Posts filed under Music

Update: RIAA Still Completely Insane, Just Not Acting On It (Yet)

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Computers, Copyright, Fair Use, Internet, Music, Technology

Yesterday I wrote about an RIAA lawsuit against someone solely for ripping legally purchased music CDs. Engadget posted an update that the lawsuit is not for ripping CDs, but rather is one of RIAA's garden-variety MP3 distribution lawsuits. A commenter on their previous post linked to the summary judgement that states as much.

While I pointed out in the previous post that the RIAA still states its belief that ripping CDs - even for personal use - is a copyright violation, they (thus far) have yet to make that argument in court. Here is a key statement from the brief (pg. 6, lines 11-20 - emphasis added):

Howell also objects to liability on the grounds that he owns compact discs (“CDs”) containing the disputed sound recordings and that he “translated” them to his computer for personal use. In support of this argument, Howell attached photographs of CDs and cases to his Response. However, the question is not whether Howell owned legitimate copies of some of the sound recordings on CD, but instead whether he distributed copies of the recordings without authorization. Howell’s right to use for personal enjoyment copyrighted works on CDs he purchased does not confer a right to distribute those works to others without Plaintiffs’ authorization. 17 U.S.C. § 106(3). As he admitted that the sound recordings were “being shared by [his] Kazaa account,” Howell is liable for distributing them in violation of the recording companies’ exclusive right.

That said, given the RIAA's rumblings, don't b e surprised when they eventually sue someone merely for ripping legally purchased CDs.

I would also point out something that may prove to be the impetus for not only the downfall of the RIAA's war on consumers, but also for the application of current copyright law - and that is the application of current statutory damages for copyright infringement to MP3 distribution. Current law allows for damages from $750 to $30,000+ per infringed work.

Given that the going rate for an MP3 is on the order of $1 per song, awarding a statutory damage of even the minimum $750 per song is absolutely outrageous - especially considering that the lawsuit is a case of distribution-by-making-available claim. Here, the RIAA made no effort to prove any actual distribution, but only that the defendant violated laws against distribution of copyrighted work merely by making it available in a publicly accessible, "shared" folder.

Clearly, the RIAA here cannot show anything close to $750 per song in actual damages - and even if the award is considered punitive rather than statutory, the punishment far outweighs the crime. The RIAA's continual pursuit of these statutory damage awards will not only result in a consumer revolt, but may actually lead to public outcry for a revision of the copyright law in question.

Of course, music labels - and thus, the RIAA - are on the verge of going the way of the dinosaur. More artists will produce and distribute their works independently, cutting out the middlemen represented by the RIAA.

IMO, it can't happen soon enough.

RIAA Officially Gives Paying Customers the Middle Finger

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Computers, Copyright, Fair Use, Music, Technology

Engadget links to a report that the RIAA is suing someone not for distributing digital copies of music, but for making personal digital copies of legally purchased CDs. Some of the quotes from the RIAA and their lawyers are amazing:

"If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."

At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.

Like the defendant in this absurd lawsuit, I am confident that the courts will uphold what is clearly a fair use of copyrighted work. The RIAA will rue the day tha tthey brought this lawsuit - not only for their legal defeat, but also for the public relations nightmare that the suit will become.

Note that this is not the first time the RIAA has made this argument. Of course, the last time it did so, it directly contradicted its own testimony before the U.S. Supreme court, in which RIAA lawyers stated:

"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."

Fair-use resources: EFF, Chilling Effects, Stanford Law

Get Hunter “The Punter” Smith’s Autograph!

Filed in Religion, SportsTags: Christianity, Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, Music, NFL

To all my Colts-fan friends: here's an easy way to get an autograph from Colts punter Hunter Smith. His band, Connersvine, is releasing an album October 23, 2007. Pre-order the album, and it will come with an autographed insert. See the official web site for details.

Oh, and for those of you in Indy, you might be interested to know that Connersvine will be having a CD release party at Trader's Point Christian Church, on the far northwest side.

Vote For Randy

Filed in PersonalTags: Friends, Kalamazoo, Music

My friend Randy, from my days in Kalamazoo, is a musician in Nashville. He entered a radio station contest, and needs your votes! So, go listen, and Vote For Randy!

“Gabriel, Move Over to Second Trumpet”

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Music, Trumpet

Powerline reports that Maynard Ferguson died yesterday:

Maynard Ferguson (1928-2006) died yesterday. His name is familiar to every trumpet player and everyone who used to play trumpet--like me. Probably 90 percent of those who, as kids, grew up playing trumpet in band class, and tried to emulate a great trumpet player, tried to emulate Maynard. There was nobody like him in the business--his sound was unique in its virtuosity of power.

Count me among those who tried to emulate his sound. I still remember the evening of a high school wind band concert, during warmups, when the director was taking the band through arpeggios, and I accidentally started on middle G instead of low G, and the director went two octaves instead of just one. In a fleeting moment of brilliance, I nailed every note in tune up through the double-high G and back down - then sat red-faced, both from the exertion and from the embarrassment of the director's look of astonishment and his pronouncement that, "ladies and gentlemen, Maynard Ferguson is with us tonight!"

Apparently, he died of liver and kidney failure, due to an abdominal infection. (According to the article, a memorial service will be held here in Saint Louis.) In life, he impacted many, and with more than just his musical abilities.

In the words of friend and manager Steve Schankman:

Someone just said, 'Gabriel, move over to second trumpet,' He was the last of the greats. That era is closed. There is no Kenton, no Basie, no Ellington, and now, no Ferguson.

The music world lost one of its greats.

Saint Louis Songwriters’ Showcase

Filed in PersonalTags: Food/Wine, Friends, Missouri, Music, Photos, Saint Louis

Tonight I'm at the Crave Coffeehouse, just off of the SLU campus, for the Saint Louis Songwriters' group songwriters' showcase. Neat venue for a coffeehouse:

crave coffeehouse
Photo © Crave Coffeehouse

crave coffeehouse
Photo © Crave Coffeehouse

My friend Christina is one of the songwriters performing tonight.

Blue River 2006 Folk Music Festival

Filed in PersonalTags: Indiana, Music, Shelbyville

My hometown church, Town and Country Christian Church in Shelbyville, IN, is hosting the 2006 Blue River Folk Music Festival. The Shelby News has coverage.

REVIEW: Gratitude (Eli)

Filed in ReviewsTags: Music


Album Title: Gratitude - website
Album Artist: Eli
Release Date:2004, Independent (Cool Flame Shoes Music)

Gratitude marks the first new studio release for Eli since leaving Forefront records. Eli has chosen to go the route of the independent artist, and this release suffers none for that decision. Gratitude retains Eli's acoustic pop/coffeehouse sound, yet represents growth in sound, lyrics, and style. The album has no major deviations from previous releases, yet is different enough not to sound "cookie-cutter".

Eli's songwriting has always been notable for his openness, honesty, and lack of inhibition from discussing real issues with which he has struggled. The songwriting on Gratitude retains this honesty, the lyrics have evolved much as has the life of the songwriter. Eli's music still appeals to the everyday struggles of the common man trying to live a life of Christ. The change with Gratitude seems to be that, while the raw honesty remains, the edginess appears to have been smoothed somewhat.

The first track, I Am Your Fire, is an appeal to those who would seek fulfillment everywhere but in God. The song opens with a gospel-esque keyboard riff, but transitions into Eli's acoustic-guitar style. The second track, Strong, comes across almost as a response to the previous track - that strength is found in God. Heavier bass and layered electric/acoustic guitar introduce Hallelujah, which offers praise in the midst of the contradictory nature of our world.

Hide and Seek juxtaposes faith in the innocence of a childhood game and the burdens of doubt and perseverance. Sing It Out challenges those who would allow their unique voice to be influenced or silenced by others. Norway/New Song is an anthem to making a choice to trust God despite our circumstances, in acknowledgement that His ways are higher than our own. One of the most painfully difficult questions Christians face is that of why bad things happen to good people, and the apparent lack of justice in the world. Only Heaven Knows honestly admits that some questions we cannot answer to our complete satisfaction, yet recognizes that the only truly Good One took the worst the world has to offer upon Himself.

Perhaps the best two songs on the album follow. What We Don't Talk About questions why we keep trying to deal with our struggles alone, rather than accept the help of those who love us and would reach out to us. A quasi-Mediterranean hook reminiscent of Burlap to Cashmere underlies Stuck In The Middle, a repudiation of a compromising attitude and a call to take a stand for right.

The title track, Gratitude, includes some great lyrical composition: "I could have used a friend, I'm sure I used a few / The worst in every man will get the best of you..." The final track, I worship, is a Davidic-style psalm celebrating the faithfulness of God.

Other reviews:
Christianity Today
Alpha Omega News