Saturday, March 11, 2006


According to Reuters, a couple of Ryan Adams fans made clips from a single from an upcoming Ryan Adams album available for download on a fan site. Robert Thomas of Milwaukee, WI, and Jared Bowser of Jacksonville, FL, were indicted for committing the unbelievably heinous crime of running afoul of a new provision of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (FECA) (and yes, you can add an L to the end of that to make it more appropriate) that makes it a separate federal crime to pirate music and movies before they are released to the public.

Apparently the music was a snippet of the song "Jacksonville City Nights" which was released last September. The hooligans who committed this inconscionable crime against humanity released the snippet (not the full song) a month before the single's street date.

That loud bang you just heard was the recording industry shooting itself in the foot yet again.

First of all, as indicated earlier, what was available was only a portion of the song, not the entire song. No doubt the two men intended its distribution to be little more than something to whet people's appetites for the music. Seriously, nobody downloads a song snippet to put it into their regular music rotation. Rather, they listen to it, say "hey that sounds alright," and then buy the song online or buy the CD when it comes out. The recording industry has been doing this for years, tagging snippets onto the end of CD singles or making them available via artist websites. Now if the men had made the whole album available for download, that would be a completely different story, but what we're dealing with here is a small sample of one song, and because of that, the recording industry is dragging these men into court for doing little more than free advertising for the recording industry's own product!

Second of all, the men run a fan site, and are, ostensibly, fans themselves. How smart is it to attack your fans? Most labels frown upon fan sites, because as everyone knows, they don't like to have their marketing done by anybody else but themselves. However, very few have been directly attacked, as it's just not the smartest thing to do to look like a jerk in the eyes of the people who are most likely to be buyers of your product. By doing this, Lost Highway and Universal Music are directly assaulting their fans and making examples out of them for a small violation that wouldn't, in the end, hurt their business, but would rather benefit them due to free exposure!

I find this all particularly interesting, because around the same time these guys posted this song snippet, I picked up a free demo DVD of Ryan Adams out of the free bin at my local record store. It had the same song on it in its full version. The year before that, I also picked up a pre-release copy of Ryan's prior CD from a similar store with ALL of the tracks from that release on it. It's not as if the record companies don't promote things the same way or even more prolifically than these men did. They just don't want you to be able to do it.

Oh, and by the way, these guys are going to be tried right here in my state of Tennessee. They face up to eleven years in federal prison if convicted. FOR A SONG SNIPPET PROMOTING THE ARTIST RELEASE ON A FAN SITE, THEY COULD BE JAILED BY THE SAME ARTIST THEY WERE TRYING TO HELP!!!! Sorry for shouting, but this is just stupid.

Says Jim Vines, a Memphis attorney prosecuting the case, "Any perception that copyright violations are victimless crimes is just plain wrong. Whether stolen intellectual property is given away or sold by thieves for a profit, the rightful owners of such property are still hurt. Many individual and corporate victims of copyright crimes live, work and create here in the middle district of Tennessee, and persons who knowingly violate federal copyright law face serious consequences whether or not they intend to harm anyone. Federal copyright violations are both a national and local priority and will be aggressively prosecuted in this district."

Jim...slow down, buddy. It's just a song snippet. Switch to decaf.

RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol said "The indictments are particularly gratifying as they come from the heart of music country. Prerelease piracy is a particularly damaging and onerous form of theft."

Mitch... did you know that pre-release "piracy" often leads to post-release PURCHASING? By letting the listener know what a CD sounds like, they can make a judgment as to whether it's worth their money. It's happened to me plenty of times.

Mitch continues: "It robs artists of the chance to sell their music before it even hits the streets or becomes legally available online, and the ripple effects are felt far and wide throughout the entire music community -- especially when that theft strikes in Nashville, the very heart of our industry."

Mitch, old buddy, old pal, it does not rob them of the chance to sell their music. All it does is throw a monkey wrench into your marketing plan, because suddenly your product is out there, and you aren't able to control it or put your spin on it or put up posters and all kinds of stuff that makes a crappy album sound like a really good one. What it does, Mitch, is level the playing field and keep the consumer more informed, which I realize bothers you guys. Are there people out there who won't buy the CD when they're able to download it for free? Sure. Would they have bought it otherwise? Who knows? It's doubtful, but I suppose the case could be made. However, most consumers are going to get the product legitimately, providing that it's any GOOD when they listen to the pre-release versions.

Mitch continues: "We're extremely thankful for the efforts of Jim Vines, his team at the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI for their leadership. We commend Congress for giving prosecutors the tools they need to achieve swift and successful enforcement of this devastating form of piracy. The message here is clear: Significant crimes bring significant consequences."

Well, isn't that great for you that thanks to greasing all the palms in Congress, your corporation has gotten them to pass a law to help bully YOUR VERY OWN FANS into buying your records.

Oh, and go look up the definition of "significant." Obviously, this "crime" of a couple of fans posting a song snippet on a web site to help you sell your putrid records (for which you are completely ungrateful) is the very definition of insignificant. And as for you, Mr. Ryan Adams, until your label stops trying to push us further and further into a police state, I won't be buying any of your records. I'll just pick them up at the free bin at the record store.


At 11:55 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

Hey Viper ;-)-

I feel so much safer NOW!

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

JD do a Google search for the names of the 2 guys involved. I did and some of the articles are claiming that it was four complete songs that were posted from an advance copy of the CD.

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Sailorcurt said...

And the music industry wonders why it's sales are down.

Why would anyone support an industry that would treat it's customer base so blatantly like the enemy?

If I can support the artists directly, I will do so, but not a penny of my money will knowingly go into the hands of the tyrranical (and suicidal) recording industry. If that means I miss out on some good be it; I'll go shooting instead...that's music I never get tired of hearing.


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