Indie Music Association Comes Out In Favor Of Seizing Domain Names Of Blogs That Promote Their Music

from the sad dept

If there ever were a group that should be embracing new business models and encouraging the music industry to look forward instead of back, you would think it would be A2IM -- the American Association of Independent Music. After all, they don't have the same legacy issues facing the big four record labels represented by the RIAA. Instead, they can be more creative and willing to experiment with what works well. In fact, over the years, we've noted some really cool and unique experiments done by lots of truly creative and innovative indie labels -- including many who are members of A2IM (and even some represented on A2IM's board).

Yet, we've noticed an unfortunate pattern. A2IM often seems to want to be the "mini-RIAA," frequently staking out identical positions on the issues, and simply adding a "me too" to whatever the RIAA says. Early on it came out in support of ACTA. It's also been involved in astroturfing campaigns in favor of 3 strikes laws, and most recently, argued against the concept of net neutrality (Update: to be clear, as Bengloff explains in the comments, they were only against specific aspects of a proposed net neutrality plan). The group's leadership has effectively admitted at times that they take orders from the RIAA. For example, on the issue of ACTA, A2IM's President, Richard Bengloff, admitted he had not seen ACTA, but supported it because the RIAA told him to.

The latest situation is particularly egregious. Jesse Townley, who runs the famed indie label Alternative Tentacles (Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra, Butthole Surfers, etc.) alerts us to an email that Bengloff has sent out, urging indie labels to write to John Morton, the head of ICE, the Homeland Security group that seized all those domain names last month under highly questionable methods:
To Independent Labels, Creators & Service Providers who rely upon music having value:

For years we have called on government to help fight Piracy, including those websites that promote the devaluation of music and disregard the rights of creators by leaking music early and without permission. Both the Obama Administration and the Congress have started to provide creators much needed support in recent months. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency has taken aggressive action against infringing websites, recently seizing the domain names of 82 sites. Since then ICE, and its Director John Morton, have been taking heat in the blogosphere and in some print media for their actions. It is imperative that the music community let the Administration know just how vital ICE's actions are, and how much we appreciate them.

We need to show them some love for their action! PLEASE send a note to John Morton thanking him for what he's doing.

This letter, which also highlights a recent A2IM press statement, was sent to the Obama administration by A2IM today. They need to hear from our members across the country now!

Use the A2IM letter as a guide, but please personalize your letter... And express your support for the current actions of U.S. Homeland Security detailed in the attached link press release
Yes, you read that right. A2IM, which is supposed to represent independent labels, is supporting the government seizing domain names of sites with no due process, no First Amendment review. Even worse, as it has become clear, the "evidence" against these sites involved songs that were sent by the copyright holders, and the sites in question were well known within the industry for being key places to promote new music. In fact, some of them were near the top of Vibe's top hip hop blogs list, and were well known places for promoters, labels, artists and DJs to go to promote their works.

So why would an organization like A2IM come out in support of that? It seems that they've just decided to hop on the "blame piracy!" and "the government must save us" bandwagon, rather than actually helping their member labels adapt to the world we live in. Pretty sad when labels that supposedly represent the independent and innovative spirit run to Homeland Security to try to shut down some blogs. Why would any indie label want to support that?

Townley also was kind enough to share his response to A2IM, saying that "This flies directly in the face of record labels trying to be flexible & USE blogs for promotion, which all of us smart ones are doing (among many other things)." I doubt A2IM will listen, but maybe it's time for the really innovative indies to form their own group that doesn't focus on demonizing fans and treating them like criminals, but actually helps these labels and the artists they represent embrace new opportunities online.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:27am

    This is really cool. Evolution in action. There shoud be a business version of the darwin awards.

     

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  2.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re:

    On the same "evolution" theme...

    I be the dinosaurs are pissed that they didn't have a big government to turn to when they needed the climate-shift caused by the meteor impact to be legislated back to support them. The need for adaptation sucks, huh?

     

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  3.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:54am

    Reap what you sow

    If A2IM wants to be lil' RIAA, then they better be ready to face the same public opinion that the RIAA "enjoys". What concerns me is that with the apparent failure of the RIAA's tactics to 'stop piracy', why would A2IM want to jump on that ship? If I see some guy trying to bang a nail into a wall with his forehead and it's not working... I don't think I'd walk up next to him and start trying the same feat.

     

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  4.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re:

    "bet the"... typing too fast. >_>

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:59am

    I think they have long since figured out if everyone is getting fat on free samples, it is very hard to sell them the main course.

    These aren't the fat old record labels you guys love to hate, these are the smart, nimble, internet able, social media mavens who are suppose to make up the future, and remarkably, they are coming to some of the same conclusions as the fat old record labels.

    I dunno. Take the word of a blogger and his mini-me choir, or take the word of people actually working in the business hard choice.

     

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  6.  
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    cc (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:03am

    Re: Reap what you sow

    The more the artists/labels panic about piracy, the more money the RIAA-types are given to fight it. No matter how much the RIAA is despised by the general populace, they are still making shitloads of money for themselves and the lawyers they employ!

    In other words, it's a successful business model that A2IM aspires to copy, if only they can stir panic within the labels that employ them. Those labels would be very wise to distance themselves from A2IM as soon as they can!

     

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  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Re: Reap what you sow

    "What concerns me is that with the apparent failure of the RIAA's tactics to 'stop piracy', why would A2IM want to jump on that ship? "

    Because the new tactic is to takedown websites by seizing there domain names. RIAA basically owns the Justice department. That won't change until two years from now when we have a new president, or until the seizures are challenged in a court of law and found unconstitutional.

    Basically, it is their last hoorah. The only thing left for them is jail time for infringers and criminalizing the 14-28 year old range (14-32 in a couple years) is a political non starter.

     

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  8.  
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    cc (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    Ehm, we aren't talking about the indie labels, we're talking about A2IM. As you failed to see, the story was actually submitted to TD by the CEO of an indie label.

     

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  9.  
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    cc (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re:

    General manager, not CEO. Potato, Potaato.

     

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  10.  
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    coldbrew, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:24am

    Re: Samples

    So, most of the grocery stores that hand out samples on the weekends are doing it wrong? Perhaps your motives need to be re-examined? This is getting ridiculous. Are you going to adapt to the new reality (that isn't artificially imposed by the gubment) or not?

    Please tell me your solution is not to "tell dad on me," please. Costs for the music business have come down substantially over the years; from the equipment to the production, to the promotion, to the distribution. You could act like a pure Luddite and go smash the machines in the middle of the night...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:26am

    More control freaks.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Thanks for the 411 TechDirt. I'm an indie and I won't join them now.

     

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  13.  
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    Rich Bengloff, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:38am

    A2IM

    Having just read your blog I feel compelled to respond: * First A2IM does advocate the use of new media and other new business plans to promote and monetize our member's music. This is evidenced by the numerous white papers issued by the A2IM New Media Committee over the past two years and the numerous educational events on those papers and music licensing events that have been held across the country by our organization during the past two years. The need for changed business models is also illustrated in our independent music Roadmap white paper and follow-up meetings we have likewise held across the country, stressing the need to experiment and adopt new business models and be more creative in our businesses. Those models advocate including distributing music for free to engage our fans, often for limited periods of time, when our members decide it's appropriate. * We represent music labels and sometimes agree with the RIAA's positions as favorable to our member’s interests. We also have often not agreed with the RIAA's positions. Examples include when it came to A2IM taking a position on webcasting rates (just ask Tim Westergren or Joe Kennedy of Pandora, Jim Rondinelli of Slacker and many others), AM/FM radio ownership rules (we filed a statement with the FCC during their quadrennial review this year) and new licenses for local stations (passed this week, we applaud Congress) and Net Neutrality. We have filed three statements with the FCC in favor of Net Neutrality, all on the public portion of the A2IM website, and have made numerous public statements in favor of Net Neutrality. Ask our friends at the Future of Music Coalition and they will share with you our staunch ongoing support of Net Neutrality. In fact the exception you now cite above, opposition to the Google/Verizon proposal, was because we found that proposal to water down our position on Net Neutrality and actually be an anti-Net Neutrality position due to the allowing a separate pipe for specialized services and the exempting of mobile from the open access rules, especially with no assistance being offered by Google/Verizon to fight piracy. A2IM does support fighting internet piracy, as well as a reasonable interpretation of the Federal DMCA rules that can protects creators, and welcomes both private and public support, so that our members can continue to make a living and invest in the creation of new music and not just be used by tech companies to build their business models with no regard for copyright and intellectual property creation. An international solution like ACTA is appropriate. As it relates to ACTA, and anti-copyright activist Geist's comments, the RIAA did, at my request, send me the unaltered available abstract of the ACTA proposal so I could get background on where ACTA was headed. A2IM made no public comment until we received from the ACTA group their full report (check our website posting and you can see the timing) and A2IM supported the proposal because we find ACTA to be in our members best interests. We are NEVER told what to do by any other organization, only by our members who include independent music labels of all sizes, the majority of whom are struggling to make a living at what they love, creating music. After hearing from them; we only do what we feel is in our member’s best interests. We can agree to disagree on issues; that is what healthy public debate is about. We just kindly ask that in this debate that your blog please go to our public website, www.a2im.org, and check your facts before potentially distorting our positions and maligning our organization. Respectfully, Rich Bengloff President A2IM

     

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  14.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:43am

    A2IM labels

    You cannot begin to fathom how angry this news makes me.

    Two A2IM member labels have used my music podcast as a promotional avenue for their music: OM Records and ESL Music. I have quite a few emails from them stating I had permission to play their music on my show. OM even sent me half a dozen promo CDs, and Thievery Corporation's people came directly to me, gave me an album and gave me permission to play music from that album. What's more, one of my favorite music podcasts plays TONS of music from A2IM member labels -- labels that work with that show's host directly and practically send him dozens of new releases every month to play on his show.

    And the organization that represents these labels has the unmitigated gall to suggest that I'm somehow distributing their music illegally, and that the government has every right to seize my domain with no trial and no due process of law, which flies in the face of the United States Constitution. Never mind that the copyright holders GAVE ME PERMISSION TO DISTRIBUTE COPIES. In the eyes of the A2IM, I'm a pirate, and I must be stopped by any means necessary.

    OM and ESL just lost a promotional outlet today. No more A2IM music, period.

     

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  15.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    Political non-starter, my ass. Prison is a huge growth industry in America.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Re: A2IM

    Rich,

    Thanks for posting here.

    Would you please answer a simple question for me:
    Does A2IM support due process?

    And following up:
    Does A2IM agree that the core idea of due process involves "notice and a fair hearing"?

     

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  17.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: A2IM

     

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  18.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    That won't change until two years from now when we have a new president

    Our next president is going to ban lobbying? If not, then I don't think who the president is matters much at all.

     

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  19.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    These aren't the fat old record labels you guys love to hate, these are the smart, nimble, internet able, social media mavens who are suppose to make up the future, and remarkably, they are coming to some of the same conclusions as the fat old record labels.

    These aren't the fat old middle men, they're the slim, new middle men trying to ape the fat old middle men.

    Color me unconvinced.

     

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  20.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:07am

    Re: A2IM

    Mr. Bengloff,

    I have some rather important questions for you:

    1.) Do you admit to signing your name and sending member labels the letter that was published in this Techdirt article?

    2.) If so, do you admit, then, that you support the government's action to seize of domain names of music blogs and podcasts without a grand jury indictment or other due process of law, as outlined in the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution?

    If the answer is yes to both of these questions, then I simply cannot trust that your organization will allow me to play the music of its member labels without the threat of government persecution. Your actions suggest here that I can no longer play songs from the CDs that OM Records and ESL Music have sent me, because there's clearly a possibility that your organization will use my playing those songs on my show as evidence that I'm criminally liable for copyright infringement.

    Maybe that's not such a big loss for you, given that my show only has a little over 10,000 listeners and you can reach a lot more people through services like Pandora and Jango. Nevertheless, unless you publicly reverse your position in that letter, at least two of your members have lost a promotional outlet today.

     

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  21.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: A2IM

    The old middle men are dead, long live the new middle men.

    I am confused about a few lines in that wall of text (seriously, try to organize those thoughts, man!) that perhaps you'd be so kind as to clarify:

    The need for changed business models is also illustrated in our independent music Roadmap white paper and follow-up meetings we have likewise held across the country, stressing the need to experiment and adopt new business models and be more creative in our businesses. Those models advocate including distributing music for free to engage our fans, often for limited periods of time, when our members decide it's appropriate.

    I am unclear how you can distribute a digital file for free for a limited time. (probably due to my own misunderstanding of what you mean by "for a limited time") Once it is out there, it is out there forever, is it not?

    A2IM does support fighting internet piracy, as well as a reasonable interpretation of the Federal DMCA rules that can protects creators, and welcomes both private and public support, so that our members can continue to make a living and invest in the creation of new music and not just be used by tech companies to build their business models with no regard for copyright and intellectual property creation.

    Are you saying that you feel that internet piracy should only be fought when a company is using the work commercially? If yes, does this mean you don't support suing fans sharing for no commercial gain? If no, do you really think suing music fans will help your members "continue to make a living and invest in the creation of new music"?

    Thanks for your time!

     

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  22.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: A2IM

    I guess they can agree to disagree that due process is or not important. Maybe they can agree to disagree whether accusations of jaywalking deserve the death penalty even if based only on unproved hearsay and without a trial.

    It's all about agreeing to disagree.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    "The more the artists/labels panic about piracy, the more money the RIAA-types are given to fight it."


    Since my tax payer money is already being used to fight piracy...not completely unlike the rents on Canada burnable media...I will continue to piss and shit all over the Music labels and now indie music labels bottom lines....may they turn red. Merry Christmas.

     

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  24.  
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    rabbit wise (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    So, just out of curiosity, are Mike's fembots' words not withstanding as well or is it just the mini-me choir?

     

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  25.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Re: A2IM

    "This is evidenced by the numerous white papers issued by the A2IM New Media Committee over the past two years and the numerous educational events on those papers and music licensing events that have been held across the country by our organization during the past two years."

    I cannot find any useful details on your website about the white papers or events that aren't restricted to members access only, limiting the validation of your point. Further, two years could be considered very late to the game considering iTunes, widely recognised as the digital 'revolution', started nine years ago.

    "stressing the need to experiment and adopt new business models and be more creative in our businesses. Those models advocate including distributing music for free to engage our fans, often for limited periods of time, when our members decide it's appropriate."

    How are free samples either new or creative? So far I have visions of your educational events detailing that one bit of basic advice and then spending the rest of the time repeating the same rhetoric as big industry. Please paint me a prettier picture.

    "A2IM made no public comment until we received from the ACTA group their full report (check our website posting and you can see the timing) and A2IM supported the proposal because we find ACTA to be in our members best interests."

    A quote from the article Mike linked to regarding your ACTA comments:

    'Richard Bengloff, from A2IM (representing independent labels), admits that they decided to support ACTA despite not having seen it. He says that someone from the RIAA "briefed him" on the background and that was enough for them to support it wholeheartedly'.

    "We just kindly ask that in this debate that your blog please go to our public website, www.a2im.org, and check your facts before potentially distorting our positions and maligning our organization."

    The only fact you have contested is the one about ACTA and for that you are asking that we ignore what you said in favour of what you later decided was the official position. Unless you want to contest Mike's report of your actual comment then his facts seem to be just fine and it is your actions that malign your organisation.

    As an aside, if you are having trouble with paragraphs then I recommend you make sure that plain text is selected before posting a comment.

     

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  26.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    I was thinking more along the lines of the voting public.

    The record labels and studios know the 14-28 year old age group is lost to them, they rarely buy music or video. It is extending up the age groups and accelerating.

    14-28, now
    14-32, 2 years
    14-36(37), 4 years
    14-42, 6 years
    14-50, ~8 years
    EE, 10-14 years

    Basically the chart is the same as what happened in Spain and South Korea but with longer time periods. In both Spain and South Korea the government is enforcing the laws in a very half hearted way. Look at Portugal which has a 3 year jail sentences on the books for file sharing, which I do not believe has ever been enforced for fear of massive public outcry.

    Of course they could try 3 strikes, but in the US that has 1st, 4th, and 14th amendment issues just like this test run of domain seizures. The french Hadopi law hasn't kicked anyone offline yet so we can watch how well that one works over the next couple months. My guess is people will adapt making the law obsolete.

    It all points to domain seizures being the last hoorah for RIAA and MPAA and their ilk.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:25am

    Re: A2IM labels

    Dave, perhaps in the future you will get it in writing. If they sent you promotional CDs and told you that you could use it, make sure they give it to you in writing.

    email headers are easily forged, anyone with a lick of intelligence could have pirated the material and emailed you permission.

     

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  28.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    "Our next president is going to ban lobbying? If not, then I don't think who the president is matters much at all."

    I was talking about the current RIAA types working in the Justice department not being there is 2 years.

     

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  29.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:28am

    Re: A2IM

    interesting, you say here that you made no public comments as a group regarding support of acta until you had a full copy of it and yet you were on a panel supporting acta where you stated that you had not read the full document but only been briefed by neil turkewitz and point blank said that you didnt see the actual document until later.
    mind you, i watched it... i did not read it from somewhere else.

    as to the rest of your comments, i find it interesting and somewhat telling that you are making a much larger stand to try and point out that 'no one tells *You* what to do' rather than discussing the actual issue that this particular article is about which is your support of DHS/ICE seizure of domains without any 1st/4th amendment considerations.

    after i consider my two points, im not sure how much faith i could put in any statement you make from here on out but please do feel free to respond...im all ears...

     

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  30.  
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    cc (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Re: A2IM

    You claim that you are only told what to do by your members, and that you do only what is in your members' best interests. So why on earth are you supporting ACTA, and why are you supporting web censorship?

    Unless your job is limited to doing "not exactly" what the RIAA is doing, and you are satisfied with supporting things like ACTA and COICA (whose ramifications you only superficially understand, apparently) just because the RIAA told you they're "good", your labels might as well go join the RIAA.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    "business version of the darwin awards."

    lol man

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: A2IM

    I guess they can agree to disagree that due process is or not important.

    From Mr Justice Black's concurring opinion in Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v McGrath (1951):

    MR. JUSTICE BLACK, concurring.

    Without notice or hearing, and under color of the President's Executive Order No. 9835, the Attorney General found petitioners guilty of harboring treasonable opinions and designs, officially branded them as Communists, and promulgated his findings and conclusions for particular use as evidence against government employees suspected of disloyalty. In the present climate of public opinion, it appears certain that the Attorney General's much publicized findings, regardless of their truth or falsity, are the practical equivalents of confiscation and death sentences for any blacklisted organization not possessing extraordinary financial, political or religious prestige and influence. The Government not only defends the power of the Attorney General to pronounce such deadly edicts, but also argues that individuals or groups so condemned have no standing to seek redress in the courts, even though a fair judicial hearing might conclusively demonstrate their loyalty.

     . . . .

    And from the Appendix to Mr Justice Black's opinion in that case:

    APPENDIX TO OPINION OF MR. JUSTICE BLACK.

    James II, the last Stuart king of England, was driven from his throne in 1688 by William of Orange. After a brief sojourn at Saint Germains in France, James landed in Ireland, where he was supported by those Irish Catholics who had suffered greatly at the hands of the English Protestant colonists. One of his first official acts was to call an Irish Parliament, which enacted the bill of attainder described by the historian Macaulay as follows:

     . . . .

    A list was framed containing between two and three thousand names. At the top was half the peerage of Ireland. Then came baronets, knights, clergymen, squires, merchants, yeomen, artisans, women, children. No investigation was made. Any member who wished to rid himself of a creditor, a rival, a private enemy, gave in the name to the clerk at the table, and it was generally inserted without discussion. . . .

    Days were fixed before which those whose names were on the list were required to surrender themselves to such justice as was then administered to English Protestants in Dublin. . . .

    As it was not even pretended that there had been any inquiry into the guilt of those who were thus proscribed, as not a single one among them had been heard in his own defence, . . .

     . . . .

    What should we Americans think about an organization that disagrees with due process?

     

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  33.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re:

    What should we call this business version of the darwin awards?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re: Samples

    No, but the grocery stores never give you enough to be satisfied. You never get enough free samples to make a meal, example.

    In music, you give someone a sample that they can keep and enjoy. On your 18 cut CD, 18 websites each give away 1 sample. Someone aggregates those samples, and gives away 18 sample "packs" on a torrent site. End discussion, they music lover got their "meal" and has no reason to go shopping.

    As for the rest of your comments, I guess by your standards actually wanting to get paid for something I create makes me a luddite. How horrible that is!

     

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  35.  
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    Tim Westergren, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Response from Pandora Founder

    Given my, and Pandora's experience with Rich Bengloff and A2IM, I wanted to weigh in on this issue. A2iM has worked tirelessly to support innovative new business models that also respect copyright. We have seen these efforts firsthand and have no doubt that Rich Bengloff and his organization are looking forward not backward.

    Tim Westergren
    Founder, Pandora

     

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  36.  
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    CaseyContrarian (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:24am

    A2IM is not RIAA

    Hey Mike,

    Casey from Future of Music here. Not gonna wade into the substance of the ICE takedowns (I wanna enjoy my damn break!), but I will say that I don't believe that A2IM is "RIAA Jr."

    WHen Rich and I talk, we disagree on a bunch of stuff, and agree on a bunch of other stuff. A2IM is an independent group with members that are anything but monolithic in their perspectives on the business. Although there are plenty of disagreements about what I personally consider an appropriate approach to some stuff, I have full confidence that A2IM arrives at their conclusions on their own.

    And I can tell you that, having been deeply involved in the net neutrality debate from the music side, A2IM are staunch supporters of the open internet. They have also been really great in combating institutional payola and the market/regulatory structures that enable it. Not any RIAA love there, let me tell you.

    Anyway, I hope you all have a good holiday. And Mike, I'll see you in Vegas at that thing we're on...

     

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  37.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "What should we call this business version of the darwin awards?"

    The Enronies?

     

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  38.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Change my arse

    Don't so be naive.

    This is all about "big business" versus "the little guy". Party politics really have nothing to do with it. Changing the furniture in the White House or Justice Department isn't going to change anything. If anything, the current situation with "Mr. Change" is conclusive proof of that.

    My Red State GOP Senator spouts the same nonsense rhetoric in support of Hollywood as anyone else in Washington does.

    Sometimes I wish my Congressional delegation would realize they are not from California.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    ... looking forward not backward.
    “Technology changes rapidly. Human nature changes at a more glacial pace.”

     

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  40.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    Re: A2IM

    * First A2IM does advocate the use of new media and other new business plans to promote and monetize our member's music. This is evidenced by the numerous white papers issued by the A2IM New Media Committee over the past two years and the numerous educational events on those papers and music licensing events that have been held across the country by our organization during the past two years. The need for changed business models is also illustrated in our independent music Roadmap white paper and follow-up meetings we have likewise held across the country, stressing the need to experiment and adopt new business models and be more creative in our businesses. Those models advocate including distributing music for free to engage our fans, often for limited periods of time, when our members decide it's appropriate.

    Advocating new business models is good, and as I've noted, many of the indie labels have embraced such models, but I have a hard time believing that you really support such new models if, at the same time, you support things like ACTA and seizing domain names. Those are the exact things that kill off new business models.

    We have filed three statements with the FCC in favor of Net Neutrality, all on the public portion of the A2IM website, and have made numerous public statements in favor of Net Neutrality. Ask our friends at the Future of Music Coalition and they will share with you our staunch ongoing support of Net Neutrality. In fact the exception you now cite above, opposition to the Google/Verizon proposal, was because we found that proposal to water down our position on Net Neutrality and actually be an anti-Net Neutrality position due to the allowing a separate pipe for specialized services and the exempting of mobile from the open access rules, especially with no assistance being offered by Google/Verizon to fight piracy.

    Fair enough. I've edited the post. However, the letter you signed onto concerning net neutrality did make it clear that any such rules should exempt ISPs from acting as censors.

    A2IM does support fighting internet piracy, as well as a reasonable interpretation of the Federal DMCA rules that can protects creators, and welcomes both private and public support, so that our members can continue to make a living and invest in the creation of new music and not just be used by tech companies to build their business models with no regard for copyright and intellectual property creation..

    See, it's disingenuous statements like that that are the reason why A2IM looks ridiculous. Members who embrace new business models can continue to make plenty of money in ways that have nothing to do with piracy. And presenting this as an "us vs. them" fight between labels and tech companies is wrong and makes you look petty. There is no such thing. You're making up a bogeyman.

    An international solution like ACTA is appropriate.

    Even when you haven't seen the details, and when it appears to skirt around national laws? Even when it exports the enforcement angles without the exceptions? No, sorry, it's not appropriate.

    As it relates to ACTA, and anti-copyright activist Geist's comments,

    Again, you lose credibility with that statement. (1) It was not Geist's comments, but YOUR WORDS that I heard in the video that I commented on. (2) Michael Geist is not "anti-copyright." Just saying that, again, makes you look petty and disingenuous, setting up bogus "enemies" that don't exist.

    the RIAA did, at my request, send me the unaltered available abstract of the ACTA proposal so I could get background on where ACTA was headed. A2IM made no public comment until we received from the ACTA group their full report (check our website posting and you can see the timing) and A2IM supported the proposal because we find ACTA to be in our members best interests.

    You said in the video that you supported it. I'm not talking about the statement on your website, but the statement you yourself made on record.

    All that said, I find it a little scary that you make NO COMMENT whatsoever about the lack of due process and the first amendment violations of the the domain name seizures. You also make NO COMMENT on the fact that there appears to be cases of these seized domains being seized due to music the labels sent them specifically to promote.

    I find it troubling that you're so happy to support shutting down one of the more popular avenues of promotion that many labels and musicians use.

    Why?

     

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  41.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    Given my, and Pandora's experience with Rich Bengloff and A2IM, I wanted to weigh in on this issue. A2iM has worked tirelessly to support innovative new business models that also respect copyright. We have seen these efforts firsthand and have no doubt that Rich Bengloff and his organization are looking forward not backward.

    Tim Westergren
    Founder, Pandora


    Hi Tim, quick question: how did you come across this blog post. Given the timing of Rich's comment, your comment, and Casey's comment, I'm just wondering if Rich emailed you guys and asked you to comment.

    That said, supporting new business models is one thing, supporting the illegitimate seizure of domain names, violating the 1st & 4th amendment is another.

     

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  42.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:15pm

    Re: A2IM is not RIAA

    Casey from Future of Music here. Not gonna wade into the substance of the ICE takedowns (I wanna enjoy my damn break!), but I will say that I don't believe that A2IM is "RIAA Jr."

    Fair enough. It just seems like on the big issues, A2IM always seems to be tagging along.

    WHen Rich and I talk, we disagree on a bunch of stuff, and agree on a bunch of other stuff. A2IM is an independent group with members that are anything but monolithic in their perspectives on the business. Although there are plenty of disagreements about what I personally consider an appropriate approach to some stuff, I have full confidence that A2IM arrives at their conclusions on their own.

    Again, every time it seems to be an important issue, I don't see much independent thinking. I see very old fashioned, bunker mentality thinking. Rich's response above is typical. He sets up false bogeymen, pretending that certain companies and people are "anti-copyright."

    And I can tell you that, having been deeply involved in the net neutrality debate from the music side, A2IM are staunch supporters of the open internet.

    Fair enough. I updated the post to reflect that.

    Anyway, I hope you all have a good holiday. And Mike, I'll see you in Vegas at that thing we're on...


    Yup. Seven panelists on a 1 hour panel. I imagine we'll each have about 30 seconds to speak. :)

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Samples

    What's a CD?

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:26pm

    Re: A2IM

    Calling Michael Geist anti-copyright makes you look anti-intelligent.

     

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  45.  
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    CaseyContrarian (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    Can't speak for Tim, but I read TechDirt every five minutes and get the morning email and everything.

     

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  46.  
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    Jim Mahoney, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Re: A2IM labels

    Hi Dave. Rich's post included the statement, "Those models (that A2IM's and our members embrace) advocate including distributing music for free to engage our fans, often for limited periods of time, when our members decide it's appropriate." It's clear we support the use of music on a gratis basis for promotional uses when it's granted by the copyright owner.

    That should make it clear to anyone interested in separating the truth from typical white noise.

    A2IM is a large group of independent music master owners of many business models and opinions. The one thing they have in common is that they are seeking to make a living from investing in music they love and support.

    The Internet has proven to be BOTH beneficial to independents and a serious blow to revenues for many, many independents threatening their ability to continue to invest in artists and music creation. A2IM, in seeking a balance that takes into account creators' rights, technology, and fans is fighting for all parties invested in the financial health of music creation.

     

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  47.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    thats great tim... but the problem isnt that a2im isnt supportive of new business models and as such it has little to do with the issue being talked about here.

    unlike masnick, i could care not care less how you got wind of the conversation but rather, want to hear your points that are ON topic rather than bringing up irrelevant points that are not.

    its a nice character reference to be sure, but for my part, im looking for answers to the questions being posed, not to find out if he is a good guy or not.

    as i have stated before, not going to hold my breath for any real answers, but ill totally welcome them should you care to comment.

     

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  48.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Buggy Whip Awards?

     

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  49.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    You do realize that "blogger" isn't a derogatory term, right? In fact, it's not even a term with any meaning beyond "person that writes a blog"

    Experts write blogs. Idiots write blogs. People in the industry write blogs. People outside of the industry write blogs.

    If you are going to attack someone, attack them by questioning their actual qualifications, not the fact that they are "a blogger". Mike might not work directly in the music industry but he is pretty heavily involved in it in lots of ways, including being invited to speak at lots of the biggest industry conferences, and he's a trained economist... the fact that he's a "blogger" doesn't mean anything.

    Plus, as a previous commenter pointed out, this story was sent in by the manager of a highly successful record label.

     

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  50.  
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    Karl (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Reap what you sow

    I was talking about the current RIAA types working in the Justice department not being there is 2 years.

    I somehow doubt a change in Presidential leadership will force these people out. This is one area, sadly, where both parties are bought equally.

     

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  51.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: A2IM

    sure we can agree to disagree that jaywalking penalties can vary from a warning to incarceration (personally thinking the former is more appropriate than the latter). but what we should be careful not to 'agree to disagree' on are items such as constitutionally protected rights.

    rather than using such trivial issues like jaywalking, try it with those espousing and promoting the values of the nazi party. most would agree their viewpoints are harmful and ultimately invalid in a modern age (i certainly do) but they do and should have the right to express their political viewpoints. if you are unwilling to stand up to defend the rights of those you disagree with, how can you expect to have your rights respected once someone decides to start looking at your viewpoints as dangerous.

    there are times when you are right with the whole agree to disagree... but constitutional rights however, should not be one of them.

     

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  52.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: A2IM labels

    It's clear we support the use of music on a gratis basis for promotional uses when it's granted by the copyright owner.

    However, these recent blog seizures were based on tracks sent to the blogs in exactly the way Dave and you describe: as promotional material to be shared with permission from the copyright owner.

    Now those blogs are facing seizures and legal ramifications. And A2IM supports those seizures.

    So how can anyone trust the promotional material you send them ever again?

    If anything you claim about your organization embracing free promotional material were true, you would be opposing ICE's actions in this case.

    So I'm afraid it doesn't seem very true at all...

     

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  53.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Samples

    the following is my own viewpoint:

    give me a better reason to buy your music than 'i have 18 songs on a cd and you should buy it cause i said so'.

    no one is saying that wanting to get paid for your creations makes you a luddite... but i will say as a personal viewpoint, that expecting to get paid simply because you created something and have not gone to any lengths to make me actually WANT to buy your creation does, in fact, make you a luddite.
    (as a side note, look up the origins of the term luddite, its actually very apt for this conversation)

     

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  54.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: A2IM labels

    email headers are easily forged, anyone with a lick of intelligence could have pirated the material and emailed you permission.

    There is nothing to suggest that's what happened with the recent ICE seizures. You are so desperate that you are making up wild hypotheticals to support your position.

    Are you saying that absolutely no business of any sort should be conducted by email? Because your point could easily be applied to any important discussion happening via email.

     

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  55.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    Re: A2IM

    I am curious. You claim:

    After hearing from them; we only do what we feel is in our member’s best interests.

    And yet in this case, you sent a letter to all of your members encouraging them to voice their support of ICE's actions. As we can see from Jesse Townland's case, clearly your members do not unanimously support this, and at least one was incredulous at your position.

    So if you only act after hearing from your members, what sparked this letter? Did your members approach you, voicing their overwhelming support for the seizures and requesting that you rally the organization behind them?

     

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  56.  
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    Jesse Townley (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Wow, this is a pretty good thread- glad that there are real people from A2IM involved with this thread- it's a lot more helpful to understand the specifics. I'm happy I was able to apparently instigate it!

    Also, while I'm flattered that we're described as "highly successful" (we HAVE survived for 31 years as a fully independent label!), we are going through some pretty tough times like many labels are. Click on the link on my name above to support us directly (hint hint).

    Here are 2 things that I posted at the bottom of the item that started all of this yesterday that I'd like to be considered in the context of this blog post.

    1st post:
    I actually just got off the phone from an hour-long conversation with Jim/A2IM. He made the effort to call me, and while he certainly stood his ground he also stressed that they want other labels involved & running for their board of directors to make sure that they're not top-heavy with old-guard record business people. Flattering, to be sure.

    It's impossible to summarize our long-winded conversation here, so I'll highlight one key point where we disagreed. He said that government pressure is needed to force people to the table- the recent attempt at setting performance royalty rates for radio that's been sunk by the end of the Congressional term is one example. In this one, Congress said to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that they needed to negotiate w/ the RIAA, A2IM, & music publishers or Congress would get involved & whatever came out of that would be much much worse than an internal industry agreement.

    I pointed out AT's very negative history with this approach. First, there was the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which pitted Tipper Gore (wife of former VP Gore) & other jerks against everyone from Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, and my boss & AT's owner, Jello Biafra, trying to force the music industry to self-censor and if the industry didn't do it, then the government would. Second, at around the same time, Jello's house, our distributor, and a L.A. record store were all raided for "peddling obscenity," a.k.a. selling Dead Kennedys "Frankenchrist" which had an HR Giger insert. We went through a hellacious legal process that ended with our right (& everyone's right) to put out challenging and edgy art confirmed by the jury.

    We have a very strong aversion to heavy-handed government intervention in the arts, to put it mildly.

    P.S.- We are also fully engaged in selling music & music-related products to our fans & customers. We do a fair amount of digital promotion, which includes giving away some tracks for free. It seemed that Jim was aware of a huge grey area between super-pirates & the RIAA, but our discussion kept on getting caught up in there just being "2 sides."

    2nd post:
    I want to be clear- the conversation was pretty wide-ranging and while there was some agreement, there was also a fair amount of disagreement.

    Also, this was all between myself and him, and my statements here & in my conversation with Jim represent only my own opinion, not that of Alternative Tentacles Records or Jello Biafra. Jello can & will speak for himself if he wants to.

    It WAS a friendly discussion. I was happy to have an in-depth conversation with someone who's also put a lot of time into these issues, even if I think he leans towards too much towards erring on the side of restriction rather than creative freedom.

    What's the cliche? "Some of my best friends...?" Ha ha ha...

     

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  57.  
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    Jesse Townley (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    P.S.- Alternative Tentacles is NOT a member of A2IM. We considered it a few years ago but haven't taken the plunge.

    Endorsing ICE's entry into this fight is a pretty big black mark for me, personally, although I DO appreciate their work on other issues- including the endorsement of net neutrality.

    The question for us is whether it's worth the pretty steep dues ($1,000/year) to join an industry group that we're only half-heartedly in agreement with.

     

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  58.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Alternative Tentacles is NOT a member of A2IM

    Bah, I am flubbing the details and I hate when I do that. Apologies!

    I am still curious, however, as to how A2IM reached the decision to send out this letter, and if it was truly something their members pushed for.

     

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  59.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: A2IM

    As Jesse clarifies below, Tentacles is not a member - I was confused on that point. Apologies!

    Nonetheless I am still curious about how you reached the decision to send out this letter.

     

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  60.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: A2IM labels

    "Now those blogs are facing seizures and legal ramifications. And A2IM supports those seizures."

    Bingo.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, Mr. Mahoney. Your organization publicly supports a government policy that opens music podcasters like me to CRIMINAL LIABILITY. Mr. Bengloff can talk all he wants about working with new media to promote his labels' music, but how can we be certain someone else working for the A2IM won't look at our podcasts, unilaterally declare that we're violating your members' copyrights, and suggest to the ICE that our domains should be seized in a blatantly unconstitutional manner?

    If Mr. Bengloff wrote and distributed that letter that was published here, then it's clear that I can't trust him, I can't trust you, and I can't trust ANYONE involved with the A2IM, because just like the RIAA, your organization's right hand doesn't know what it's left hand is doing.

    Unless the A2IM reverses its stance on the ICE's seizure of these domains, I cannot and will not work with your member labels any further. It's that simple.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Samples

    have not gone to any lengths to make me actually WANT to buy your creation does
    This is retarded.

    If it wasn't offered for free, and you wanted to have the songs to play whenever you wanted, your only option would be to buy it.

    Your demands are fallacious.

    But none of this matters anyway. The time is quickly approaching when if guys want to have a song, you're going to have to pay for it.

     

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  62.  
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    mike allen (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re: A2IM

    make that 3 promotional outlets i wont use A"IM even on my over the air shows.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: A2IM labels

    However, these recent blog seizures were based on tracks sent to the blogs as promotional material to be shared with permission from the copyright owner.
    Bzzt. Wrong.

    First of all, those blogs had way, way more infringing material than the 4 songs in dispute; Reynolds said at the beginning of the affidavit that the examples he gave were not the limit of what was discovered and investigated. Secondly, do you have a document from the copyright owners that those songs could forever be downloaded for free into perpetuity?

     

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  64.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Business Version Of The Darwin Awards

    The formal name should be something like “The Academy Of Business Obsolescence Awards”.

    The informal name should be “The Buggy Whips”.

    Guess what we should offer as a prize...

     

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  65.  
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    Dave (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    Of course, Pandora would publicly support an organization that publicly supports the unconstitutional seizure of domains that promote music. Why would any RIAA money-laundering scheme do otherwise?

     

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  66.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Samples

    If it wasn't offered for free, and you wanted to have the songs to play whenever you wanted, your only option would be to buy it.

    Buy it, huh? So, I pay $1.29 to iTunes and I own the song? Or did I just license it? I think all that it's-not-a-purchase-it's-a-license nonsense has cultivated a society that *knows* they don't own it after they "buy" it, so they figure they don't really have a reason to give money at all.

    Your demands are fallacious.

    You are saying that you *don't* believe you need to give your customers a reason to buy your product above-and-beyond the fact that it was created at all? Excellent business strategy. Or, is it an exit strategy? Who can tell?

    But none of this matters anyway. The time is quickly approaching when if guys want to have a song, you're going to have to pay for it.

    Everyone step back, I'm going to try science. Click on a song. Press Ctrl-C. Press Ctrl-V. Do you now have two identical songs? Well, what do you know, it worked! So, what was that about the death of piracy, again?

    If a ten year old kid on a 5 year old computer can break your 50 year old business model, then you need a new business model.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Samples

    "But none of this matters anyway. The time is quickly approaching when if guys want to have a song, you're going to have to pay for it."

    What?! Radio will be outlawed?

    Finally those pirates don't deserve music for free.
    Shutdown all music blogs also they keep offering music for free that labels sent them.

    All software that records sound will be outlawed, synthesizers will be outlawed, and true pirate forums will be shutdown at last.

    I don't know how they will do it, but I have total *cough*confidence*cough* that it will happen somehow.

    LoL WTF LoL

    Those delusions are approaching the bottom of the "hilarious-meter".

    When they close down all internet radio, all radio stations and places like Jamendo, Magnatune, CC Mixers, archive.org and other places I will not laugh so hard, but I'm still gonna laugh hard because you can not only copy vynil you can also copy CD that have not changed because people don't care to upgrade to a new format, although the industry tried really hard, but all the new formats proposed failed to gain traction, why?

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A2IM labels

    "Secondly, do you have a document from the copyright owners that those songs could forever be downloaded for free into perpetuity?"

    Right there is the reason you should never ever make publicity for free for those guys ever.

    They will use you and when it suits them they will throw you to the wolves.

    People doing this publicity work for them for free to people who would get you in trouble is not worth it, people who don't put their works on a open license are not worth it, they will always screw you and that is just because they can.

     

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  69.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A2IM labels

    Pretty incredible that, if there was tonnes of infringing material, the four examples he chose to highlight ALL turned out to be such highly questionable cases. Are you sure you feel safe making the assumption that most of the other content was definitely infringing? If these are the songs he chose as his representative examples, doesn't that suggest that the majority of material is similarly questionable?

    And with regards to your request for a document, no, I assume they don't have such a document. But it is ridiculous to suggest that a record label sending you a song and saying "please post this on your blog for everyone to access" doesn't count as a license. And even if it doesn't, it is questionably legal (at best) for a label to send music to a website then go to ICE and complain about the website having that music. One would think that ICE would frown on that practice, if it weren't just blindly obeying the RIAA in this matter.

     

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  70.  
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    Not The Crowd, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:44pm

    Re: A2IM labels

    I don't think they speak for everyone

     

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  71.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Samples

    But none of this matters anyway. The time is quickly approaching when if guys want to have a song, you're going to have to pay for it.

    You seem to think we are in for a surprise, but hoo-boy do you ever have that backwards.

    That statement is either terminally clueless, or you are some sort of mad scientist working on a device that will allow you to control the ears of everyone in the world.

     

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  72.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Re: Business Version Of The Darwin Awards

    The formal name should be something like “The Academy Of Business Obsolescence Awards”.

    The informal name should be “The Buggy Whips”.


    I really like this idea....

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:46pm

    I run a pretty small independent label (staff of 4 downsized from a high of 10 about 10 years ago). I'm a member of A2IM. I've learned a lot from the staff and from getting to know other members. I don't agree with A2IM all of the time. I don't agree with any other person I know all of the time.

    I do worry that I might get "free promotioned" right out of business. I don't like the idea of non-infringing websites being shut down without evidence that they were infringing and I don't trust politicians. However, I have just as many problems with people that go way out of their way to trash anyone that dares suggest that music fans should pay for the music they acquire and the more vitriol that is spouted the more convinced I get that all of what they say is really just BS aimed at protecting their perceived right to grab any song they want for free. Currently any artist or label that speaks up and says that music has value is threatened, labeled backwards, or labeled as being unfriendly to fans ("demonizing fans" is a term that gets thrown around and was used in this thread and Tim Westergren says a few kind words about A2IM and is called a money scheme for the RIAA...see what I'm saying?).

    I find it to be utterly childish and disheartening to read comments that essentially say, I think you're wrong so you must be stupid and anyone that agrees with you must be bad or stupid and, further, I must punish them ("oooh, I won't play any Om or ESL music any more"...really? REALLY?! I taught my kids not to behave like that when they were in grade school).

    The digital revolution is about 12 years old now and there are still only 4 digital outlets that make me any money worth paying any attention to at all (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and SoundExchange) and physical retail is dropping by huge percentages every year. We have a pretty robust direct 2 fan business, we have a pretty well known logo and do ok on vinyl and merch but that stuff is so expensive to manufacture that the profit margins aren't very good and we don't sell more than a couple hundred of any t-shirt or 1500-2000 units of vinyl. We occasionally get a nice synch license (but we get less of those these days as competition is fierce). I make a living but am not rich and my staff members just get by (and I appreciate them a lot). From our income we pay salaries, health insurance, taxes, rent, utilities, supplies, recording costs, marketing costs, manufacturing, mechanical (publishing royalties), master (artist) royalties, and costs associated with running our website and d2c store. It's a challenge every month to keep things moving forward but we love what we do and will keep trying. I like making a living doing this but I also enjoy knowing that our staff has helped introduce and support careers of dozens of very talented musicians (who, for the most part, I stay in touch with and tell me that our label should keep on going).

    Our music gets a decent amount of play and I suppose each of the bloggers and websites that feature our music think they're doing us a big favor. Of course, I've been on both sides of this. They mostly play the songs/artists we have that are established but then love to take credit for the new artists AFTER they've become established (nothing new there...it was that way in the "old" business too...it's our fault. we make "tastemakers" get an inflated sense of self by giving them names like tastemakers).

    I don't know if most of the posters here on TechDirt are right about this. I don't know if A2IM is right about this. I do know that when I have a question or a problem A2IM's staff is always available to try to help me. If you posters are wrong, ultimately, will you want to be shunned as terrible people that hurt music and were stupid puppets of Verizon or Google? Probably not. You're probably quite sincere in your hearts. I think A2IM might deserve the same benefit of the doubt if they happen to be wrong about the ICE seizure.

    Sorry for the long post but I've been at this a while and it saddens me that our society now seems to dictate that if you disagree you must bash and question the integrity of the person that doesn't see things your way.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    An artist who shares without biting back later

    and who contributes to techdirt.com periodically
    http://mimiandeunice.com/about/
    http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: A2IM labels

    Are your podcasts used for profit?

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:41pm

    I don't think A2IM should be all kiss-ass with the government.

    They're not the ones shelling out millions of dollars to congress. They're not the ones "training" ICE. They're not the ones having their lawyers hired by the US Attorneys office and promoted to judges.

    The RIAA could just as easily direct ICE to seize an A2IM member site that they claim is selling music sampling one of their songs, or featuring an artist who's under contract with one of the big four.

    They could also decide to shut down a music blog or news site if it's focusing too much on independent artists. All they would need to do is send in a few tracks for promo and lie to ICE that they were "stolen" and "pre-release" material. The site would be seized and no injunction ordering the removal of just the tracks in question.

     

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  77.  
    icon
    Jesse Townley (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Hi fellow label!

    I definitely identify with most of what you write. We also work very hard on taking good care of our loyal customers while trying to sell enough to support our bands & ourselves.

    For me (and I'm not speaking for the label or Jello), this thread's main point concerns A2IM endorsing the heavy-handed & very possibly unjust action by ICE. I think it's definitely a due process issue that turns the "innocent until proven guilty" standard on its head. It's my inner ACLU peeping out, but this has been clouded by the myriad other issues mentioned above.

    I'm not making a blanket condemnation of A2IM, but A2IM's decision to be a cheerleader for this kind of stuff makes me doubt its judgement. It's as if a music industry group had busted out with a "Let's send the L.A. D.A.'s office a thank you letter for busting those Dead Kennedys perverts" back in 1985, ya know? (Obviously, if it turns out the blogs that were impeded by ICE are all illegal file-sharers, this comparison is accurate, though I'd still strongly suggest A2IM support different ways to deal with illegal-file-sharing)

    P.S.- If you're willing to drop me a line at my e-mail above, I'd like to communicate further privately about this, thanks!

     

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  78.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 1:28am

    Re: Response from Pandora Founder

    "A2iM has worked tirelessly to support innovative new business models"

    Sadly, they haven't enabled you to re-initiate international coverage of your service that many people like myself used to enjoy. Now, I'm paying one of your competitors (Spotify) who are allowed to offer me a service.

    A shame your business is dependant on such short-sighted people.

     

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  79.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Re:

    A few thoughts...

    "I run a pretty small independent label"

    I wonder why you neglect to mention which one?

    "I do worry that I might get "free promotioned" right out of business"

    You're certainly not doing a good job of promoting your own label on a free forum.

    "Tim Westergren says a few kind words about A2IM and is called a money scheme for the RIAA."

    Welcome to the internet. Every web forum has people who react in immature and unthoughtful ways, or who troll deliberately. They're also full of people who espouse their honestly held views. Was that accusation necessary? No. Was the person espousing that view representative of everybody on here? No.

    If Tim, yourself or others want to understand what their consumers want, try talking to them rather than telling them what they should think. There's plenty of intelligent, polite and insightful posters here who would be happy to have a conversation with an actual label head or CEO o tell them what they think and why they think it.

    Sadly, Tim's original comment was an uninformative bit of corporate fluff with no insight, rather than an attempt to engage his audience or address the actual criticisms being made against A2IM. Such a comment does not often invite useful discourse or polite commentary.

    "Currently any artist or label that speaks up and says that music has value is threatened, labeled backwards, or labeled as being unfriendly to fans"

    There's often a lot of truth in those statements. I've certainly been demanding a service that's still not offered to me legally in my country of residence despite demanding it for over 15 years. Meanwhile, I'm labelled a "pirate" for not bowing down to the backward demands of the entertainment industry. I don't "pirate", by the way, I just don't purchase individual downloads in the same way I used to purchase CDs (and it's been years since I bought a CD). I would be happy to go into this further if you wish to have a conversation.

    "I think you're wrong so you must be stupid and anyone that agrees with you must be bad or stupid and, further, I must punish them. ("oooh, I won't play any Om or ESL music any more"...really? REALLY?! I taught my kids not to behave like that when they were in grade school)."

    Childish? No. It's called "voting with your wallet", and it's often the best way to protest a company's actions. If your organisation espouses anti-consumer views that I disagree with, I can refuse to buy your product (just as, for example, I may choose not buy from organisations who abuse the environment or employ children in 3rd world sweatshops).

    Since the industry doesn't seem to listen to its consumers directly, it's about the only form of protest available. One that the industry tends to ignore because they automatically assume "lost sales = piracy", but it's all we have.

    "there are still only 4 digital outlets that make me any money worth paying any attention to at all (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and SoundExchange)"

    That speaks volumes about your attitude. You ignore some of the larger European and worldwide outlets and ignore newer businesses that are starting to become profitable. You also conveniently forget how the music industry's own attitude toward downloads completely stunted early adoption of digital music (e.g. DRM making it very difficult for people who didn't choose to own an Apple device, refusal to licence music and insistence on placing international restrictions on every site), while ignoring the factors that led people to want it in the first place.

    "You're probably quite sincere in your hearts."

    We're also your potential customers. Mocking us for our sincere views is hardly the way for us to buy your products. Perhaps that's why your refused to identify yourself and your label...

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 2:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Samples

    Mixtapes came before file sharing. You can't stop people sharing music, movies and books. It will never stop, no matter what you try. The world has changed, and continues to change, and trying to stop it or turn back the clock is foolhardy at best.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 3:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A2IM labels

    What is the relevance of your question? If they are giving him the music to play and promote, then profit does not enter into the argument.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 3:49am

    Re:

    First off, yes, I do pirate the occasional track. I freely admit it. Then again, I have no other way of really getting a taste of new or independent artists. If I don't like it, I wipe it. If I do, I go out of my way to scrape up the money to buy. I know I'm not alone in this. To me it's the same as going to a book store and reading a random chapter of the book. It helps people decide.

    In no way do I support those who just blindly pirate whole albums for the sheer joy of having a huge collection.

    However, I do have an issue with one of your little comments:

    ''"oooh, I won't play any Om or ESL music any more"...really? REALLY?! I taught my kids not to behave like that when they were in grade school''

    This childish response ignores that these people are guarding themselves from the same backlash as happened to the blogs that were being used to promote music. These blogs lost their domain names and face legal repercussions for doing basically nothing wrong. It's sad that you feel the need to mock people for defending themselves from such baiting tactics.

     

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  83.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    Take the word of a blogger and his mini-me choir, or take the word of people actually working in the business hard choice.

    Funny how many people on here who disapprove of these seizures (including the one who posted the email) are "people actually working in the business."

    Also funny how you seem to ignore that much of the material claimed to be "infringing" in the affadavit, was sent in by the record labels themselves.

    The word you should take from "people actually working in the business" is "approved." They want the sites to exist.

     

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  84.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    To the indie record folks

    To Rich Bengloff (with nods to Jim Mahoney, Tim Westergren, and Casey):

    Thanks for writing. It's clear that you don't like "piracy," because you believe it's cutting into your profits. That is a fair concern; nobody likes it when they don't get paid, and everyone here wants to support the arts.

    However, you should do the research on these seizures before you advocate them.

    First of all, none of the sites were informed why (or even that) the domain names were seized. As of yet, none have even been accused of any criminal act.

    Second, this is without question prior restraint. The government is not allowed to ban materials presumptively protected by the First Amendment without an adversarial hearing - a rule you should be first in line to support.

    Third, there are already rules in place to deal with sites that distribute infringing content. The most important one is the DMCA takedown system. Some of these sites have publicly stated that they do, in fact, comply with takedown requests; if true, they've done nothing unlawful. (One of the sites was a search engine, like Google or Bing, and since they do not actually host any content whatsoever, they couldn't comply with a takedown request even if they wanted to.)

    Fourth, some of the supposedly "infringing" material was sent in by the copyright holders themselves. It's exactly like if the government shut down a radio station for playing your promo CD's. That's why Dave won't play your music anymore: if these seizures stand, he won't be able to, for fear of being arrested.

    Think of this situation. A record store sells both bootlegs and authorized releases. Overnight and without warning, the government puts all their records on the street (without actually seizing any of it), boards up the doors and windows, and puts up a scary-looking sign claiming the store was illegal. No explanation is given, and no charges are filed.

    Is that really something you would support?

    On a related note - the idea that "piracy is killing music" is not really true. People aren't buying CD's because people don't want CD's. (The first thing I do when I buy one is rip it to my hard drive.) There is not one single shred of evidence that if "piracy" disappears, anyone would buy even a single additional album. Certainly these seizures aren't going to convince people to buy anything.

    Finally - even though Techdirt (and many others) have brought all of this up before, including in this very post, you don't seem to have even thought about any of it. Certainly, nothing in your response has addressed any of these issues. Instead, you've merely echoed some promo-speak about "new business models" and "we're not like the RIAA at all, no really, trust us."

    All you've done is try to cover your ass.

    That, in itself, is sad. It's also alarming, because not only have you endorsed something you haven't thought about, but you've encouraged others to endorse it too, merely on your say-so.

    I think it might be time for a long, hard look in the mirror.

    Hugs and kisses,

    - Karlheinz
    (Noise musician, producer of physical releases, lowly music industry schlub, and decades-long purchaser of indie music)

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Re:

    I think A2IM might deserve the same benefit of the doubt if they happen to be wrong about the ICE seizure.

    Why should A2IM need the "same benefit of the doubt"?

    A2IM hasn't had their name seized.

    In America, A2IM is free to say, "Due process is a load of rubbish." No one's going to put them on trial for saying that. A2IM's Rich Bengloff can come in here and shout, “Due process is for teh losers!”. That's just A2IM's free speech. He doesn't get put in jail for declaring his sincere belief.

    So why didn't Rich stick around and talk people here?

     

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  86.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    "Click on the link on my name above to support us directly (hint hint)."

    I did the first time around as I'm a fan of The Dead Kennedys but despite there being many links to online music stores, I could not find one offering anything in a lossless audio format. If I had infinite funds then this would not be an issue (I would gladly pay for MP3s and then download a torrent with the FLAC version); however, when I can buy independent music from elsewhere that does come in lossless formats then I'm not going to split my money and encourage MP3s I don't want.

    If there was a link in the list that does offer some of your stuff (esp. Dead Kennedys or Jello Biafra) in a lossless format and I missed it then tell me so that I can spend some money.

     

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  87.  
    icon
    Jesse Townley (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Hi fellow label!

    Er, "this comparison is NOT accurate," sorry! Late night.

     

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

  88.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re:

    "However, I have just as many problems with people that go way out of their way to trash anyone that dares suggest that music fans should pay for the music they acquire and the more vitriol that is spouted the more convinced I get that all of what they say is really just BS aimed at protecting their perceived right to grab any song they want for free."

    As someone who pays for music, but chooses what to pay for (whether that is my right is subjective, but it IS my power), I find your attitude self destructive. You take comments by people who probably never would have bought anything anyway and retaliate against your actual potential customers. There are plenty of independent labels and artists out there who appreciate my money, even thank me for it and here you are telling me that you're passing judgement and I'm probably just another freeloader.

    Also, "just as many problems"? You rate people who say stuff you don't like as much of a problem as those restricting freedom of speech?

    "I find it to be utterly childish and disheartening to read comments that essentially say, I think you're wrong so you must be stupid and anyone that agrees with you must be bad or stupid and, further, I must punish them ("oooh, I won't play any Om or ESL music any more"...really? REALLY?! I taught my kids not to behave like that when they were in grade school). "

    You're against boycotting? Usually it's people who disagree with me about copyright who advocate boycotting as the primary 'correct' response to not liking restrictive copyright.

    I'm starting to notice a pattern with you focusing on the worst of the worst to address. Maybe you've never met a civil person who disagrees with you before, I find that doubtful.

    "The digital revolution is about 12 years old now and there are still only 4 digital outlets that make me any money worth paying any attention to at all (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and SoundExchange)"

    I probably buy much more digital music than average and I refuse to shop at any of those four because none of them even offer a decent choice of file formats. Ironically, the store that offered the biggest choice of music and the best service (including a choice of formats) was shut down by the record industry because it wasn't playing by US copyright rules. They were offering a better service at a lower price and you wonder why people aren't more enamored by iTunes etc.


    "it saddens me that our society now seems to dictate that if you disagree you must bash and question the integrity of the person that doesn't see things your way."

    A statement to read while looking in the mirror.

     

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  89.  
    icon
    Jesse Townley (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re:

    I'm pretty sure our distributor, Revolver USA/Midheaven can sell you the highest quality digital versions of our records:

    http://www.midheaven.com/

    Otherwise, you can buy the CD & import it in any format you wish. I just did a quick search through iTunes & eMusic & can't tell you what level format they offer- though I'm pretty sure that more recent releases are much higher quality than our earlier ones. We've been with Revolver since early 2008, so all of our digital files on the various digital outlets post-date that year so they're certainly better than if we'd been selling the same earlier versions on iTunes from 7 years ago.

    That's not exactly answering your question, but hopefully it helps. Thanks, Jesse

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:27am

    Re: A2IM

    Dude, what about paragraphs?

     

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  91.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Dec 25th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I'm pretty sure our distributor, Revolver USA/Midheaven can sell you the highest quality digital versions of our records:"

    Thanks for your response.

    They appear to offer MP3s but I can't find out what bitrate because the card processing page won't process my card. I believe amazon offers 256kbit MP3s and there are some shops that offer 320kbit. iTunes probably uses apples own format which I'm not too familiar with.

    Regardless, I'm not looking to buy MP3s (apart from quality I'm not interested in supporting patent encumbered formats) and I don't buy CDs. I know that being so fussy isn't popular but if I'm such a minority that offering a good choice of formats isn't worth it then no one will miss my money anyway. Even without 'pirating' music there are plenty of artists on sites like Bandcamp and HDTracks to listen to and they offer a choice of formats I'm happy with.

     

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  92.  
    icon
    Dave (profile), Jan 4th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    It's a shame that you're anonymous...

    ...but it's not a surprise, because you clearly don't understand what's at stake here.

    I use my podcast to promote music I like. I also use it to promote the idea that music is something that people can and should share with each other. Everyone has shared memories of certain songs, and those songs and those memories add something worthwhile to our lives. We should be encouraging that sort of sharing, rather than attacking music fans for doing something that comes naturally to them.

    The A2IM has come out and said that music blogs that share MP3s -- even MP3s that the copyright holders sent to them and gave them permission to share -- are a problem, and that the correct way to fix that problem is to let the government seize those blogs' domains in a way that violates the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    If the A2IM promotes that idea, why on earth should I promote the A2IM or any of its members? Why should I open myself up to that sort of liability and risk losing my domain?

    You'll notice that no members of the A2IM ever bothered to reply to any of my comments here. They're not interested in engaging with music lovers who promote the good stuff online. They're interested in spin control. I have my own form of spin control -- not spinning their records.

    I admit my comment about Pandora might have been angry and misguided. I personally know at least one unsigned indie artist who has benefited quite a bit from Pandora. Nevertheless, it doesn't change my opinion of the A2IM. I am free choose what to promote on my show, and I freely choose NOT to promote an organization that encourages the government to break its own constitution.

    If you really have a problem with that... well, you're free not to listen to my show.

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    Cornelius Robertson, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    slander of my unrelated domain.

    please adjust the title of your article it can be unintentionally damaging to my domain.
    thank you in advance.
    Popcorn
    615-424-1491

     

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


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