I try to stay away from politics in this space. But a recent announcement compels me to go once again into the breach.
It’s no secret that big media interests like the RIAA and the MPAA pay handsomely for elected representatives to do their bidding. Judging by the results, they’re getting a bargain.
Since the mid-90’s, Congress passed a flurry of laws designed to strengthen their hand. Thus empowered, their lawyers file lawsuits with reckless abandon; persuade Internet companies to spy on their customers and more.
Recently, they got Comcast to block ALL peer-to-peer traffic, good or bad.
These culture mavens spend more time in courtroom than the recording studio. Therein lies the problem. Suing teenagers and degrading broadband quality isn’t going to win many hearts and minds
Enter our government, with a solution to this vexing public relations problem.
I can just picture the meeting that led to the “Intellectual Property Enforcement Act,” introduced last week in the U.S. Senate:
“See, the problem is we do all this work, and then everybody hates us.”
“What if we could get federal lawyers to do it for us?”
“Yeah – no one likes the government anyway.”
“It’ll cost us less, too. Boffo!”
That’s this bill in a nutshell. It creates a special division of the FBI to go after media-mad miscreants. The Justice Department is then responsible for filing cases and collecting damages.
But copyright crime’s bad, you say. They should be going after these guys. Well, they do – in criminal court. Where, coincidentally, fines aren’t assessed.
Bereft of new ideas, these guys are only interested in refining old ones. Ever wonder why there are so many sequels and reunion tours? There you go.
The bill’s a rehash, too. Essentially the same legislation failed three years ago, when it was called the PIRATE Act.
Even the Justice Department doesn’t like it. “These cases are hard to win,” they said of the PIRATE Act, “and besides, don’t we have better things to do? Like, uh, I don’t know – terrorism?”
Lest anyone think I’ve an ideological axe to grind, I’ll remind you this is a bipartisan bill – Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Cornyn (R-TX) signed it. It’s equal opportunity stupidity.
This law needs to be shut down faster than a bad movie.
On to more entertaining subjects:
Thursday: Cold River Ranters, Sophie & Zeke’s – This band should fill a void left when the Spiral Farm Band stopped performing. They call their music “hot gonzo primitive folk jive.” If Leon Redbone shared a moonshine-soaked night with Daisy Dukes, their love child would sound like this. I haven’t seen them live (they’re on yellowhousemedia.com), but I’ve gotten emails telling me they’re a must-see.
Friday: Upper Valley Bluegrass Festival, Lebanon Opera House – It’s a great weekend to be an Americana fan. Tonight, mandolin wizard Sam Bush shares the stage with the Greencards, who feature Nickel Creek-like harmonies. Tomorrow, Del McCoury picks and grins, while Crooked Still reinvents songs from the public domain. Sadly, the show is Rushad Eggleston’s second to last with the band. Tristan Clarridge will replace him on cello and Brittany Haas will join on fiddle next month.
Saturday: Lisa McCormick, New England Youth Theatre (Brattleboro) – One critic said of this Vermont singer-songwriter, “in a perfect world, she’d be the talk of the town.” With her latest, “Talisman Groove,” she may get that chance, with top flight players like T-Bone Wolk helping out. Tonight, she celebrates the release with a full band show (typically, she’s solo). Her songs are smart, edgy and hum-able.
Sunday: Juke Joynt, Parker House – Take one part Foghat and one part Buddy Guy, mix it with a bodacious X factor that results from the chemistry of three players who do itinerant in several other local bands, and you have Juke Joynt. Dave Clark, Jed Dickinson and
Terry Diers focus on original music that channels the blues when they were real and classic rock before it got cheesy.
Monday: B.J. Thomas, Billy Joe Royal, Verizon Wireless Arena – This is a benefit for the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire (PFFNH), called “Raindrops and Boondocks.” Of course, the first refers to Thomas’s biggest hit, though I’m partial to “Eyes of A New York Woman,” and the second is a reference to Royal’s “Down in the Boondocks.” Most folks know the song, not the name. Tickets are a reasonable $20, which is why I’m breaking my arena ban – plus it’s for a good cause.
Tuesday: Tegan & Sara, Calvin Theatre – I don’t know what to call this quirky pair – “punk folk? Whatever – they sport an infectious sound, with bouncing rhythms and popping harmonies. You probably haven’t heard them on the radio, but they’ve been all over TV shows like One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy and Veronica Mars. They even appeared as themselves on “The L Word” – most bands are content to be on the soundtrack.