"Let the Music Play" -- remix --

Check the EFF's "Let the Music Play" white paper. PDF here.

As posted today to Microsound.org, here is a response to this proposal by the EFF:

Agreed that this is a disappointing proposal on the surface and yet one that contains hints of its potential not gleaned at the outset. On the one hand, it specifically states, and as a positive factor, that copyright law doesn't have to be amended, while many agree that current manifestations of copyright are *exactly* the problem and issue at stake that should be challenged. And it limits its case to the US; this is interesting as piracy is a much more serious issue throughout Asia--not through P2P, but through CD reduplication plants.

Moreover, I think many would like to see the RIAA and the Big 4 go down. Culturally they are hegemonic, authoritarian institutions with a long history of desiccating artists and rerouting payola to construct pop culture "hits" through coercive tactics and homogenic approaches to art. As noted their hold on radio has always actively fought against public use of the airwaves. The RIAA and the Big 4 have never held the public interest in high esteem. Understandably, they are hierarchical structures that seek to maintain their socioeconomic power, and until this structure changes, their mandate will always remain the same. (Guattari noted this in the '80s with his support of pirate radio--see this essay from Simon Reynolds, this interview with Charles Stivale & this critique here). To a degree, I understand the EFF's tactic: P2P offers a distributed resistance to the Big 4, and by maintaining these networks the potential for the _irrelevance_ of corporate structure comes to the fore, as music becomes freed from its traditional channels of distribution. However I think many see no reason to appease these ailing cultural industries. The rap goes like this: Copyright law needs to be changed. If the courts won't allow it, the multitudes will do it for them. The EFF's tactic reeks of paying off the local mafia man.. or, is the EFF simply buying time?

I think many will remain disturbed by the EFF offering 3 billion in net profit for doing *nothing* -- not having to release music, not having to do anything to change the contracts that many major label artists (Chuck D, etc) have spoken out against. It appears that the EFF is wavering over supporting artists who have turned against the major labels. The structure of copyright and major label contracts need to change; whatever copyright will become, it needs to be in the hands of the artist, not the corporate structure. The question is: how does one go about doing this?

In the long run, perhaps this is only a tactic. Buying time while P2P comes to reroute the social networks and thus the economic conduits. No doubt the EFF has written this proposal as a tasty plucking for RIAA lawyers looking for alternatives and attempting to balance image vs. strongarm strategies (such as their private SWAT team). However, the EFF risks losing its support if it is seen as simply bending over to the RIAA. And it also risks putting into place an omnipresent payola system to a series of corporations that no longer have to *anything* to appease public interest, nor, even advertise their cultural product--for their revenues, if implemented as part of bandwidth, university access, and so on, will be automatic. And that is not socialist; that is authoritarian.

posted. Sat - February 28, 2004 @ 11:06 AM           |