Who's Who Of Clueless Music Industry Lobbyists Send Angry Letter To Wrong Publisher

from the nice-work-guys dept

Sometimes it just feels like the legacy music industry folks spend their time trying to make it easy for us to call them on their bizarre positions. The latest is a pretty laughable angry letter from a who's who of the organizations, who represent the past of the music industry. Signers to the letter include (among others) the heads of the RIAA, ASCAP, SoundExchange, BMI, SESAC, NMPA, AFTRA, Harry Fox and the Songwriter's Guild. The target of their scorn? Well, officially, it's the CEO of Ziff Davis, publisher of PC Mag, for publishing two articles in the wake of the shutdown of Limewire telling people about "alternatives" to Limewire. The problem? Well, beyond being totally pointless, PC Mag only published one of the articles (the one the letter seems to find less objectionable). The other article that they complained about was published by a totally different publication. Accuracy is not big with the old school music industry, it seems.

Yes, PC Mag published an article highlighting alternatives to LimeWire, just like a ton of other websites did. Anyone who was looking for an alternative to LimeWire didn't need PCMag to find them. In fact, many reports noted a noticeable increase of downloads of those alternatives pretty quickly after LimeWire went down. The lobbyists get pretty worked up about all this, though:
Let's be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire's users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire -- and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs -- including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together. Even worse is offering a direct link to a "resurrected" Limewire as follows: "I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link)."
Yes, they're quite upset about that article about the LimeWire Pirate Edition (which we wrote about as well). Only problem? PCMag didn't publish it. Nor did any other Ziff Davis publications. It was actually in PC World, which is published by IDG -- a totally different company than Ziff Davis. Now, it's not hard to confuse PCMag and PC World -- lots of people do. But when sending an angry letter condemning a publisher, you would think that maybe one of these super powerful industry lobbyist/mouthpieces would think to actually check the sources before mouthing off.

Apparently not.

Given this mistake, it should come as little surprise that the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" numbers due to "piracy" -- numbers that have been widely debunked so many times that it's almost pathological that these groups still cling to them like some talisman. Also, it's kind of funny that they imply the publishing business would feel differently if it had also been decimated by free competition (they call it "piracy," but they mean free competition). Ziff Davis is, in fact, a shell of its former self due to exactly that situation. However, the company has been trying hard to resurrect itself by actually competing in the marketplace -- something the signers of this letter could learn from.

Of course, I'm sort of curious what these groups actually think they're accomplishing with a letter like this. If it's to pressure magazines like PC Mag (or, ahem, PC World) not to publish such stories, that won't stop the info from getting out there. It will only increase the irrelevance of those publications -- especially if they feel brow-beaten by a bunch of dinosaurs, who refuse to adapt no matter how many times it's been shown to them how they can embrace the future successfully. This really feels like the sort of letter that these guys signed onto so they can show their constituency that they're "doing something" by stomping their feet, rather than actually doing something helpful like helping those they represent to adapt and embrace new opportunities. The full amusing letter is included after the jump...
We write to express our deep disappointment with your decision to publish Chloe Albanesius' October 27 article, "LimeWire is Dead: What are the Alternatives?" as well as Sarah Jacobsson Purewal's November 9, 2010 article "LimeWire is Quietly Resurrected: It's Baaack!" Both articles are nothing more than a roadmap for continued music piracy. The disclaimer in the first, "PC Magazine does not condone the download of copyrighted or illegal material," rings hollow to say the least.

Let's be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire's users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire -- and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs -- including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together. Even worse is offering a direct link to a "resurrected" Limewire as follows: "I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link)."

Our argument is buttressed by the fact that PC Magazine offered no alternatives that are 100% legal. In fact, legitimate download services, who have developed business models based on a respect for copyright and have entered into mutually beneficial arrangements with the music industry are undoubtedly outraged by your feeble attempt to undercut their ability to compete in the legal marketplace. We would hope that your sense of decency and the realization that even PC Magazine has a responsibility to the rule of law, would have informed your editorial decision in this matter. We suspect you'd feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you'd had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work. Unfortunately, it is clear that the rule of law was an afterthought.

We hope you will consider retracting the article and stating your strong support of only legal methods of obtaining music.

Sincerely,
Rich Bengloff, President, American Association of Independent Music
Ray Hair, President, American Federation of Musicians
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
John LoFrumento, CEO, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Del Bryant, President & CEO, Broadcast Music, Inc.
Elwyn Raymer, President, Church Music Publishers Association- Action Fund
Ed Leonard, Chairman, Gospel Music Association
Gary Churgin, President/CEO, Harry Fox Agency
Barry Bergman, President, Music Managers Forum-US
Jim Donio, President, National Association of Recording Merchandisers
David Israelite, President & CEO, National Music Publishers Association
Steve Bogard, President, Nashville Songwriters Association International
Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy
Mitch Bainwol, Chairman & CEO, Recording Industry Association of America
Pat Collins, President/COO, SESAC
Rick Carnes, President, The Songwriters Guild of America
John Simson, Executive Director, SoundExchange


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    I really don't think people use P2P to download music anymore.

    Anyways Jamendo is great and it is free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Careful #1. You might get an angry letter too. Because the last thing we need is more choice in life...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    All those people are stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    Maybe the guys from "Project Rant" can re-enact the letter then :)

    Some funny rants people do on the interwebz.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Why do u insist on dloading music for free if u hate artists so much? Does gettng more clicks from anon pirate followers help your advertising income?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    Nobody here hates the artists, it's the bullshit spouted by the recording industy that is hated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    So produce your own works!

    First, HA for your own accuracy, Mike: 'the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" ' -- The quoted term "job loss" appears nowhere in the referenced letter. -- Mistakes happen, such as a letter directed to wrong place, or a byline (to the side instead of properly placed in the reading stream) missed. Those don't matter except that lightweights use them to gleefully skip your main point.

    However, you go quite wacky in: '(they call it "piracy," but they mean free competition).'

    You equate "piracy" with "free competition". -- So do I! Just not quite the way that I think you intend. -- However, let's nail this down: file-sharing of copyrighted material may not be literal "piracy", but neither is it anywhere near what you surely mean by "free competition", because there's *no* exchange of value: the "content" is simply, er, used, to avoid quibbles over the "taking" of "infinite goods", without even a *reasonable* payment in return. I consider that not only unfair but unhealthy for society.

    I'll interrupt to say yet again that I'm not for the media industry: they're greedy and have bought politicians to change established rules in their favor, without no concern for anything but profit. Therefore I see little wrong with file-sharing as a way to protest the prices, particularly on material that's actually under the old rules and should now be public domain. Also, stealing from The Thieving Rich is good Robin Hood morality. -- Both the creators and the public are getting ripped off by the current regimes. Solution is *easy*: just put a cap on incomes, remove the profit motive, keep whole clans of The Rich from burdening others. -- Out of your field: not economics, but justice.

    Anyhoo, at same time, I think it fair to *protect* "content" that are easily "used" without payment. I doubt that your notions of "give product away free and hope to somehow get money" are going to work for the entire market, and in any case, that ain't current reality -- which is looking more stubborn every day.

    Yes, I've heard (often) your assertion that "piracy" actually helps the "content" industries -- and it may (I tend to agree) -- but you don't seem to grasp that they don't *want* that kind of help! If copyright means anything -- and I *wish* that it do (on the OLD terms) -- then it should prevent the copying that you say causes no harm. -- It DOES when people can be identified! Difficulty of finding people on these dang new-fangled internets is being taken care of. -- Again, I'm not for that: it's a FACT. Your refusal to recognize the actuality of the transformation of law and practice while proclaiming your idealism is going to serve you ill. Odds are high that moneyed forces will win, and to some degree "piracy" antagonizes them, and to *some* degree justifies their actions too.

    Similarly, to some degree, "pirates" are bringing on draconian regimes. -- In my view, it's because large masses of dolts so eagerly consume crap, and many pay ridiculous prices for it. -- In my view, if you want exciting content for "free", it's best to create it yourself (we used to call those hobbies), and even if not as good (which one should be objective about), it's truly yours, attuned to your tastes (which may be TOO illuminating). Just analyze flaws ruthlessly, and keep refining it. The process is its own reward.

    So instead of this endless bickering about copyright (which *always* ends up as the expectation / continuation of ridiculous incomes), TURN OFF THE TV and produce your own content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 3:40pm

    Re: So produce your own works!

    Okay, calm down.

    I have to say, when you're making short points, you usually make sense...even if some of it is angry noise.

    But all of your large rants have been entirely incoherent...

    Personally, I'm trying to tell if you're a newer, more robust troll. Make some short and sweet posts that aren't frothing at the mouth to look sensible, then go full-on darryl at the drop of a hat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    They can't get address right for a magazine publishing an article yet we are to believe they have IP address correct for suing purposes?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: So produce your own works!

    out_of_the_blue spouted:

    The quoted term "job loss" appears nowhere in the referenced letter.

    There are at least two different reasons for putting things in quotation marks. One is to literally quote what someone is saying. Another is when you don’t agree with the idea being expressed. The part Mike was referring to was pretty clearly this: “We suspect you'd feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you'd had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work.”. If that’s not a claim of “job loss” numbers due to “piracy”, I don’t know what is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Re:

    Why do u insist on dloading music for free if u hate artists so much?

    I don't download music for free (unless it's offered that way by the musician) and I love artists and help them make money.

    Not sure why the slew of wrong assumptions. Perhaps you're confused?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 4:15pm

    Re: So produce your own works!

    irst, HA for your own accuracy, Mike: 'the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" ' -- The quoted term "job loss" appears nowhere in the referenced letter.

    Um. "place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs" and "We suspect you'd feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you'd had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work."

    Right. Thanks.

    You've been making a lot of comments lately that make absolutely no sense. You should fix that.

    You equate "piracy" with "free competition". -- So do I! Just not quite the way that I think you intend. -- However, let's nail this down: file-sharing of copyrighted material may not be literal "piracy", but neither is it anywhere near what you surely mean by "free competition", because there's *no* exchange of value: the "content" is simply, er, used, to avoid quibbles over the "taking" of "infinite goods", without even a *reasonable* payment in return. I consider that not only unfair but unhealthy for society.

    What "you consider" is not what economics says. Economics says it's competition. I prefer to trust actual economics rather than an anonymous commenter who has a long history of misunderstanding basic concepts.

    I doubt that your notions of "give product away free and hope to somehow get money" are going to work for the entire market, and in any case, that ain't current reality

    Funny. I made this point to you THIS MORNING, and yet you still repeat that myth. That is not the model I suggest. In fact, I have argued directly AGAINST that model:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080522/1545021204.shtml

    I'm not sure why you feel the need to repeatedly misrepresent what we say. It's really quite odd, especially when it has already been pointed out to you.

    Yes, I've heard (often) your assertion that "piracy" actually helps the "content" industries

    Another fallacy (I don't believe you've posted a single accurate thing in this entire post). I believe that freeing your works (not piracy) *in combination* with a smart business model helps the content intudstries.

    but you don't seem to grasp that they don't *want* that kind of help

    Of course I recognize that. But that is of no matter. The market is not stopped.

    Odds are high that moneyed forces will win, and to some degree "piracy" antagonizes them, and to *some* degree justifies their actions too.

    You have an interesting view of history. Wrong, but interesting. The tech wins out in the end. Moneyed interests win out in the short term. But long term, it always loses.

    So instead of this endless bickering about copyright (which *always* ends up as the expectation / continuation of ridiculous incomes), TURN OFF THE TV and produce your own content.

    That makes no sense. Oh well. Fitting conclusion to a comment that makes no sense.

    Please, I have asked you before to stop making false accusations about my positions. I will ask again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Ben, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    wait wait wait.

    Hold the phone here.

    People still used limewire?
    Have they not heard of torrents or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    sherpalou (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    "our music"

    To those who styles themselves as "The Music Industry": The day you succeed in enforcing full control of "your" music will be the day the music-loving public stops caring. You will be be able to keep all of it to yourselves, thus assuring the final demise of parasitic middlemen. Music is loved because it is ours, (listeners and artists together) not yours. DRM encumbered files? Keep em, they're useless to me. I would rather do without music than support you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: So produce your own works! funny shit

    That is some funny, insidery shit. Stomach hurts...

    Good work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:18pm

    Why do u insist on dloading music for free if u hate artists so much? Does gettng more clicks from anon pirate followers help your advertising income?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:20pm

    Re: So produce your own works!

    Sad. A troll that can't read with any comprehension. Regarding your first point on job loss, reread paragraph 2 of the letter.

    Good trolls are fun, you are kind of sad....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:30pm

    Re:

    Wow. Are you struggling to be relevant like the music industry?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Re:

    Lay off the weed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Re:

    It gets worse when you think about three strikes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 24th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re:

    Why do u insist on dloading music for free if u hate artists so much? Does gettng more clicks from anon pirate followers help your advertising income?

    Did you really just repeat the same exact comment we already told you was completely wrong?

    Would you like me to repeat my response more slowly?

    (1) I do not download music for free. I pay for all of my music, except for the ones that come from artists who choose to give it away free.

    (2) I do not hate artists. I love artists and work with many of them, helping them make money.

    (3) We don't make all that much from advertising. Just not our business.

    (4) Um, and the "pirate" folks are generally the ones who use adblock and ignore ads anyway.

    (5) Anything else? Or will we have to repeat this again in a few hours?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Nov 25th, 2010 @ 3:04am

    Re: So produce your own works!

    tl;dr

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Nov 25th, 2010 @ 4:43am

    Re: So produce your own works!

    "TURN OFF THE TV and produce your own content."

    Wow, other than the other fallacies and lies that you spout that have already been addressed by others here, I just want to ask how you think this makes any sense.

    The TV. The thing that I paid money for, that provides me with hundreds of hours of potential entertainment FOR FREE, every single day? A business model that's been running since the '50s and that I don't have to pay a single penny for unless I wish to get cable/satellite channels? I should turn that OFF if I want content for free, and only then make if I it for myself?

    You people really don't think this crap through, do you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    dev, Nov 25th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Salaries

    Look at that big list of people. I bet they all get paid handsome salaries. I wonder where at that money comes from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Nov 25th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    PCMag has responded:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2373273,00.asp

    Oddly, they neglect to mention the part about being the entirely wrong magazine for one of the complaints...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Yea the salaries just for the signees must be over a billion a year. Hate to lose that. What a drag. Welcome to unemployment suckers. Just like the rest of us. Actually they sent all the music jobs to India. So if you lost yours go to India and demand it back. Forget going to Washington and demanding it back, none of those idiots even hear you, old ones and new ones alike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Jim B., Nov 25th, 2010 @ 11:13am

    Why do people need to prove they are artists and entrepreneurs before they can have a say on what is patently ridiculous? Continued false claims are short-lived and no one pays attention in the long run. When you keep repeating the same puerile nonsense no one will believe you ever.

    The numbers oft quoted by the RIAA are not factual and are not repeat-worthy.

    Find another argument or move on. And, a lot of artists believe the real pirates are the RIAA cartel members.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Paradroid (profile), Nov 26th, 2010 @ 4:27am

    Clueless idiots

    I blogged about this, are they gonna go after everyone in the blogosphere too?

    Morons - how dare people have their own opinion instead of the BS these guys keep spouting. Just give out cheap enough (or value added) DRM-free digital downloads so downloading for free becomes more hassle than paying, easy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 26th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re:

    "it's the bullshit spouted by the recording industy that is hated."

    I actually enjoy the stuff they spout. Its a modern day version of what occured when the car was invented. It is something that will be taught in business and psyche courses for years to come. there is so much in the way of data, unlike when cars disrupted buggy makers. or light bulbs disrupted candle and oil lamp makers.

    Its actualy pretty neat watching a disruptive technology wipe out an industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 26th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    I just realized something ... If the coica bill becomes law they could just have the entire magazines web site shut down. Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants ... them shutting down the wrong web site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    the old rang, Nov 28th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Alternatives to pointing out their 'lack of research skills'

    There are many things the 'music industry' legal beagle accountant types do that seem... well, less than well thought out.

    I think it might help, to assist them in learning what research is not being done by them, and the mass media.

    Like, how much they paid the 'unbiased and only care for 'us'' politicos, to allow THEM to write the laws for the members, so they didn't have to have any screening of illegal inserts.

    This is money, they did not share with the poor artists, and used to ultimately line 'their' pockets, too.

    Detailed how much of all settlements, fines and fees are distributed to... other than artists and the creators of the products, not the bilge. Percentages would be most illustrative of who they are defending....

    List all the artists that had to sue the 'industry' to get paid proper percentages, and how long the industry fought them....

    List how many started independent labels because they were sick of the rip off from the industry...

    And, as one that really doesn't participate in the music industry, that much...

    Any other details you might know, that I am ignorant of...

    Enjoy dishing the dirt they and their political bedmates want no one to ever know about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 10:05pm

    Re: Re:

    He's probably confused because your blog is devoted to slagging the music labels and offering intellectually dishonest defenses of the pirate sites.

    Oh, and your claim that piracy hasn't had any effect on music sales or caused massive job losses in the industry is one of the most fucked up things I've seen you write yet. You are unquestionably a sociopath.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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