Spanish Recording Industry Lobbyists Sue Professor For Highlighting Its Monopolistic Practices

from the how-do-you-say-streisand-in-spanish? dept

Yet again, we’re left scratching our heads at the basic failure of recording industry lobbyists to think about the consequences of their actions. The latest is that Promusicae, the Spanish recording industry lobbying group that is associated with the IFPI (which, itself is associated with the RIAA) has sued Spanish professor Enrique Dans for daring to state, in his opinion, that Promusicae violated Spanish antitrust laws. The blog post in question (Google translation) is actually mostly about the legal troubles of SGAE, the Spanish collection society which was accused of being involved in a massive criminal fraud operation. In the post, he also mentioned Promusicae and how it set up a system that he believes violated antitrust laws in effectively limiting access to radio airtime to members of Promusicae.

In response, Promusicae sued him for “violating their honor,” demanding either 20,000 or 50,000 euros. Professor Dans explains the details on his own site (Google translation).

It seems pretty clear that this is nothing more than a SLAPP-style lawsuit — with the recording industry lobbyists suing Dans to shut him up and to create chilling effects to silence other critics. It’s a shameful way of dealing with critics, and, as Rick Falkvinge notes in his story (the first link up top), even if Dans is legally in the right, a court battle is very costly. Again as Falkvinge notes, perhaps it’s time for the EU to start setting up anti-SLAPP laws to avoid these kinds of lawsuits as well.

But, more to the point, all this really does is call much more attention to Dans’ original blog post from July, and the accusations he made about Promusicae. In what world does an industry lobbyist think that it’s a smart move to call attention to a respected professor’s blog post that describes some of their questionable behavior? A normal, thinking, individual would either respond directly to the charges with a detailed explanation for why it’s wrong, or just let it go away. Suing only makes it worse in almost every way. Not only does it call worldwide attention to this blog post and the claims against Promusicae, but it also will likely make more people look more closely at Promusicae and what it’s done… all the while showing off Promusicae lobbyists for the obnoxious bullies that they are. It’s really quite incredible. As Falkvinge notes:

Perhaps what amazes me most is that the public backlash to this kind of behavior is as predictable as a grandfather clock. How can the copyright monopoly lobby’s lawyers live in so completely disconnected an ivory tower, that they thought it was a good idea to file lawsuit against a reputable professor for claiming they’re a monopoly, using monopolistic practices – when this fact is not only well-established to the point of being in dictionaries, but even legislated? What kind of survivability would such a parasitic misantropic business have in the wild, if it were not protected by obsolete laws?

Of course, I guess they’re thinking that the resulting chilling effects scaring away others from commenting might be worth any backlash. Or they’re so focused on protecting “their honor” that they never bothered to think at all. I am curious, of course, how “honorable” it is to sue a respected professor for expressing his opinion? How can you sue someone for violating your honor when you have no honor at all?

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Companies: ifpi, promusicae

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Comments on “Spanish Recording Industry Lobbyists Sue Professor For Highlighting Its Monopolistic Practices”

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22 Comments
Joe Escalante (profile) says:

Anti-trust

There are all kinds of anti-trust problems with music organizations. I’ll save you the trouble of reading my boring law review article (Western State U. Vol. 22 No. 1, Fall 1994) and just say this. When organizations create barriers to enter markets, like the market for radio air play, it violates the Sherman Anti-Trust act.
By charging one price for all music (the blanket license), why would broadcasters mess with people trying to break into the market? It all cost the same.
It appears as if Spain has some sort of developed anti-trust laws. Let’s hope they have anti-slapp motions as well.

firefly (profile) says:

Monopoly

I’ve noticed the copyright maximalists are so afraid of that apt word that they really can’t think straight when it is uttered. Makes sense though. Given a choice between a monopolist and a pirate, which do you think is the more politically damaging term? Especially since the public can recognize (or read in the US Constitution) that copyright maximalists really are monopolists.

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