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Wicked Witch Glimmers Clue
2002-02-05 19:20:41

Brain-Dead Judge Watch
Bad People drink bad beer.
-- HST


Amidst the recent dramas of killing friendly Afghans, letting corporate bastardos shred evidence, and watching politicos forget they got bought, a little bomblet snuck under the radar and almost made me drop my drink.

In a boring hearing intended to confirm that she wasn't going to really do anything for awhile, Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel allowed as how she might, maybe somehow, have glimpsed the possibility of a real clue. This is surprising because earlier she'd ruled like she'd been paid off (maybe she was - but in that case she apparently might not stay bought).

What she said was that she intends to entertain a fresh discovery phase of the Napster case to see whether the major music labels ("a bunch of knuckle-dragging thieves and hooligans" according to Eben Moglen of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) may have abused their music copyrights.

Now I ain't no lawyer (hell, us Space Marines see a lawyers convention as a potential "target rich environment"), but it sounds like Napster's Wicked Witch of the West might reconsider, and slam it to the Music Weasel oligopoly.

Quick tour. A couple of hundred years ago British publishers purchased laws that interpreted copyright as a monopoly, now the large publishing companies in Europe are based in... the Netherlands and Germany. About 1900, music publishers tried to ban sheet-music - settled for royalties. When cassette tapes appeared, the Music Weasels tried to ban tape recorders. VCRs, same thing, but that resulted in the Home Recording Act, a setback for big media. Now twenty some years on, they want to kill off Fair Use and impose pay-to-play (every single effing play, they dream) for music, TV shows, movies, and anything else that's digital content, they can own.

Somewhere along the way ASCAP and BMI got established. These are simply retirement farms for former mob leg-breakers who aren't up to hard work, hijacking armored cars and shit anymore, so they "retire" into extorting "performance" fees from jukebox owners and public places which play CDs. This is the gawd's truth on the ground about the "music industry" kiddos.

Part of what the Napster case is really about is their insatiable hunger to extend this extortion into your home. Pay-to-play, every fuckin time. If big music has its way, you'll get overweight goons at your front door wearing dark plastic shirts with light polyester ties, with US Marshalls, ready to take you to jail unless you pay for that CD burned for your S.O.

Never mind that they extort the copyrights from the actual musicians then claim they're "protecting musician's rights" in litigating their bullshit. The fact is, a musician is lucky to see 5 cents of every dollar in sales, once the big music accounting scams are finished. Ask any "signed" band. The "creative accounting" in major entertainment biz makes Enron's oopsie look like a neighborhood gas station with two sets of paper ledger books.

Therefore, let us hope that Judge Marilyn Hall Patel gains further clues.

And a man must believe in something: I believe I will pour another shot.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.


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