Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Music industry exceutives blame PC Mag for exposing their futility

You can understand the rage felt by the music industry executives who have signed a letter accusing PC Mag of 'encouraging' people to steal music.

What got them angry was a piece written in response to the closure of LimeWire, which effectively said "there are lots of similar services which haven't been shut down".

In other words: the music company has just spent a fortune fixing a leak in their bathtub while the water is cascading from the hot water tank in the roof.

Still, let's hear what the copyright industry has to say, shall we?

We write to express our deep disappointment with your decision to publish Chloe Albanesius’ October 27 article, “LimeWire is Dead: What are the Alternatives?” as well as Sarah Jacobsson Purewal’s November 9, 2010 article “LimeWire is Quietly Resurrected: It's Baaack!” Both articles are nothing more than a roadmap for continued music piracy. The disclaimer in the first, “PC Magazine does not condone the download of copyrighted or illegal material,” rings hollow to say the least.
If, like me, you missed these articles, you'll be delighted that the wise owls at the record industry have drawn your attention to them - Limewire Is Dead and It's Baaaack may very well have passed unnoticed had there not been all this foot-stomping from the RIAA. They really know how to grow an audience with a viral campaign, don't they?
Let’s be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire’s users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire – and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs – including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together. Even worse is offering a direct link to a “resurrected” Limewire as follows: “I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link).”
We've all been doing this long enough, yes, to not need to point out that use of the word "steal" and claims of job losses is just nonsense. Or that filesharing services have non-evil uses, and just as saying 'here is a list of places that sell crowbars' isn't an extortion to breaking and entering, saying 'here are peer-to-peer networks' isn't an encouragement to commit crime.
Our argument is buttressed by the fact that PC Magazine offered no alternatives that are 100% legal.
None of the alternatives listed are any per cent illegal. The befuddled music execs have confused 'contain unlicensed files' with 'are not RIAA-approved music selling sites'.
In fact, legitimate download services, who have developed business models based on a respect for copyright and have entered into mutually beneficial arrangements with the music industry are undoubtedly outraged by your feeble attempt to undercut their ability to compete in the legal marketplace.
Legitimate music download services aren't listed in a piece about peer-to-peer networks because they're not peer-to-peer networks. It's like moaning that there's nothing about vegetarianism in an article recommending butcher's shops. And those legitimate services have managed to build a presence alongside, not even despite, the existence of much better-known peer-to-peer networks. Generally, they've tended to accept they're part of the landscape and concentrate on giving people reasons to pay for files instead - something the music industry still seems incapable of grasping as being fundamental to a successful online business.
We would hope that your sense of decency and the realization that even PC Magazine has a responsibility to the rule of law, would have informed your editorial decision in this matter. We suspect you’d feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you’d had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work. Unfortunately, it is clear that the rule of law was an afterthought.
Yeah, you journalists, sitting around in an industry which hasn't been affected in any way by the development of the internet. It's not like your stuff can be cut and pasted, is it?


Here's the list of signatories in full:
Rich Bengloff, President, American Association of Independent Music
Ray Hair, President, American Federation of Musicians
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
John LoFrumento, CEO, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Del Bryant, President & CEO, Broadcast Music, Inc.
Elwyn Raymer, President, Church Music Publishers Association- Action Fund
Ed Leonard, Chairman, Gospel Music Association
Gary Churgin, President/CEO, Harry Fox Agency
Barry Bergman, President, Music Managers Forum-US
Jim Donio, President, National Association of Recording Merchandisers
David Israelite, President & CEO, National Music Publishers Association
Steve Bogard, President, Nashville Songwriters Association International
Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy
Mitch Bainwol, Chairman & CEO, Recording Industry Association of America
Pat Collins, President/COO, SESAC
Rick Carnes, President, The Songwriters Guild of America
John Simson, Executive Director, SoundExchange
Ray Hair? Seriously?