Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Recording Industry Association of America: “Squeeze More Blood Out of That Turnip”

Between 1999 and 2007, Joel Tenenbaum committed some of the most heinous bloodthirsty crimes in American history. Are you sitting down? He illegally downloaded and shared thirty songs online.

He originally received a $675,000 fine. Let’s see now, I’m no math whiz but I think that’s over $20,000 per song. Take that, you Brute! Poor little record companies.

And now Judge Nancy Gertner has reduced his verdict from $675,000 to $67,500. She said the reduced fine:

“Not only adequately compensates the plaintiffs for the relatively minor harm that Tenenbaum caused them; it sends a strong message that those who exploit peer-to-peer networks to unlawfully download and distribute copyrighted works run the risk of incurring substantial damages awards. There is no question that this reduced award is still severe, even harsh.”

However, it wasn’t harsh or severe enough for the RIAA, who threw a hissyfit and announced that they would appeal this decision. In an official statement, the RIAA whined: “With this decision, the court has substituted its judgment for that of 10 jurors as well as Congress.”

Or maybe, unlike Congress, Judge Nancy Gertner isn’t owned and operated by the deep-pocketed RIAA.

Gertner said her decision was consistent with recent court decisions that have reduced excessive jury awards:

“For many years, businesses complained that punitive damages imposed by juries were out of control, were unpredictable, and imposed crippling financial costs on companies. In a number of cases, the federal courts have sided with these businesses, ruling that excessive punitive damages awards violated the companies' right to due process of law. These decisions have underscored the fact that the constitution protects not only criminal defendants from the imposition of 'cruel and unusual punishments,' but also civil defendants facing arbitrarily high punitive awards.”

The RIAA is sort of a reverse image of Exxon, BP and the tobacco industry. Those companies will keep on appealing and appealing and appealing their verdicts, until a multi-million dollar fine gets reduced to pocket change. Either that, or the plaintiffs have finally all died of old age.

In the RIAA’s version, they turn their trillion-dollar guns on one individual, with the determination to totally ruin this person come Hell or High Water. Even if they never collect the amount they wanted, their victim will spend his life savings (and that of his great-grandchildren) on legal costs.

Boycott those cocksuckers.

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Anonymous Tim said...

Holy crap, that poor bastard must have a dark cloud following him.
If I were him, I'd skip out telling all involved to kiss my ass. Maybe even write a song about it.;)

July 11, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight,

It's fair if the Conservative Majority of the Supreme Court can call their Brokers and then lower the "excessive" award on Exxon therefore ruining thousands of people and small business effected.

But it's OK to gouge a working stiff with a fine equal to the GNP of Tonga in order to "teach him a lesson"

BTW there had been a real War on Peer to Peer out there..
But no one touches the Usenet :-)


With apologies to the Pacific Islanders

July 11, 2010 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

That tears it! From now on I'm only taping my music off the radio, or, from the albums I buy for a quarter at garage sales. take that, RIAA!

July 11, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

If Tenenbaum only downloaded and illegally shared 30 songs, which strains credibility, IMO, the fine is excessive. The judge is clearly trying to make an example of him.

Then again, there's no question the recording industry and its artists have suffered massive losses. In the end, I think everyone has suffered loss of quality, quantity and creativity in popular music. My musical tastes are broad and range from 1930s and '40s swing, to show tunes, to jazz, to recent (actual) rock 'n' roll and country. I can enjoy Leonard Bernstein leading the New York Philharmonic in "Rhapsody in Blue" and get off on Willie Nelson singing "Stardust" or Ray Charles singing almost anything. Sinatra is my all-time favorite male singer.

Never in my life have I found popular music to be as generally limited, as low quality and unsatisfying as it's been the last 10 or 12 years. There are exceptions, but those are few and nowhere near what I was accustomed to in decades past.

I attribute a lot of this decline to the fact millions of people routinely steal vast quantities of music and get away with it, not just in the U.S. but around the world.

Face it, if an infinite number of fans could slip into any game LeBron James plays in without paying, and get away with it, how much do you think James and whatever team he's on would make, never mind about what good players they are. If you said not much, you get a gold star for today.

The RIAA has been over the top with some of its attempts to restrict people's use of music they've paid for, and that's wrong too. I'm not giving RIAA blanket cover for its actions.

Still, anyone who doesn't want dregs for musical entertainment most of the time should take a very dim view of those who steal instead of buying it. I know that's not a popular view in all quarters, college campuses especially, but that's what I think is right.

July 11, 2010 at 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

This kind of RIAA bullshit is just one of the reasons I buy very, very little big label music. Most of it's crap anyway. I get the vast majority mine from small labels, or I find it online offered for free.

Big Music seems to think they're the only game in town. I tired long ago of the record industry telling me who the good musicians were.

For every big-name technology-enhanced "artist" they sling at the tone-deaf public, there are dozens of small musicians and bands who are leaps and bounds better than their industry zombies.

I say fuck 'em.

July 12, 2010 at 2:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Tim: Write a song about it, there you go.

Erik: That's pretty much it. A multibillion dollar corporation can get their verdict whittled down and down and down, even when their criminal negligence has ruined thousands of lives. But one person who ripped off the RIAA should be given a huge fine at least the size of Tonga's GNP; maybe even Tunisia's or Albania's.

Lew: That's the way to go. Used records/CDs, YouTube and taping off the radio. (I thought I was the only Luddite out there who still did that.)

SW: I agree and disagree with you. There's a lot of incredibly brilliant music out there. But, finding it is the tricky part. (Thank God for YouTube.) Radio sucks. No matter what a station calls its format -- Alternative, Light Rock, Today's Best Music -- it's the same 8 banal songs played over and over. I don't even know if those format names are still in use. I hardly ever listen to the radio any more; not commercial stations anyway.

There's a Seattle NPR station that we get here (there's a local transmitter so we can pick it up out here in the boondocks) that plays mostly jazz; they have a blues program on Saturday and Sunday nights. And there's a Canadian station, whatever Canada's NPR equivalent is, that plays everything from classical music (traditional and contemporary), jazz, techno/house/DJ (whatever you want to call it).

But commercial radio stations are almost all owned by one of 3 or 4 media conglomerates, and they just want to squeeze out every dollar possible by playing the same overplayed hit songs that millions of tone deaf people can hum along with.

Carlos: Exactly. There's a lot of excellent music out there. But radio stations won't play their music and the major record labels won't touch them. I know that Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have both released music that's only online; no record label involved whatsoever. I hope more groups will do this (or maybe they are). Thank God for the small independent labels and YouTube.

July 12, 2010 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Greed has come a long way since the Grateful Dead allowed taping at their concerts. The industry had fits, the fans got what they wanted, and the band saw record concert attendance.

I understand bands take a hit, but
it's always the no-talent middle men who complain about losing their cut.

Maybe the answer is to sell more vinyl LP's instead of digital formats. I'm one of those who think the LP's sound better, anyway.

Now where's that cassette of Akron, 1985?

July 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You both have points here. But I only collect Jazz and pre-disco Soul and R&B. I have over 1500 record albums and 500 CD's. That means many years putting the music industry down on my tax returns as a dependent.

I don't listen to today's music, I don't know a Nine Inch Nail from a 10 penny Nail. A Lady Gaga from any other type of Gag.

Nor do I listen to Rap or Hip-Hop, or Country!

Fortunately the only full time Jazz Station in the whole Country is located here in the SF Bay Area. What these Corporate Stations call Soul is dominated by White British "Soul Divas" while Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack or Etta James can hardly get a minute of play.

When they want to satisfy us "fossils" they have a Motown Monday. Motown, Not Otis Redding, Not Wilson Picket, Not James Brown.

The Stations here that carry Blues are mostly White Guitarist.

So I download, I have paid my dues to the Record Companies and these artist don't get much airplay nor floor space in the record stores.


Guilty as Charged

July 12, 2010 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Dave: LOL, this sure isn't the same country that it was back when the Dead were allowing people to tape their concerts. I didn't like their music much (they were my least favorite of the San Francisco '60s and '70s groups) but I admired their commitment to the music and their generous attitude toward their fans.

More LPs and tapes, there you go.

Erik: That's a lot of records and CDs. I have a lot too, but nowhere near that many. I've definitely paid a lot of RIAA dues, but not recently so much.

YouTube is a gold mine, but you have to know about a musician or group before you can search for them.

That NPR station I was talking about in my other comment, KPLU, includes a lot of early '60s R&B in their Saturday and Sunday night blues program. They're available online; I don't have a link right now but I've found them before. KPLU, 88.5 and 89.3.

July 12, 2010 at 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

I haven't purchased a RIAA release since the summer of 2000, and I doubt seriously I ever will again. I do still buy USED CDs, and I buy individual songs from vendors in countries where RIAA laws don't apply (like Russia, where all purchase royalties are thrown into a common pot, those damn Commies.)

July 13, 2010 at 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

SW, it isn't "stealing," and it's annoying to me to see it described as thus. It's copyright infringement, it's a civil offense, and that's why one doesn't do jail time for it. The RIAA may have planted that "stealing" bullshit in everyones' heads, but it's a load.

Did you know that the average RIAA artist will collect a grand total of $42000.00 from a MILLION selling album? If you want to find thieves, take a look at the way the RIAA writes contracts for young people without a whole lot of business savvy. And if you want to support artists, buy their swag, not their RIAA-issued albums.

July 13, 2010 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: That's cool; I didn't know that about Russia. I like that idea of royalties going into a common pot; I guess them commies have gotten to me.

July 13, 2010 at 3:45 PM  

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