Friday, March 10, 2006


The full weight of the US legal system is currently being hoisted above the heads of Robert Thomas and Jared Bowser, who stand accused of leaking Ryan Adams music online. We get the impression that it's Ryan's label, Universal, who are pushing for books to be thrown, examples to be made:

"Any perception that copyright violations are victimless crimes is just plain wrong," U.S. Attorney Jim Vines said Thursday. "Theft of music, trade secrets and other intellectual property victimizes the creators of such works, who have a legal right to determine how their work is distributed."

Vines said the crimes also victimize the companies that foot the bill for the creative process, in this case Universal Music Group, parent company of the Lost Highway label and owner of the song copyrights.

Now, we can go along some of the way with this - those boys, if they did what they're accused of, did step over the line, and you could say they probably deserved a cease-and-desist letter. Maybe, if Universal could somehow prove they lost sales, at a pinch they should be made to make good the losses (although, since this is late-period Ryan Adams we're talking about, they'd have to find someone who could make change on a fifty). So, what are they looking at?

If convicted on all counts, Thomas and Bowser each face up to 11 years in prison.

In the same way that you have to stick your password in twice when you create it, to make sure you don't accidently mistype it, we'll just bring you that again to reassure you that it's the legal system - and not you - which is unfocussed:

If convicted on all counts, Thomas and Bowser each face up to 11 years in prison.

Eleven years! For a couple of Ryan Adams tracks. That's the same sentence, incidently, as Tyler Jame Lupoli got for molesting four eight year old girls at a sports centre. That's the same sentence a Turkish court gave to the head of their local mafia for ordering the execution of a stockbroker. Eleven years is the sentence given to Francisco Javier Miranda-Espinosa for over five years printing and distributing fake IDs, social secirty cards, money laundering, aggravated identity theft and similar crimes.

These kids stuck a couple of Ryan Admas songs online.


Anonymous said...

Like anyone who's gone for a job or to the sales, the key words are "up to". The chances of a custodial sentence for a first-time offence are slimmer than Jacko's wallet and would make UMG hate figures on a scale only RIAA have enjoyed so far.
If you do want to get your kecks in a twist, why don't you consider the option that this is a publicity stunt to highlight Ryan Adam's contractually-obligated unlikely-to-be-any-good album? On the other hand, any decent PR firm may have dissuaded them from doing the equivalent of sticking up a Las Vegas-size neon sign saying "Our artist's music is available for free on the web."

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Eyetie, I take your point that 11 years is the top end of the sentence and even if convicted, they'll be unlikely to get that, but that doesn't alter the detail that for sharing a couple of mp3s, there is the potential to be deprived of your liberty for the same length of time as a mafia boss convicted of ordering an execution.

And remember, this shouldn't even be a criminal offence in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I personally like the "vindictive response to giving people the chance to realize that the new Ryan Adams album is lousy without having to buy a copy to learn it."

A shocking potential sentence but to follow eyetie's line, an equally valid question might be whether getting 11 years for ordering an execution is a fair sentence. I'm sure the goal here is to scare people as much as possible and bankrupt these two with legal fees.

Anonymous said...

Simon, I can see your point but you're comparing potential with actual and not like with like: 11 years is the potential maximum sentence while those other sentences were actual sentences where the maximum was likely to be much higher. That's like comparing fare dodgers who could be charged up to £2500 and given jail time with Pete Doherty who gets away with a community sentence for being caught with class-As.

Anonymous said...

bearing in mind ryans work is not exactly original in the first it just seems to blindly rip off whoever he was last listening gram parsons,paul westerberg.seems a bit much that jail time may be on the cards.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I know what I'm doing is comparing the upper end with actual sentences. But I think that's a valid thing to do - it's surely insane that judges are given the discretion to impose a sentence which colleagues feel is adequate for repeated sexual assaults on children. I know they probably won;t get 11 years - but they shouldn't even be facing such an out-of-proportion sentence for what is a pretty trivial "crime" - it's questioning what this law is doing on the statute book in the first case.


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