RIAA wants to rewrite the DMCA: No!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Image_removed_DMCA.pngWhen Congress passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, it was an unmitigated hand-out to the recording industry. Now the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wants to revisit the debate to litigate the “tech industry” this time. Ironically, the tech industry was in its infancy at the passage of the DMCA: Google was founded in 1998, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud were not even imagined at the time.

In a recent tweet, the RIAA announced:

Well it is absolutely time to “fix” the DMCA, if by fix they mean eliminate. When the DMCA passed into law, only copyright stakeholders were included at the copyright negotiating table. Stakeholders, by definition, had to be around in order to be at the table. None of the tech companies they currently attack were around when they negotiated the DMCA in the mid 90s.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/DRM_Is_Killing_Music.svg/190px-DRM_Is_Killing_Music.svg.pngThe DMCA gives record companies the ability to include Digital Rights Management (DRM) in digital music files. DRM are files that track where a file has been.While the DMCA does not mandate DRM, it does make it illegal to circumvent DRM. And DRM does all kinds of messed up things to users’ privacy: from knowing where a file circulates to acquiring information about the users.

Furthermore, the idea that the RIAA has the interest of “music creators” is entirely disingenuous. Record labels exploit musicians. When an artist signs a record contract, they receive an advance on future revenue. They have to pay back the advance from their portion of the royalties. Record labels begin to profit long before artists see any money, and most signed artists see no money.

The RIAA is a lobbying group that works for major record labels. By characterizing themselves as representatives of music creators, they do more than just rhetorical harm. The problem is that the public, and Congress, wants to believe that the RIAA has their favorite artists interests in mind. However, as I’ve argued, this gives them the leverage to strengthen their position in the music economy, and further exploit those same artists.

In the early 2000s, teenagers downloading music were the RIAA’s bad guys. Today they want you to believe that the “tech industry” companies are the bad guys. This is what I call the “Piracy Panic Narrative.” We can’t be fooled into allowing Congress to make wholesale changes to copyright law again to advance the interests of a corporate oligopoly.

Advertisements

Grammy Alliance: Another Round of Piracy Panic Narrative

video blockedAfter 3 hours of music and a much needed public service announcement on domestic violence, the Recording Academy decided to end the show with a selfish lobbying effort to create tougher copyright laws. By starting the Creators’ Alliance (dubbed #GrammyAlliance for Twitter), the Recording Academy placed itself strongly on the side of major record labels against the recording artists who constitute the bulk of the Recording Academy members. Continue reading

Copyright Rewrite: In the name of Musicians, in the pocket of Big Business

As the US Copyright Office pushes forward with plans for the largest overhaul of copyright in decades, it is important not to fall back to the same patterns that have eviscerated musicians and other creative producers. These copyright rewrites always end-up making powerful copyright interests more powerful. Continue reading

Major Record Labels See Growth . . . But still say sales are in decline

As more data is released from 2014, we can see that major record labels celebrated a year of indisputable growth. Yet, they continue to include language that makes it sound as if the industry shrank.

“While the U.S. music industry suffered through its worst sales year since the advent of SoundScan (now Nielsen Music) in 1991, streaming was so strong last year that the industry nevertheless saw growth — yes, growth — in 2014, when new metrics to measure music revenue are taken into consideration.” Continue reading

Walkman Fades Away

After three decades of fighting, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is finally about to win a battle against a music reproduction technology: the tape cassette. Sony recently announced that it will no longer produce the once popular Sony Walkman. The Walkman became synonymous with portable personal music. While the cassette technology lost out to the CD Walkman long-ago, this is notable because of the impact that the cassette had on the recording industry as a whole. Continue reading

Cloud Computing for iTunes and the RIAA is interested?

Whenever some new use of the internet to download music comes along, the Recording Industry Association of America tries to shut the action down through litigation . . . unless of course the action was created by iTunes. This time around Apple is interested in cloud computing where iTunes users can access their music database via streaming technology from anywhere there’s the internet. Users would upload their (legally purchased) music onto an Apple server and always have access to their music. Sounds good, only this idea is not new nor has the RIAA been approving of this structure in the past. Continue reading

Musicians are Laborers

Previously, I mentioned that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) won its first lawsuit against people sharing music via the Internet. As long as there has been copyright legislation, there has been “piracy” – I’m sure that someone was bootlegging print copies of Beethoven’s symphonies. However, no one had been charged for pirating something where they were in turn not profiting from its sale. Sharing music online is not the same thing as selling illegally reproduced music. Furthermore, all of this is being done in the name of the musicians – the RIAA argues that when people download music on file-sharing programs, they are stealing from musicians. But where is the money going from the RIAA’s litigation? Typically the money from lawsuits (not just about file-sharing) goes back to the RIAA and the major record labels. What follows is a brief explanation of why the RIAA and the major record labels are more exploitative of musicians than file-sharers. Future blog posts will further elucidate the erroneous nature of the music industry’s arguments about file-sharing.

Continue reading

RIAA lands a lawsuit win

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been filing lawsuits against “pirates” (aka music file-sharers) since 2003, but few people have tried to fight them. They sue users for an absurd amount of money for each song that they upload and these people usually have uploaded songs in the 1000s. In fact no case has gone to trial . . . until now. A jury “found Jammie Thomas-Rasset guilty of willfully violating copyright law” – cost: $1.92 million! You read that right, $1,920,000 or $80,000 per song and they convicted her of sharing 24 songs. Continue reading