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Legacy Recording Industry To Trump: Please Tell Tech Companies To Nerd Harder To Censor The Internet

from the feeding-right-into-the-program dept

Last week, we wrote about the ridiculous suggestion from the former Newspaper Association of America (now called the News Media Alliance) that President Donald Trump should scale back fair use because newspapers still don’t like Google. As we noted, at a time when Trump has been strongly endorsing censoring newspapers, for those very newspapers to tell Trump to undermine a key cog in protecting free speech was absolutely ridiculous.

And, of course, now we can add the legacy recording industry to this same “shoot foot” brigade. Upon hearing about Trump’s meeting with the heads of a bunch of top tech companies, the RIAA and a bunch of related recording industry associations (including ASCAP, BMI, A2IM, NMPA, SoundExchange and more… ) have sent a letter to Trump (found via Variety), asking him to force the internet companies to nerd harder to find better ways to censor the internet. This is fairly incredible, seeing as the traditional recording industry wasn’t exactly a major Trump supporter. For them to now reach out to Trump and urge him to increase censorship of the internet is fairly astounding and sickening. Basically, to the RIAA and friends, hatred of Google and the internet is more important than concepts like free expression or holding our elected officials accountable.

Of course, the legacy recording industry doesn’t come out and directly say “censor the internet,” but that’s exactly what they’re asking for here (though watch the blog posts from defenders of the industry howl about me making this intent obvious):

Surely the world?s most sophisticated technology corporations can do better ? by helping to prevent illegal access and paying fair market value for music with prices set by or based on the free market.

Strong protection for intellectual property rights will assure growth in both creativity and technology, benefiting the American economy as a whole.

We hope you will lead the effort to assure American creativity is encouraged, invested in, protected and fairly compensated in a manner that carries out the exclusive rights guaranteed in the Constitution to those who, with the genius of their mind, form the cultural identity of our great nation.

The call for censorship is in “preventing access” which means blocking what you can do online. The hilarious part is the “prices set based on the free market” because that’s exactly what the industry is protesting. The whole “value gap” bullshit is basically the industry saying “we do not like what price the free market is setting, and therefore we need the government to artificially inflate prices through monopolies.

Just to be clear, if you’re whining about not getting “fair compensation” you’re clearly saying “I’m upset about the price the free market has set.”

But the bigger issue here is the censorship piece. I shouldn’t have to detail here how many times we’ve shown that copyright is abused for censorship purposes (including by governments). The call to hold platforms more accountable and putting the onus on them to “nerd harder” is a call to ramp up tools for censorship-via-copyright. This is pretty ridiculous — and one hopes that musicians who have spoken out against Trump will also speak out against this demand to give him and his friends more power to censor parts of the internet.

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Companies: a2im, ascap, bmi, google, nmpa, riaa, soundexchange

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Comments on “Legacy Recording Industry To Trump: Please Tell Tech Companies To Nerd Harder To Censor The Internet”

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34 Comments
Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

The First Rule of Copyright Club

"rights guaranteed in the Constitution to those who, with the genius of their mind, form the cultural identity of our great nation."

Careful, that’s dangerously close to spilling the beans about copyright’s actual goal of populating the Public Domain!

When you guys want to have a serious conversation about rolling back the length of copyrights and how to actually get some works to enter the Public Domain, I’ll agree to start talking about how to ensure your farce of a "culture producing" monopoly is actually respected. Hint: they’re related.

Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile) says:

Unfortunately his transition team pointedly illustrates that the US presidency is open to the highest bidder – I just think this approach may be a little too subtle for Trump to follow – perhaps a dumper truck or two of gold delivered to trump tower with a bow and and a message saying please give us admin access to the internet….

PaulT (profile) says:

“Just to be clear, if you’re whining about not getting “fair compensation” you’re clearly saying “I’m upset about the price the free market has set.” “

It’s worth being even clearer before the usual gaggle of fools comes in and whines about piracy not being part of the fair market.

There are numerous strands of pricing that the actual free market has set. These range from a fairly high level for limited edition physical goods, to an extremely low per-play level for streaming access. These are the things that are being talked about, they just happen to compete with piracy, as has every format since recorded media could be made by the general public.

What the record companies are whining about is that the free market means that they cannot charge a price that’s too high. You can’t charge the same for a bog standard CD or album download as you can for a special edition vinyl. You can’t charge the same for a digital single as you would for a CD single. You can’t charge the same for a single stream as you would for a purchase.

The other factor is that the market trends toward the lower priced items, as with anything that’s become a commodity (and yes, pop music is essentially a commodity). So, as the market naturally trends away from people buying numerous albums over and over in different formats and toward people paying to rent single tracks from any device at any time, so the profit margins have disappeared. They want to charge $20 for an album of songs, but the average consumer is only willing to pay $10/month for a Spotify subscription, if that.

“Fair compensation” means to them that you pay what some would have paid in the 90s when they controlled virtually all of the production, distribution and marketing channels, and they want that to return. Piracy’s just a good excuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

no lobbying is completely different, it has to be as bribery is illegal, or so my yearly company mandated ethics course tells me so. Apparently we have to take it as we have gov. contract (not my division but all employees must take it). I assume they reason for the course is cause the top dogs in the government whom are usually lobbied (bribed) don’t want to compete with the lower pups for the ca$h.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nuke them from orbit...

As seen in Viacom vs Youtube, since the property owners will cry infringement even when they post their own content, we should just mark all their property as infringing, and remove it from the internet entirely. Including places like iTunes. Deny them access to streaming, downloading, or incidental sales. I’m sure physical storefronts will be all they will need to support their business model.

Of course, allow individual artists to sell, post, etc freely…

You want strong locks, RIAA? We’ll give you strong locks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Somebody needs to remind these idiots that the president does not create new law. He can only submit something to congress and hope they pass it. Even then, it would have to survive court challenges to said law if ti violates the laws or the constitution that the founding fathers of our country created. The president cannot restrict civil liberties nor can he or she restrict fair use because that is something that is something protected by the copyright law that the Movie and Music industry allowed to be included when it was first drafted, passed by congress and signed into law by the president at the time it passed congress.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But he can set policy as to how various enforcement agencies will react to certain criteria. This could have a devastating effect upon the current status quo. And, as people get used to the ‘new’ status quo legislatures may be more willing to adjust rules. For example, the slippery slope with respect to how the Fourth Amendment has been treated with regard to domestic surveillance caused Congress to NOT protest the changes to Rule 41 adequately.

Anonymous Coward says:

what a shame that the recording industries, just like every other part of the entertainment industries, are such bullying cowards as to want everything to be to their advantages, whilst actually doing absolutely fuck all to help themselves! things like listening to customers, reducing prices, removing DRM etc, etc, would help everyone concerned, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, but as the main aim is to keep control of their stuff, while gaining control of the Internet, keeping as many from getting access to it all, and spending as little as possible to achieve it, even though the costs are enormous FOR EVERYONE ELSE, there’s more chance of finding a chicken with teeth!

Rapnel (profile) says:

Apart from the (imo saddening) migration to centralization, some occasional government interference and the regulatory capture of telecom there is no other industry doing the most overt damage to the Internet to the detriment of all that use her than these asshats.

Just another gang-banger muscling more territory away from its inhabitants.

Mitch Stoltz (user link) says:

"Guaranteed in the Constitution"

Every time the entertainment cartel says that copyright is “guaranteed in the Constitution” or somesuch, let’s remind them that the Constitution gives Congress the authority to pass copyright laws, which is not the same thing. The Constitution also gives Congress the authority to grant letters of marque, but that doesn’t guarantee me the right to be a privateer.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: "Guaranteed in the Constitution"

Oh it’s even better than that. Not only is copyright optional according to the constitution, it’s conditional. The copyright clause in the constitution grants congress the authority(not requirement) to create a copyright system in the law for the express purpose of ‘promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts’. Not ‘to better serve the creators’, or ‘ensure profitability from one’s works’, the purpose is to serve the public.

Congress could decide tomorrow that current copyright law wasn’t serving the stated purpose and trim or even remove copyright from US law, and that action would be entirely within the scope of the clause that granted them the power to grant it in the first place.

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Guaranteed in the Constitution"

trim or even remove copyright from US law

Doesn’t that have the possibility of then putting the US in contravention of some treaties, like, e.g. the Berne Convention?

Tho, admittedly, what the rest of the world could do about that is pretty limited when any complaint could be met with "come over here and say that", with "over here" being right next to my Carrier Group task force (or two, or three – which would exceed the air forces of all except the largest half-dozen or so air forces)…

Anonymous Coward says:

However, there is all kind of cross-border traffic that could not easily be censored.

One example are people on Montana that get wireless Internet from Canada. On one of these adult chat rooms, long ago, I used to chat with one woman who lived in Montana, but got wireless broadband Internet from Canada, because no local service of any was available.

This would have been a problem if SOPA had passed, there would have been no way to force a Canadian ISP to censor its wireless, users, even if they were in the United States.

An wireless ISP in Coutts, Alberta, which this woman was using, only has to comply with Canadian laws. This is one trouble with censoring the net. Those close to the border can get wireless internet from either Canada or Mexico, from companies that would be not subject to American laws

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