Major Labels Begin Major Astroturfing Campaign To Get 3 Strikes In The US
from the begin-astroturfing-now... dept
A friend just forwarded me an email “from” the CEO of Universal Music (really from an email marketing campaign system if you look at the headers) that encourages him to push for new laws in the US to kick people offline for file sharing. To date, the RIAA and others in the recording industry have known better than to seriously push for a three strikes-type legislation in the US, knowing that it is a battle that they very well might lose. They had hoped, quite strongly, that various ISPs would come to simply agree to implement a three strikes plan to kick people offline after three accusations (not convictions) of copyright infringement. But it’s been nearly a year and a half since the RIAA believed those deals were close, and there’s still nothing to show for it. Nothing.
So, it looks like the industry is going to plan B: which is going back to trying to ram through legislation that will require ISPs to take the draconian step of protecting one industry’s broken business model. And to get this going, it looks like the industry has set up a neat little set of astroturfing groups and “consumer” campaigns that try to hide the specifics, but clearly are designed to get similar three strikes legislation (similar to the Digital Economy Act in the UK) put in place in the US.
The letter starts out by making it sound like a populist sort of deal:
I’ve received hundreds of e-mails enthusiastically reacting to my “call to action” at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers convention last month. The music business is facing huge challenges from piracy and theft. Never before in American history has an entire industry been so decimated by illegal behavior. Yet the government has not responded in a meaningful way to help us address this crisis. My call to action is for all of us to become more aggressive in lobbying our government, more outspoken in drawing attention to the problems caused by piracy and more actively engaged. We cannot win this fight alone.
Note the choice of language. “Hundreds of emails” is his way of suggesting that there’s a groundswell of public support. But, for what kind of “call to action”? Ah, the one where we ask the government to protect Universal Music’s business model. Amusingly enough, at last year’s NARM, I gave a presentation on all sorts of ways that the industry could thrive through adopting new business models. I was told that two RIAA members specifically asked the conference not to let me speak, and while I do not believe anyone from Universal Music attended my speech, they did have incredibly scantily clad models standing outside the door inviting people to go to a party. Perhaps instead of partying and lobbying the government, you could have looked at what’s actually working, instead of complaining that nothing will work.
Governments outside the U.S. are legislating, regulating and playing a prominent role in discussions with ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Sales have dramatically improved in these countries. How is it that the U.S. – with the most successful music community in the world – is not keeping up with places like South Korea, France, the UK and New Zealand?
And here we go. Note that the four countries named all put in place forms of “three strikes” legislation recently to kick file sharers off the internet based on accusations, not convictions. By naming those four countries, the letter is implicitly calling for support for three strikes legislation requiring ISPs to try to prop up Universal’s failing business model.
As I said in my speech, I hope that the industry can negotiate a voluntary deal with the ISPs. We need our government representatives to encourage this. But whether or not we reach a deal with the ISPs, our government needs to know that we’ve got a piracy problem and we need real solutions. To accomplish this, our government needs to hear from all of us, so they know that their constituents are out here. Join me in calling on our elected officials to fight piracy. Please help by forwarding this email to your colleagues, friends- everyone who loves music. And consider enlisting your entire company to help in this fight. Then by clicking on the link below a message will be sent to your representatives in Washington. Help us launch a viral campaign to cut off access to the online sites that are used to steal our music, our property and our jobs. In only takes a second but it can make a tremendous impact.
And here we go. The call to make this into a “viral” campaign. Well, let’s look at the details. While Universal uses some nasty “spy on your clickthrough” HTML attempts to hide the actual sites it’s sending you to, it’s not difficult to figure out more details on this campaign. The first place they want you to go is to a website for MusicRightsNow.org, which automatically forwards you to a Facebook page. Facebook page? Why that looks all grassrootsy and made by “the people” right? Not a recording industry front at all! It even includes a neat little inclusive manifesto claiming to represent everyone:
“Music rights now” is a community of individuals who believe music has value and is worthy of protection from online theft. We are songwriters, artists, musicians, recording studio engineers, managers, retailers, record company employees, publishers, performing rights organization employees, music producers, truck drivers, lawyers, stylists, music video directors, laborers, photographers, graphic designers, DJs, radio employees, music fans — and countless others’ who have joined together to fight for the survival of artistry and the music industry.
Except, of course, infringement is not “theft” and a grassroots group of folks getting together to “fight for the survival of artistry and the music industry” don’t get the CEO of Universal Music to announce their coming out party. As for the “survival of artistry and the music industry,” as we were just pointing out, both are doing fantastic. More music is being created and consumed than ever before. More money is being spent and made on the music industry than ever before. In fact, it really seems like the only people who are suffering happen to work at a few companies that have refused to adapt with the times… like the major record labels. So, can we cancel this campaign? It looks like the actual music industry is doing great.
But, let’s explore further.
So who’s actually behind “Music Rights Now”? Well, the Facebook breadcrumbs lead to Music United — a long term recording industry front group that was mocked mercilessly nearly a decade ago, for its incredibly lame attempts to “speak the language of kids today” to teach them that file sharing is bad. It doesn’t look like things have improved much. The front page points to a widely debunked study (which it refers to as “credible”) claiming that file sharing has cost $12.5 billion dollars to the US economy and has killed 70,000 jobs. Then there’s this fun bit of misleading propaganda:
The unauthorized reproduction and distribution of copyrighted music is JUST AS ILLEGAL AS SHOPLIFTING A CD. Sharing music on peer-to-peer networks like Ares, BitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, and Morpheus is against the law. The rules are very simple. Unless you own the copyright, it’s not yours to distribute.
A bit out of date there on the list of file sharing networks, of course. Also, “just as illegal” is a bit misleading. Both are, in fact, illegal, but under very, very different laws. But the key point is that they’re wrong. Making a blanket statement that “sharing music on peer-to-peer networks… is against the law,” is flat out wrong. It would be news to all of the musicians we know who encourage their work be shared online. The web page also claims that “Digital theft is killing the music business.” Again, the evidence we just pointed to yesterday shows that music is doing better than ever.
Of course, in the fine print, we get the list of who’s behind this. It includes all the usual suspects: the RIAA, the NMPA, ASCAP, SESAC, SoundExchange, the SGA, A2IM, BMI, AFTRA and a variety of other smaller organizations that represent labels and publishers. Consumer groups? Nope. Of course not. This is not, after all, a consumer driven effort. It’s just designed to look like one.
Either way, it seems clear that the industry is realizing that ISPs aren’t going to agree to kick people offline based on accusations, so it’s kicking off a well-coordinated campaign to get the government to help, and pressure it to put in place the same sort of overly draconian protectionist measures that don’t actually help musicians or the music industry — but clearly try to prop up the failed and dying business model of a few middlemen. Not surprisingly, this seems well-timed to go with the expected release this week of the report from the White House’s IP Enforcement Coordinator (IP Czar), Victoria Espinel…. How much do people want to bet her report also fits in with propping up those businesses?
Filed Under: astroturfing, copyright, grassroots, three strikes
Companies: riaa, universal music
Comments on “Major Labels Begin Major Astroturfing Campaign To Get 3 Strikes In The US”
If everyone hates you, you need to pretend to be someone you aren’t to get support right? Makes sense to me.
We need to do an email carpet bomb.
astroturfing indeed: http://techdirt.com/articles/20100621/1101559899.shtml
another story punted by mike. congrats.
And another comment punted by you. Do you even know what astroturfing means? Here are some criteria hints:
– Imply large numbers of citizenry are contacting you
– Create organization that is associated with your movement, but does not openly declare to be
I’d say you point fails on both counts. It’s not astroturfing if there isn’t an organization pretending to be something its not.
But you knew that.
Re: Re: Re:
Re: Re: Re: Re:
Good link. You should read it.
Re: Re: Re: Re:
Do you realize the irony that you point out a study by Dunning and Kruger done at Cornell University?
You know, the Ivy League college where Dunning and Kruger did their study about how dumb people over-rate their intellect, and smart people constantly second-guess themselves?
A study done at the academically exclusive university where Masnick got his undergraduate (and graduate) degree. But you went to some other school where only the brightest are admitted, right?
Re: Re: Re:
what? these guys claimed to be an international group with huge numbers of stakeholders involved, when it turns out to be 90 people from groups that run the gammit from marxist leninists to pure socialists. it is absolute astroturfing, making claims that the had many people involved when in fact it was only 90 people worldwide.
perhaps you want to sharpen your reading skills.
Re: Re: Re: Re:
And here is where you’ll find the purest example, perhaps even the very definition, of trolling.
Well done sir. Well done.
Re: Re: Re: Re:
Did you just wake up from a 55-year nap? Extrapolate communist ties please, or explain why you are attributing civil liberties and an open market to Marxism.
Re: Re: Re:2 Re:
well, first, they arent trying to get open markets, they are trying to get something for nothing. remember, when you remove the financial motivation to make advancements, the advancements that do happen dont come as often, and more often then not have to be financed with the taxpayers money. when you keep going down that road, you reach a point where the only ones putting money on the table are the government, deciding what is right and wrong for the people. effectively, socialism and marxism, at least on the level of research and development.
there is a point for many of these types of groups where they are no longer about making things better for the poor or “more fair” (whatever that is) for the people, and it becomes about getting a free lunch, where those who do too well and are actually working are forced to support everyone else. taxation does it, but moving an economy to be more government dependent for advancements combines with this to create an even more socialist system, where the government is spending the peoples money to hire the people to do the research, to work in the stores to sell the products, and so on. it is a classical marxist leninist setup.
the free market centers around things that are not entirely free, controls and mechanisms are put in place so that individuals and companies choose to make the investments and take the risks. patents in particular are one of those mechanisms, gives inventors sole control over their inventions for a period of time, as part of the processing of allowing that investment to happen. those sort of restrictions create the actual structure on which such rapid advancement has come in the 20th and 21st century. without it, we would be like many of the communist countries were, locked at their previous industrial age trap, under command economies that were just not working.
mike can give you the rest of the basic economics lesson. safe to say that absolute civil liberties is like absolute free speech – they dont really exist, and when you get out of school you may come to understand that.
Re: Re: Re:3 Re:
Wow TAM, you continually amaze me! How are you able to access our interwebs from your alternate reality?
Lemme guess: It’s AOL isn’t it?
Re: Re: Re:3 Re:
“the free market centers around things that are not entirely free, controls and mechanisms are put in place so that individuals and companies choose to make the investments and take the risks. patents in particular are one of those mechanisms”
Do you even hear yourself?
You are pro “Free market”, but only a free market that allows certain government interference, and you’ll tell us which interference is good and which is bad.
That’s like a plantation owner, circa 1800, saying he is pro-Civil Rights for ALL humans. But for commerce to work correctly, only Civil Rights with certain exceptions, which he will decide. Hypocrite!
Dude, you’ve gotta make a stand. Are you pro free market, or not?
“there is a point for many of these types of groups where they are no longer about making things better for the poor or “more fair” (whatever that is) for the people, and it becomes about getting a free lunch, where those who do too well and are actually working are forced to support everyone else.”
Perhaps there are such people. But there are also people like me and Masnick, with extensive training in Economics, who believe that correctly pricing things at their marginal cost of production creates the economically optimal outcome. In this case, it is a price of free, and abundance. Abundance is good. Economics has to deal with constraints and scarcity all the time. When we find something that is abundant, we prefer that governments not interfere and put artificial constraints on that abundance. You prefer government interference. Just call it like it is, please. And realize who is asking for the “social programs” that offer to support people or industry through gov’t license and a tax on the free market.
“remember, when you remove the financial motivation to make advancements, the advancements that do happen dont come as often, and more often then not have to be financed with the taxpayers money. when you keep going down that road, you reach a point where the only ones putting money on the table are the government, deciding what is right and wrong for the people. effectively, socialism and marxism, at least on the level of research and development.”
This long, unproven, and tenuous relationship violates Occam’s Razor with a certain flamboyance. Is this the “domino theory” on which you want to base your insertion of a government-granted monopoly which interferes with economics and a true open market? And they you want to say you support the open market?
Re: Re: Re: Re:
The Reds are invading! And they’re all disguised as Mike!
Look, behind you, it’s one, no, two Mikes!
As ever, just a few seconds of thought and a quick search of facts would have saved you from looking like a complete moron. You clearly never actually read Mike’s posts – what’s the matter, too many words?
“Astroturfing denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular “grassroots” behavior.”
Please indicate where the Washington College of Law are doing this in any way. Bear in mind that signatures from people who genuinely want to express their opposition or support for something is the definition of “grassroots”, not “astroturf”.
Abuse of Due Process
In a supposedly free-market economy how can a private entity force a third party to “spy” on the third party’s customers and deprive the third party customers of internet access simply because the customer does something the private entity doesn’t want?
Seems that we are continuing down the path of having laws that are of, by, and for the corporations.
Re: Abuse of Due Process
You are exactly correct, but about 30 years too late. Since the 80s we’ve encouraged companies to collect huge portions of the market in the name of efficiency. And not just in the music industry.
Certainly, this often results in efficiency, but it also results in a collection of power in the hands of a corporation. Ironically, this corporation loses it’s ability to change and adjust due to its size. The corporation then has to use it’s weight to influence legislation and other portions of the market that it will lose it’s business if it doesn’t play ball.
This is the situation we have in America now. Many large companies in many industries are completely dependent on monopoly-like behavior to survive.
However, our government, republican and democrat, do nothing because of the efficiencies gained.
Re: Re: Abuse of Due Process
“This is the situation we have in America now. Many large companies in many industries are completely dependent on monopoly-like behavior to survive.”
Dont worry when they start seeking protection thats the beginning of the end for them.
Re: Re: Re: Abuse of Due Process
I worry. They cause a lot of damage as they die.
Re: Re: Abuse of Due Process
And by efficiencies gained I assume you mean that the large corporations can more efficiently bribe/lobby/buy the politicians and laws that they need.
It’s so inefficient when several smaller companies have to pool their resources just to be able to bribe a congressmen….
Do you know what congressmen are going for these days? The only efficient way to purchase one is to be a large corporation….
Strike back at 3 Strikes
The only effort that will work is a national – better yet an international – boycott of the record labels. No purchases for a month would pretty much show them what the consumer was capable of but it seems kids today are friggin complacent.
I went to their facebook page, they don’t allow comments (even after you ‘like’ them) by any users, but you CAN add a comment to their profile image after U ‘like’ them. Go add some comments there, then quickly unlike them. Astroturf campaigns can’t handle actual people coming together to oppose them, they just don’t have the numbers.
I reported the email as spam
If enough people report that email as spam, then perhaps ISPs will filter it automatically into spam folders. That way no one will have to read it anymore. But then again, we’ll loose the entertainment value.
Re: I reported the email as spam
That would be a loss. After all, where would Techdirt be without TAM and all the entertainment brought forth by reading and laughing at his nonsense?
Re: Re: I reported the email as spam
I often wonder if TAM is a character created by people who oppose the recording industry. He does more to discredit his own position than anyone could hope for.
Re: I reported the email as spam
and not to mention we don’t want to lose the historical value of future generations and historians and history teachers looking back at all this and appreciating/teaching/learning about all the nonsense that our legal system eventually had to overcome. I’m sure by then our legal system will have new challenges to deal with though but from a historical perspective reading the nonsense that was once taken seriously by government could be seen as a huge accomplishment for humanity (being that in the future their nonsense will be overcome and governments and legislature will largely ignore it).
One day IP laws will either be abolished or substantially diminished, just like the many many legal social injustices in the past, and this information can serve as a valuable historical record.
We Should Encoruage This
My undestanding is that all of the major labels are selling music that they nolonger own the copyright own. So if we implement a three strikes law, have some one buy one of the items, file a complaint, and repeat two times, does that mean that the labels are off the Internet.
If a company is “off” the Internet, do they loose their store front only, or do they loose their presence site as well. Since all email is sent over the Internet, do they loose email?
This could get very interesting.
Re: We Should Encoruage This
Re: We Should Encoruage This
It’s lose *
Levels of hell ...
The greater the punishment they are seeking the greater the desperation. Their Educational campaigns didnt work, threats of law suits and massive fines didnt work, now threats of disconnection from the internet come to the US.
Raise your hand if you think this is going to change anything.
Levels of hell ...
The greater the punishment they are seeking the greater the desperation. Their Educational campaigns didnt work, threats of law suits and massive fines didnt work, now threats of disconnection from the internet come to the US. We have another industry insider making jokes about the death penalty for file sharing. A death penalty I am certain they would implement with out batting an eyelash in the belief that it would stop file sharing after a few examples had been made.
Talk about desperation …
Does anyone think that the death penalty would work to save them?
Terminology wrong: they aren't pushing for a "law";
they’re pushing for further gov’t enforcement of an already granted *privilege* (copyright). As in every case these days, more intertwining of gov’t for private benefit; in a word, fascism.
I don’t think this could end well for the RIAA. Kicking people off the Internet for the sake of copy protection laws will only draw more attention to our broken laws and if you push people too hard (directly) they tend to push back.
Agreed … the RIAA lawsuits led to a backlash and this will be far worse.
As someone else points out, it makes no sense. Why would a grassroots program push for the similar laws that incumbent industry holders, with tons of money and disproportional legislative influence, want? Do these people think that anyone (besides paid for politicians) are fooled?
But you’ve made the important point. They don’t actually need to convince rank-and-file citizens.
They don’t even need to fool our gullible politicians.
They only need to give our politicians cover for voting in favor of the industry. Our congress can side with the incumbent giants and cite baloney Research about the losses due to piracy, and cite “grassroots” campaigns of regular citizens who agree that tougher laws must be passed.
I liked them on Facebook so I could troll their wall, but they don’t have that turned on.
Figures; these are the guys that don’t like community participation.
Just a few of the names I found…
Some of these are normal people.
Some are former employees of places known for CD Sales.
Everything is now digital. Should I try to hold a job for a business that can’t change? Music is still around, I just believe the rules have to change so that it can be sold again in stores.
bad social engineering is bad
While I don’t agree with them doing this, its sure better than being sued for something you can’t defend yourself against. Called blackmail/extortion.
I live in NZ and unless it’s been shoved through very muich under the carpet, the attempt to get a 3 strikes rule implemented here feel flat too…
Record labels say “Sales have dramatically improved in these [3 strikes] countries.”
This is plain false. CD sales are sinking in France and UK. Sales have improved in South Korea (although not dramatically), and New Zealand is NOT a “3 strikes” country. NZ passed a 3 strikes law, but it was abolished before it entered into force.
Re: plain false
Music Rights Now: “These aren’t the facts you’re looking for.”
Congress: “These aren’t the facts we’re looking for.”
MRN: “We can go about our business of lying and misrepresenting reality.”
Congress: “You can go about our business of lying and misrepresenting reality.”
(Copyright Lucasfilm, Inc. 1978)