Local Rhythms – RIAA Gives With One Hand, Takes With Other

lipstickpigMy first thought when I heard the news was, Panera Bread is sure gonna be crowded.

Since 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America sued over 35,000 people for illegal downloading of music from the Internet.  Unsurprisingly, this approach failed to make a dent on music piracy or increase legal music sales.

Now, after six years of legal intimidation aimed at college students, grandmothers and at least one dead person, the RIAA announced last Friday an end to lawsuits.

But it’s not an end to their ruthless brand of frontier justice, just a new approach to the same old – really, really old – game.

Henceforth, this hapless industry organization will let Internet service providers do their dirty work, through a policy called “graduated response.”

Here’s how it works.  RIAA learns of an illegal downloader.  How is a mystery, and since they’re a law unto themselves, probably beside the point.

They pass word to the ISP, who in turn emails the evildoer with threats to cut their service.

Miscreants ignore the charges at their peril.  According to news reports, after the third missive, a customer’s broadband connectivity is cut.

This may cause free Wi-Fi hotspots like Panera to grow in popularity.

Remember all the recent talk about lipstick and pigs?

Trading money for bandwidth may be a new tube of lipstick, but trust me – it’s the same old pig.

The ARS Technica blog asked RIAA president Cary Sherman, “is this essentially the system you used for the lawsuit campaign, only now directed at slightly different ends?”

“Yeah,” replied Sherman.

Are these guys ever going to enter the 21st century?

Consumer advocates are pushing for a flat tax solution, with everyone paying a monthly fee to download unlimited music.  The money is paid to copyright holders.

But since that approach won’t bring back the 100 percent margins of 1984, the industry keeps fighting the tide.

They see the Internet as the enemy, not a way to revitalize their business.

There’s more music today than ever before, but that doesn’t seem to count for much.  Maybe it’s because artists are smarter and less inclined to sell out their interests to people who know more about money than music.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The RIAA is fooling no one.  They may deputize new soldiers, but they’re still fighting a misguided war.

Here’s some non-RIAA entertainment for your consideration:

Friday: Last Kid Picked, Electra – Now in their 13th year, LKP plays an energetic mix of rock, soul and pop, covering the likes of everyone from the Commodores to Green Day.  For its part, Electra has been a steady supporter of live music in the area, presenting a range of shows from the hip-hop Rap the Vote gathering to country music from local faves Little Memphis.  Here’s hoping the trend continues in 2009.

Saturday: Rich Thomas, Casa del Sol – Ascutney’s recently opened Mexican eatery expands its musical menu to Friday (with Ted Davis playing) and Saturday nights. Rich fronts the popular About Gladys; tonight, he’s solo, with a funky voice that’s a hybrid of Tom Petty and Wilson Pickett.  Next week, Wise Rokobili settles into a winter-long Saturday residency.   Jason Cann continues to run the Thursday open mike night.

Sunday: Mike Gordon, Portsmouth Music Hall – While rumors swirl about a possible Phish appearance at this year’s Bonnaroo Festival, the band’s bassist Gordon is touring smaller venues in support of his recently released album, “The Green Sparrow.”  The show, which also features local heroes Bow Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck, stops at Killington’s Pickle Barrel Monday.

Monday: New Riders of the Purple Sage, Iron Horse – Almost 40 years after they began as a vehicle for Jerry Garcia to practice steel guitar, these early progenitors of country rock are still going strong, albeit without founder John Dawson, who retired to Mexico a few years back.  Fitting for a man who wrote songs like “Panama Red” and “Henry,” the tale of a smuggler who headed south with hopes of returning “holding 20 keys of Gold” – and not the kind that open doors.

Tuesday: Ted Mortimer, Canoe Club – This hard working guitarist had a busy year, releasing a great album with his band Dr. Burma, and playing in a variety of configurations all over the area.  Tonight, it’s a quieter affair than the raucous shows Ted plays with Dr. Burma.  Elegant, stylish and evincing a wonderfully soft touch, his music selection will be drawn from standards like “Misty” and “The Way You Look Tonight” – very pleasant indeed.

Wednesday: Revampt, Imperial Lounge – If you like hard rock, you’ll enjoy this Springfield quartet.  There’s plenty happening tonight, though, like Dog Dayz at Salt Hill Newport, About Gladys playing the pub’s main location in Lebanon, First Night fun from Burlington to NoHo.  Check out yellowhousemedia.com or midrivermusic.com for a full breakdown.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Local Rhythms!

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