Friday, August 17, 2007

the evil empire

The RIAA claims that it represents artists. If so it is only vicariously. It represents record companies. This from its own webpages:
"The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.

Artists are represented, if at all, only in connection with the RIAA's activities as a trade group in support of its constituent members. And it is debateable whether by representing record companies it, therefore, represents artists. But to say it represents the big record labels would not create as much sympathy for its purported mission as saying it represents artists. And the record labels themselves don't actually represent artists, they exploit and profit from artists, and when there's no more profit to be made, the artist's contract is terminated and the artist goes bankrupt. One practice used by the labels: to incorporate into standard contracts "work for hire" terms despite the fact that "work for hire" as defined by the U.S. Copyright code in 17 USC 101, does not define a record contract as permitting "work for hire." When the law was changed in the late 1990s, the RIAA pushed for a definition of "work for hire" to include recording contracts, many artists and even ASCAP fought this and the law change was reversed. Despite that, labels still incorporate the language, all with a purpose of taking away all rights from their recording artists, including the right of terminating the copyright license within 35 years under the code. Very sneaky. When the RIAA speaks, it speaks for its member major record labels and no one else. If it were up to them and SeX (sound exchange), no one would be able to ever listen to any piece of music without directly paying for it then and there. Free music in the future will only be available from street musicians who play on street corners.
--Brian Lee Corber, attorney at law, Panorama City, CA 91412-4656, 818-786-7133,