FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The FBI and the Music Bosses

by Dave Marsh

The RIAA showed up on Capitol Hill the other day to demand more tax dollars to protect music.

A great idea.

Musicians can’t make ends meet by working live gigs. Record money trickles in even to the select few who have hits. Almost nobody, including many who have record deals with major labels, has health insurance or a decent pension plan. Indeed, according to a multibillion dollar RICO suit creeping through the federal court system, the record companies have colluded with one major trade union, AFTRA, to defraud singers of any hope of a decent pension.

Music education in America isn’t even haphazard; it approaches nonexistence.

Tax dollars could and should cure all this. American musicians, like all other Americans, deserve Social Security pensions that provide a genuine living (which could easily be achieved by removing the cap that limits rich people’s contributions).

Our musicians, like everybody else, deserve nationalized health care, like the inhabitants of every other rich nation on Earth.

Reassembling our education system demands massive reinvestment that can probably only come from federal tax monies. Music education would be a centerpiece of that restoration-and we could do it right this time, honoring all traditions rather than using the most elitist European ones to cudgel kids out of pride in their own.

Somehow, none of this came up in RIAA chieftain Hilary Rosen’s testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee. All she wanted to talk about was more money for CHIP.

Chip isn’t a hot new band. It’s the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property unit of the Justice Department, which means the F.B.I.

Like other F.B.I. units designed to protect intellectual property, its priorities are set by private industry-the record labels are the small fry amongst a group that includes the Motion Picture Assn of America (MPAA), which represents the movie cartel and the software giants.

Last year, the F.B.I. and the feds seized 2.8 million CD-Rs, up from 1.6 million in 2000. Arrest and indictments are up 113 per cent, with guilty please and convictions up 203 per cent and “sight seizures”-that’s where the record labels and their pet cops show up at a record store (an independent store, natch) and seize everything they don’t think is making enough money for the cartel, whether it’s illegal or not-are up 170 per cent.

Of course, by the RIAA’s terms, we commit piracy every time we share files on the Internet. That’s what the RIAA wants a bigger CHIP to deal with.

In reality, the RIAA pirated almost all the 400 million CDs sold in America last year, since the people who made the music didn’t get paid for them. But that logic would be lost on the subcommittee, since so few artists make huge campaign contributions and provide tickets to hot shows to the legislators.

This amounts to taxing us to make music more expensive.

If there has been an upsurge in piracy (the RIAA’s only rivals in unreliable statistics are the owners of major league baseball) the main blame goes to exorbitant album prices and the elimination of cheaper alternatives like singles. But the RIAA never takes any blame.

ZDNet’s quote from Rosen’s testimony is ominous: “Piracy is not a private offense. It hurts everyone by diminishing the incentive to invest in the creation of music. It should not, therefore, be viewed as a crime only against [the industry]…but against each of us.”

The most reasonable construction of this statement is that file exchanging is not just a violation of the law but a crime deserving significant punishment. It’s another step on the road to sending people to jail for sharing music.

When they’ve locked up all the music fans, who will the RIAA blame their slumping sales upon?

The artists, probably.

DeskScan (What’s playing at my desk):

1. 1000 Kisses, Patty Griffin

2. Become You, Indigo Girls (Epic)

3. The Complete 1964 Recordings, John Lee Hooker (RPM UK)

4. Sidetracks, Steve Earle (E Squared)

5. Delayed But Not Denied, The Bonner Brothers (Malaco)

6. The Righteous Ones, Toshi Reagon (Razor & Tie)

7. Arise Black Man, Peter Tosh (Trojan)

8. This World Just Won’t Leave You Alone, Star Room Boys (Slewfoot)

9. The Soul and the Edge: The Best of Johnny Paycheck (Epic Legacy)

10. A Magical Gathering: The Clannad Anthology (Rhino)

Dave Marsh coedits Rock and Rap Confidential. He can be reached at: marsh6@optonline.net

Dave Marsh’s Previous DeskScan Top 10 Lists:

April 22, 2002

April 15, 2002

April 9, 2002

April 2, 2002

March 25, 2002

March 18, 2002

March 11, 2002

Dave Marsh edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Dave blogs at http://davemarsh.us/

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail