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Occupation, Resistance and the Plight of the GIs

[Editors’ Note: With the RIAA declaring a jihad on music listeners and Senator Hatch threatening to blow up the computers of music swappers, we asked one of our favorite music industry critics, BILL GLAHN, to write an irregular column for us on the music industry’s rampages. JSC/AC]

When Hilary Rosen announced in January that she would be stepping down as head honcho of the RIAA at the end of the year, the spin was that she wanted to spend more time with her children. Since then she has announced a new career with CNBC in which she will appear on no less than three political talk shows and provide coverage of the 2004 elections. That’s a taxing schedule by any measure. So much for the kids.

Ah, but let’s be fair. Rosen’s recent profile has been low key by her normal standards, leaving a bevy of underlings to handle the press’ questions regarding the RIAA’s recent announcements that they intend to alienate music fans on a massive scale. Maybe she is easing into the role of proud papa, at least until she gets her TV gig going.

The speculation over Rosen’s replacement at the RIAA got a fresh injection recently when a spokeswoman for Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono told the Associated Press that the CEO job at the RIAA would be the “perfect job” for Bono. No doubt. A couple of years ago the Human Rights Campaign gave Bono a dismal nine percent positive vote rating. Nothing about her voting record has changed since. Rosen’s assessment of Bono? “I think she’s great.”

Judging by Rosen’s attempts to stifle culture, not only in the U.S. arena, but throughout the globe, that assessment is not surprising. On another level, however, it is. Part of Mary Bono’s voting record includes a vote against same sex partnerships and a vote against gay adoptions. Rosen’s family incorporates both. Rosen has earned a reputation as a team player, but apparently that doesn’t include the “home” team.

Bono has since denied any serious pursuit of the RIAA job. Not that they would hire her anyway. She’s too valuable to them right where she is. She’s already bought. The entertainment industry is her single largest campaign contributor. It’s already paying dividends.

Bono has a reputation as being a follower, not a leader. While she frequently votes as a staunch conservative, she rarely initiates legislation. That could be changing. She has recently formed a Congressional caucus on intellectual property rights which, considering her close ties to the industry (her personal income is largely dependent on royalties from late husband Sonny Bono’s compositions and recordings) will probably end up introducing legislation giving the death penalty for unauthorized downloads. Or maybe extending copyrights to 5 millenniums before they enter the public domain.

Considering the RIAA’s top priority, Internet “piracy”, a more logical candidate for the job of CEO might be Frank Creighton, the head of the organization’s anti-piracy division and a loyal policeman for that organization since 1985. But Creighton has shown little in the way of political savvy and mainly serves as the organization’s media face (a handsome and accomplished speaker when the cameras are on). My money is on lobbyist Mitch Glazier, who has experience at getting the RIAA’s agenda turned into law under cover of darkness. He comes from the same cesspool that launched Rosen’s career. He’s an accomplished bagman. But for now, the RIAA aren’t giving any clues.

BILL GLAHN is the author of Piss On It!: the Best of Live Music Review, to be published this fall by BigO Books. He can be reached at: live@positech.net

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