I’m Thinking Of A ~ Late Night Thoughts

If you have never read “The Onion” you have missed a delightful collection of completely made-up fanciful and commentary articles. In October 2, 2002 they printed an article that shows they had their crystal ball completely polished – or at least pointed in the right direction. Thanks to durnMoose blogs for printing this article!

The Onion

RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music

LOS ANGELES-The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

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Here is the complete article:

LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation’s radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

“It’s criminal,” RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. “Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?”

According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists’ CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.

“These radio stations are extremely popular,” Rosen said. “They flagrantly string our songs together in ‘uninterrupted music blocks’ of up to 70 minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD’s worth of product without a break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise between songs. It’s bad enough that they’re giving away our music for free, but they’re actually making a profit off this scheme.”

RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.

“If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician’s ability to earn a living off his music,” Frackman said. “[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell a man who’s devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?”

For the record companies and the RIAA, one of the most disturbing aspects of the radio-station broadcasts is that anyone with a receiver and an analog tape recorder can record the music and play it back at will.

“I’ve heard reports that children as young as 8 tape radio broadcasts for their own personal use,” Rosen said. “They listen to a channel that has a limited rotation of only the most popular songs—commonly called ‘Top 40’ stations—then hit the ‘record’ button when they hear the opening strains of the song they want. And how much are they paying for these songs? A big fat zip.”

Continued Rosen: “According to our research, there is one of these Top 40 stations in every major city in the country. This has to be stopped before the music industry’s entire economic infrastructure collapses.”

Especially distressing to the RIAA are radio stations’ “all-request hours,” when listeners call in to ask radio announcers, or “disc jockeys,” to play a certain song.

“What’s the point of putting out a new Ja Rule or Sum 41 album if people can just call up and hear any song off the album that they want?” Frackman asked. “In some instances, these stations actually have the nerve to let the caller ‘dedicate’ his act of thievery to a friend or lover. Could you imagine a bank letting somebody rob its vaults and then allowing the thief to thank his girlfriend Tricia and the whole gang down at Bumpy’s?”

Defenders of radio-based music distribution insist that the relatively poor sound quality of radio broadcasts negates the record companies’ charges.

“Radio doesn’t have the same sound quality as a CD,” said Paul “Cubby” Bryant, music director of New York radio station Z100, one of the nation’s largest distributors of free music and a defendant in the suit. “Real music lovers will still buy CDs. If anything, we’re exposing people to music they might not otherwise hear. These record companies should be thanking us, not suing us.”

Outraged by the RIAA suit, many radio listeners are threatening to boycott the record companies.

“All these companies care about is profits,” said Amy Legrand, 21, an avid Jacksonville, FL, radio user who surreptitiously records up to 10 songs a day off the radio. “Top 40 radio is taking the power out of the hands of the Ahmet Erteguns of the world and bringing it back to the people of Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting. It’s about time somebody finally stood up to those record-company fascists.”

And of course, we know that a couple of years later the RIAA began suing anyone they could possibly think of who might have a single song/CD in their possession that might be a copy. Aside from actually dealing with people who were making enormous quantities of music available, they have also gone after grandmother’s who had no idea how to operate a computer – and there is even a story floating around that they have sued at least three dead people.

Of course, they were a number of years behind ASCAP (another royalty organization) that was collecting money if a Girl Scout Camp sang “God Bless America” around the campfire, but that’s another post!

I was looking through “The Onion” archives and found this article dated November 30, 2005. At first glance, it seemed like just another Onion article that John Stewart might have used.

The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. “We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material,” a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. “We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating ‘buzz’ about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves.” RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth “favorites-sharing” sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.

However – this week a serious bill began to make it’s way through the “hallowed halls” of Congress. Here are some of the key provisions:

Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright.
Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department’s summary of the legislation says: “It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.”)

–Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software.
Anyone using counterfeit products who “recklessly causes or attempts to cause death” can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

–Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations.
Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights.

–Allow computers to be seized more readily.
Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture.

Any chuckling over The Onion article stopped. I was teaching in India when Indira Ghandi with a single stroke of a pen took all liberties away (including those afforded to those of us who were working there). Somehow, when I read/think about some of the things going on – or proposed, I hear faint sounds of the Sitar in the background.

An Early Morning "Mashup" ~ Early Morning Thoughts

In popular culture, Mashup usually means:
–Mashup (music), a musical genre of songs that consist entirely of parts of other songs
–Mashup (web application hybrid), a website or web application that combines content from more than one source
–Mashup (video), a video that is edited from more than one source to appear as one
–Mashup, in parts of the UK also means a brew, or a pot of tea (colloq. Yorkshire)

When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees
Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.

When music sounds, out of the water rise
Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes,
Rapt in strange dreams burns each enchanted face,
With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place.

When music sounds, all that I was I am
Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came;
And from Time’s woods break into distant song
The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.
–Walter de la Mare

I had posted this clip once before – but in the spirit of mashup, I offer it as an encore.

The music in the air is so loud…
Yet it goes unnoticed daily
The melodies are of wars and rumors of the same…
Things considered unimportant and remotely real to the routine of simple survival
The mass of the peoples are accustomed to a life of conflicts…
And have adjusted a long time ago
Truly, wars are bad news…
And rumors of independent battles accompany high anxiety and stress
The will to survive becomes one’s greatest weapon…
New days mean new beginnings
While the instruments play the songs of division…
The spirit of the wise becomes real
Peace in time…
Appreciate it when it comes
It’s like the traveling winds…
That we enjoy sometimes
Let’s embrace the appetite for more brotherhood on a global scale…
Remedies for the killings, and unnecessary losses must play more
Let the new band play therefore…
And let’s begin to dance in peace, to peace and for peace
–Dennis Dames

The Queen(s)

I’m an avid follower of The New York Post’s Page Six. This morning, while enjoying a cup of coffee, I read this item:

Think Of Spam

IF you ever get an audience with Queen Elizabeth II and are unsure of how to act, don’t worry – her courtiers will send you a memo. All the VIPs who walked the red carpet at the new James Bond movie “Casino Royale” premiere, including Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench and Chris Cornell, received “extensive training” and a pamphlet describing “Royal Protocol.” It said the Queen was to be referred to as “Her Majesty” or “Ma’am” – which was to rhyme with “spam” or “lamb.” Some cast members actually had the pamphlet folded in their pockets on the night of the screening.

It reminded me of a story about Virgil Fox, the great classical organist/showman. Virgil was never known for his subtlety (anyone wearing a pink lined full cape could hardly be described as subtle!) He was also famous, from what I understand, for referring to everyone as “honey” with astounding results sometimes. Obviously, he had never received he pamphlet about addressing the Queen (from a queen)because as the story goes, he also greeted Her Majesty as “honey.” I have no reports as to her reaction.

My personal introduction to Virgil was as amusing as all Virgil stories seem to be. I was going to school in Missoula, MT and the owners of the Wilma Theater (more on that for later posts!) were refurbishing their theater organ. The person in charge of this was a brilliant theater organist by the name of Andy Crow. Since Virgil toured with the “heavy organ” for the Rogers Organ Company, Andy went along to set the beast up and make sure all was working. Andy had left me his number should there be any problems with the organ – and there was.

The organ developed a severe case of “cypher” … stuck pipe that tweets away continually. I called the number and someone other than Andy answered the phone. I said I needed to speak to Andy about an organ problem (not the best choice of words). There was a deep chuckle, then the voice announced himself as Virgil Fox and stated he knew something about organs (another chuckle) and what was the problem. Stuttering and stammering (being in the presence of someone like that even on the phone could do that to me!) I outlined the problem. Virgil told me to get a pen and paper. This caused much scrambling on my part. He then began to outline the steps that I should take. I was copying the great man’s steps down exactly. The one point that threw me was to get a large hammer. Step by step he continued to outline the points. The last of which was to “find the offending pipe and beat the “hell out of it with the hammer.” His last statement to me was: “Honey, I’ll have Andy call you back.” and he hung up.

Virgil was obsessed with making great organ music popular with everyone (which did NOT make him popular with other organists and the Guild of American Organists) . He wasn’t content just to tour, sit at the console, play a few pieces and then leave. He believed that his audiences should be involved, thrilled and participate in the experience. What really convinced him this could happen was his performance at the Fillmore East – known only for it’s rock concerts> This being the 70’s, it also was known for a rather heavy cloud of smoke not from cigarettes(!) and other-um-mind enhancers. (how’s that for beating around the bush?)

The unverified story at the time was that Virgil’s secretary was not at the office when a call came. Virgil answered it and it was the Fillmore East wanting him to perform. Virgil had no idea who they were, but since they wanted a concert, he checked his schedule and the date was free. He said that his secretary/booking agent would call them back to finalize. The secretary was stunned and explained to Virgil exactly where he would be playing and for whom. Virgil loved it!! He then realized he needed to “add” to the concert and went to a large lighting design firm and said he wanted a “Bach light show.” They designed one, and for the next 9 years Virgil toured with the “heavy organ” and the “heavy lights.”

Virgil’s performance at the Fillmore is the (trite phrase) stuff-of-legends. He wore a velvet “Lord Fauntleroy” outfit. And talked before, during and after each piece. Of course, his record company recorded the event, and the recording was quite a sensation. At one point during one of the pieces a very stoned voice cries out: “Goooooo Virgil!” Without missing a beat, Virgil says into the microphone: “Johann Sebastian Bach and I are very glad you’re here.”

There is also the story of the dirty joke that was on the record, but I will have to listen to the recording again and make sure.

I’m including two clips of Virgil performing … the first is just a concert clip beautifully photographed. The second is from a Boston Pops performance, and gives a wonderful idea of just how involved his audiences could get.

Let me add – Virgil was always in control. Although he was considered flashy and flamboyant … he did more to remove the fear of classic music and the classical music experience than anyone and that includes Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” He introduced many to classical music for the first time, and I can vouch that his concerts got many people to search further into classical music and performances.