the one who called the RIAA settlement center number and spoke not to a lawyer, but to a staffer empowered and trained to negotiate. ‘It feels like they’re doing a volume business,’ my lawyer told me.”
Most settlements top $3,000, and some can go as high as $7,000, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) policy analyst Annalee Newitz is quoted as saying in the Village Voice story.
Actually, some have gone considerably higher than that. But who’s counting? Because the lawsuits are no more than the sharp end of an on-going, multi-million-dollar, anti-p2p PR blitz custom-designed to generate gallons of ink and billions of bytes in the on- and offline media.
The object of the exercise is to indelibly characterize men, women and children who share music and other files with each other online as vicious, hardened criminals out to bilk the hard-pressed entertainment industry and its hard-pressed workers out of what’s rightfully theirs.
But just as music industry claims that there’s a thriving, reasonably priced online business are completely false, the accusations that file sharing is causing terrible financial losses to the industry and awful hardship to its workers, are equally without foundation.
International singing star and musician Joni Mitchell said in a Rolling Stone interview:
“I’ve been screwed from the beginning … the deal that I got was just atrocious. I mean, it was like slave labor, really – no points, no budget. And I’ve never really had a good deal in the business.”
She also said, “Now, this is all calculated music. It’s calculated for sales, it’s sonically calculated, it’s rudely calculated. I’m ashamed to be a part of the music business. You know, I just think it’s a cesspool.”
Nor is Mitchell by any means alone with her performer’s view of the Music Biz, which cynically casts itself as a tough but scrupulously fair entity which ultimately has the best interests of its artists and customer bases at heart.
In truth, it’s an industry run by venal, narrow-minded, chronically ignorant and technically challenged people who have no idea how to treat either the music fans or the performers who have made them so very, very wealthy. The executives are instead making a religion out of refusing to accept the fact they’re no longer in the physical 1970s, but in the digital 21st century.
As Britain’s The Economist said recently, “So far they [the record labels] have been slow to embrace the internet, which has seemed to them not an opportunity but their nemesis.
“Rather than putting their product on file-sharing applications, they are prosecuting free-download users for theft.”
File sharers are victims of the music industry’s greed, not criminals. When someone shares a digital music, or any other, file online with someone else, it’s not a criminal offence.
No sales are made and no money changes hands. Nor does the act of sharing a file with someone automatically mean the loss of a sale to the entertainment industry, its sanctimonious protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
The music labels claim there’s a ‘thriving’ alternative to file sharing – the corporate online music ‘stores’ such as Apple’s iTunes and Napster II. But the corporate online music sales business is so insignificant that to all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist.
Only an infinitismal proportion of online music lovers use the corporate backed and supplied sites. And that’s because in their greed, the labels wholesale their mp3 tracks for between 65 and 75 cents each, forcing the retailers to charge around a dollar a track. And the labels want to increase, not decrease, this already extortionate price.
So of course, no one is buying. Instead, they get their music from one of the p2p networks, or from a site such as AllofMP3.com which sells mp3s for pennies instead of dollars.
As Edna Gundersen wrote recently in USA Today, peer into the depths of cyberspace, “and a big-bang picture unfolds. The stockpile is boundless, a boom in availability that could change buyer habits. Fan forums are spontaneously sprouting around artists and trends, from teen girls touting Incubus, Green Day and little-known emo heartthrobs at Xanga.com to hip-hop buffs advocating regional acts at Down-South.com.
“It’s a phenomenon the music business has yet to capitalize on …”
In short, p2p, file sharers and the p2p networks aren’t the enemies of the Big Music cartel: they’re the means by which EMI, UMG, Warner and Sony BMG could salvage their failing fortunes. They could, and should, be using peer-to-peer applications as their primary marketing, promo, sales and distribution vehicles, in the process cutting the counterfeit criminals off from their principal sources – physical product in the shape of the billions of CDs and DVDs the entertainment industry and software makers pump out endlessly.
Big Music cartel ‘settlements’
The criminals aren’t the people who have had enough of being ripped off by the cartel. Nor are the p2p networks and application operators (they could have, and should have, been used by the labels to enter the digital 21st century) the means by which crimes are being committed.
The true criminals are the highly skilled international organized crime gangs who routinely dance rings around the record label and move studio cartel executives who run the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), and so on.
Gundersen says, “Unlike iTunes or Napster, enthusiast sites place community above commerce, earning credibility and loyalty that are crucial to luring youth dollars. That’s one of the sticky challenges facing an industry that alienated downloaders with steep CD prices and piracy lawsuits.”
Music industry spin doctors use the ‘settlements’ as PR fodder. They tell the media they’ve successfully ‘sued’ thousands of people for breaking the law: for sharing files, in the process depriving them of their rightful earnings.
That these people have ‘settled’ is used to suggest that by doing so, they’ve admitted guilt of some kind.
However, none of this is true, or even nearly true.
And no one has been sued.
What’s happened is: approaching 10,000 people have received frightening subpoenas, documents most of them had never heard of before, let alone actually seen. But not one of the subpoena recipients has ever appeared in a court, and fewer than 2,000 ‘cases’ have actually been ‘settled’.
An average $3,000 settlement multiplied 2,000 times comes to what? And the labels have never said where the money goes. But you can bet it doesn’t reach the hands of the hard-pressed workers the industry holds up as victims of file sharing.
Most of those who agreed to buy the RIAA off did so only because they literally had no other alternative.
They simply didn’t, and don’t, have the financial or legal resources to take on the multi-billion-dollar industry with its bottomless pockets, teams of lawyers and obscene political influence.
It’s as if the labels have taken the famous line from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather where Brando says chillingly, “I’ll make him an offer he don’t refuse.”
Well, the RIAA makes its victims offers some of them don’t refuse ‘Pay us. Or else’.
As RIAA spokesman Jonathon Lamy admits in the Village Voice, so far, “none have come to trial”.
In the meanwhile, no one has ever been found guilty of the crime of ‘file sharing,’ all the mainstream media reports to the contrary notwithstanding.
The time-honoured, almost sacred, principal of Innocent until proven Guilty is mocked by the entertainment industry which, with the active and enthusiastic assistance of the mainstream media, regularly and routinely holds people of all ages up as criminals who have been tried and convicted of the heinous crime of sharing with each other online.
And while all of this happens the true criminals – the counterfeiters and duplicators who use the readily and universally available physical software, music and movie CDs and DVDs as masters with which they make and sell their own ‘product’ underground – count their profits, virtually unscathed.
Jon Newton - p2pnet
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Village Voice – Meet John Doe, Village Voice, March 7, 2005
volume business – – Evelyn and the RIAA, p2pnet, February 6, 2005
The Economist – Music’s brighter future, October 28, 2004
infinitismal proportion – The Digital Music Revolution, January 19, 2005
AllofMP3.com – Big Music loses to AllofMP3.com, p2pnet, March 7, 2005
USA Today – Music fans reach for the stars, March 9, 2005
- p2pnet RIAA Special, 5. Us, Them, p2p and file sharing http://www.p2pnet.net/story/35028
- p2pnet RIAA Special, 4. P2p file sharing contained: RIAA http://www.p2pnet.net/story/35024
- p2pnet RIAA Special, 3. Big Music university shill report http://www.p2pnet.net/story/35022
- p2pnet RIAA Special, 2. The ‘We’re Not Taking Any More’ club http://www.p2pnet.net/story/35016
Climate of terror
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