by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
coica, copyleft, jim urie

universal music

My Challenge To Jim Urie Of Universal Music: Instead Of 'Drowning Out' Those You Disagree With, Let's Come Up With Solutions

from the right-and-wrong dept

Back in June, we wrote about a ridiculous major label astroturfing campaign, spearheaded by Jim Urie, the CEO of Universal Music Group Distribution, involving a faux "grass roots" group called MusicRightsNow, which is just a major label front group, connected to Music United -- also a major label front group. Well, he's back. As a few of you have sent over, Urie appears to be claiming that the letter he sent out back then is responsible for the new pro-censorship Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. The new letter urges people to click a link to send emails to elected officials supporting the bill. Amusingly (but not surprisingly), the link in the email (which I'm not providing here), does not allow people to edit the letter. It shows you what you're sending, but the only text input is your name and address. Oh, and you can change the closing. It suggests "Sincerely" but you can change that. That's it. The text of the actual letter includes blatantly false and debunked statements like the following:
The theft of copyrighted works like music, movies, books, software and games is a devastating problem. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates such theft costs our nation's economy roughly $58 billion in total output every year; more than 370,000 domestic jobs; $16.3 billion in earnings; and $2.6 billion in tax revenue for state, local, and federal governments.
Every one of those numbers has been debunked. It's so sad that the major record labels are so hung up on looking backwards that they can't at least admit that they're relying on bogus numbers.

As for Urie's new letter, the really ridiculous part is the following:
Each and every one of us needs to act NOW if we expect the legislation to gain momentum. Our community has never matched the noise created by those on the "copyleft" -- we need to be louder than ever to drown out those who don't care about our art, our jobs and the difference between right and wrong.
How incredibly insulting and how incredibly wrong. The people that Urie is lying about here care very much about art and the difference between right and wrong. It's why we focus on new ways for artists to make money. It's why we look at what the actual evidence shows, including the fact that artists are making more money today than in the past -- in part, by getting out from behind gatekeepers like the major record labels. And this makes us happy, because we do care about art and we do care about the ability of musicians to make a living and to keep doing what they love doing.

Honestly, this is what bugs me the most. Plenty of us are working hard to help musicians make more money, and to create real win-win solutions that make artists and consumers better off. Yet, in response, those who have relied on artificial government subsidies for years, and pretend to represent artists when they really spend much of their time working to keep money away from artists, go out and claim that we're the ones trying to harm artists.

Rather than talking about "drowning out" those of us who are actually helping artists, I have an open request to Jim Urie: why not meet up and let's have a public discussion about how everyone can work together to create a better world for both artists and consumers, rather than going around falsely portraying some of the biggest music fans around as "not caring" about music.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2010 @ 2:32pm

    "we need to be louder than ever to drown out those who don't care about our art"

    Why, because only your art is important? The art of others should be ignored? The art of those who release copyleft works should not be cared for? Only your art?

    ", our jobs"

    It's not the governments job to grant you with a business model via providing you with legislative subsidies (ie: copy protections and patents). That's your job.

    "and the difference between right and wrong."

    Who made you the ultimate authority of morality? The only people that don't care about the difference between right and wrong is you. The only thing you care about is your job. Heck, why should we take your moral opinion seriously when your moral opinion clearly conflicts with your best interests (your job).

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