Who's Who Of Clueless Music Industry Lobbyists Send Angry Letter To Wrong Publisher

from the nice-work-guys dept

Sometimes it just feels like the legacy music industry folks spend their time trying to make it easy for us to call them on their bizarre positions. The latest is a pretty laughable angry letter from a who's who of the organizations, who represent the past of the music industry. Signers to the letter include (among others) the heads of the RIAA, ASCAP, SoundExchange, BMI, SESAC, NMPA, AFTRA, Harry Fox and the Songwriter's Guild. The target of their scorn? Well, officially, it's the CEO of Ziff Davis, publisher of PC Mag, for publishing two articles in the wake of the shutdown of Limewire telling people about "alternatives" to Limewire. The problem? Well, beyond being totally pointless, PC Mag only published one of the articles (the one the letter seems to find less objectionable). The other article that they complained about was published by a totally different publication. Accuracy is not big with the old school music industry, it seems.

Yes, PC Mag published an article highlighting alternatives to LimeWire, just like a ton of other websites did. Anyone who was looking for an alternative to LimeWire didn't need PCMag to find them. In fact, many reports noted a noticeable increase of downloads of those alternatives pretty quickly after LimeWire went down. The lobbyists get pretty worked up about all this, though:
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)."
Yes, they're quite upset about that article about the LimeWire Pirate Edition (which we wrote about as well). Only problem? PCMag didn't publish it. Nor did any other Ziff Davis publications. It was actually in PC World, which is published by IDG -- a totally different company than Ziff Davis. Now, it's not hard to confuse PCMag and PC World -- lots of people do. But when sending an angry letter condemning a publisher, you would think that maybe one of these super powerful industry lobbyist/mouthpieces would think to actually check the sources before mouthing off.

Apparently not.

Given this mistake, it should come as little surprise that the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" numbers due to "piracy" -- numbers that have been widely debunked so many times that it's almost pathological that these groups still cling to them like some talisman. Also, it's kind of funny that they imply the publishing business would feel differently if it had also been decimated by free competition (they call it "piracy," but they mean free competition). Ziff Davis is, in fact, a shell of its former self due to exactly that situation. However, the company has been trying hard to resurrect itself by actually competing in the marketplace -- something the signers of this letter could learn from.

Of course, I'm sort of curious what these groups actually think they're accomplishing with a letter like this. If it's to pressure magazines like PC Mag (or, ahem, PC World) not to publish such stories, that won't stop the info from getting out there. It will only increase the irrelevance of those publications -- especially if they feel brow-beaten by a bunch of dinosaurs, who refuse to adapt no matter how many times it's been shown to them how they can embrace the future successfully. This really feels like the sort of letter that these guys signed onto so they can show their constituency that they're "doing something" by stomping their feet, rather than actually doing something helpful like helping those they represent to adapt and embrace new opportunities. The full amusing letter is included after the jump...
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.

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)."

Our argument is buttressed by the fact that PC Magazine offered no alternatives that are 100% legal. 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. 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.

We hope you will consider retracting the article and stating your strong support of only legal methods of obtaining music.

Sincerely,
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
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Filed Under: fact checking, journalism, lobbyists, music industry, pc mag, pc world, publishing
Companies: ascap, bmi, idg, nmpa, riaa, sesac, sga, soundexchange, ziff davis


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  1. identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 24 Nov 2010 @ 3:18pm

    So produce your own works!

    First, HA for your own accuracy, Mike: 'the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" ' -- The quoted term "job loss" appears nowhere in the referenced letter. -- Mistakes happen, such as a letter directed to wrong place, or a byline (to the side instead of properly placed in the reading stream) missed. Those don't matter except that lightweights use them to gleefully skip your main point.

    However, you go quite wacky in: '(they call it "piracy," but they mean free competition).'

    You equate "piracy" with "free competition". -- So do I! Just not quite the way that I think you intend. -- However, let's nail this down: file-sharing of copyrighted material may not be literal "piracy", but neither is it anywhere near what you surely mean by "free competition", because there's *no* exchange of value: the "content" is simply, er, used, to avoid quibbles over the "taking" of "infinite goods", without even a *reasonable* payment in return. I consider that not only unfair but unhealthy for society.

    I'll interrupt to say yet again that I'm not for the media industry: they're greedy and have bought politicians to change established rules in their favor, without no concern for anything but profit. Therefore I see little wrong with file-sharing as a way to protest the prices, particularly on material that's actually under the old rules and should now be public domain. Also, stealing from The Thieving Rich is good Robin Hood morality. -- Both the creators and the public are getting ripped off by the current regimes. Solution is *easy*: just put a cap on incomes, remove the profit motive, keep whole clans of The Rich from burdening others. -- Out of your field: not economics, but justice.

    Anyhoo, at same time, I think it fair to *protect* "content" that are easily "used" without payment. I doubt that your notions of "give product away free and hope to somehow get money" are going to work for the entire market, and in any case, that ain't current reality -- which is looking more stubborn every day.

    Yes, I've heard (often) your assertion that "piracy" actually helps the "content" industries -- and it may (I tend to agree) -- but you don't seem to grasp that they don't *want* that kind of help! If copyright means anything -- and I *wish* that it do (on the OLD terms) -- then it should prevent the copying that you say causes no harm. -- It DOES when people can be identified! Difficulty of finding people on these dang new-fangled internets is being taken care of. -- Again, I'm not for that: it's a FACT. Your refusal to recognize the actuality of the transformation of law and practice while proclaiming your idealism is going to serve you ill. Odds are high that moneyed forces will win, and to some degree "piracy" antagonizes them, and to *some* degree justifies their actions too.

    Similarly, to some degree, "pirates" are bringing on draconian regimes. -- In my view, it's because large masses of dolts so eagerly consume crap, and many pay ridiculous prices for it. -- In my view, if you want exciting content for "free", it's best to create it yourself (we used to call those hobbies), and even if not as good (which one should be objective about), it's truly yours, attuned to your tastes (which may be TOO illuminating). Just analyze flaws ruthlessly, and keep refining it. The process is its own reward.

    So instead of this endless bickering about copyright (which *always* ends up as the expectation / continuation of ridiculous incomes), TURN OFF THE TV and produce your own content.

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