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.