Friday, September 12, 2003

THAT'S PR-ENTERTAINMENT: Considering they're meant to be in the entertainment-cum-communications industry, you have to wonder at the shite way the RIAA are handling their disturbing and nasty little example-making trials. Anyone would have seen that even starting out on threatening to prosecute a twelve year old girl was going to blow up in their faces - it's not even people like us who have been pointing out that when a multi-million dollar industry starts threatening pre-teens it looks a little bit like a bully - but their attempt at damage limitation has been even worse. Having been made to look so bad, the whole sorry story could have been salvaged by merely getting the young lady to say "I won't do it again, and I've deleted all those files", accompanied by a jovial Mitch Bainwol ripping up the subpoena saying "we'll say no more about it this once." At a stroke, the RIAA would have been able to win a degree of public sympathy, show that it's not a money grabbing ogre and actually pull itself ahead for once.

But, no. Instead, it decided to be 'generous' and demand a 'mere' two thousand bucks - a lot of cash for anyone, never mind a schoolgirl whose family live in council housing - and made her sign the most preposterous legal statement of contrition heard since Joe Stalin's showtrials stopped being held in public. We hope that the cash will be shared out amongst those artists the RIAA is meant to be protecting, and presented to them on those large novelty cheques in public ceremonies, so Paula Abdul is able to demonstrate her joy at the pocket money bullied out of the child. It's only right and proper, after all.

What's made it worse, of course, is that the secondary PR-fuck up of insisting on a pound of money-flavoured flesh has given the RIAA's opponents a chance to make their own hay, offering to pay her fine for her. Surely someone in the luxurious offices of the record industry cartel knew that would happen? Maybe they were too busy worrying about the next PR disaster in their caseload, as a senior citizen also has his neck in the RIAA noose. Maybe it'll turn out they've managed to find someone who is actually a target who won't generate an immediate wave of public sympathy - although they're burning up goodwill so quickly it'd probably take a prosecution of Hilary Rosen to win people back round.

And their amnesty is being hurled back in their faces, in a legal action being brought by the Marin County attorney. He's concerned that the promise of the RIAA to wipe the slate clean of recanting file shaeres is a deceptive business practice, because they're not offering to destroy any data they hold, nor are the owners of the disputed coptyrights so aren't even in a position to make such an offer in the first place.

With all this negative burnback, you'd think the RIAA would be about as popular as a possum in a pie factory, but it turns out a majority of the public in the US supports them. According to, erm, their own poll. However, even allowing for the pisspoor nature of the poll (they interviewed 800 people, or a mighty 0.0002% sample of the population) and for the slightly dodgy timing (they asked two days before launching the assault on little girls and little old men), they still could only manage a 52% vote in favour - which would be swallowed up by the margin of error, we think.

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