How Copyright became the number one item on your Governments Todo list.


Setting the Scene.


Consultants are people/firms that are hired to divorce an
organisations internal politics from a result and quite often, consultants
bring with them a differential focused expertise in the area requiring their
expert attention.


There’s an accepted modus operandi for consultancy firms in
business, “When you get hired, look for more ways to expand the consultancy and
extend our tenure.”

Therefore one can think of consultants twofold, firstly as a
necessary adjunct providing a mostly unbiased external professional opinion
assisting the hirer or, as the commercial assassins of the business world,
quite literally referred to as Guns For Hire.


Legislation and your Government.


We have previously discussed how legislation was hard to
understand for the layman and have posited that legislation is obviously written
by lawyers to provide loopholes for other lawyers, thereby ensuring a healthy,
happy and profitable legal system; constituting principally, lawyers, members
of the judiciary, clerks and public servants.


Letters and emails to Government employees inquiring about
the meaning of specific legislation, are sometimes not answered specifically,
or are responded to sometimes unhelpfully, “We are the public service, we don’t
know what the legislators mean. Get an opinion from a lawyer.”


If the Governments own employees are not able give a clear
cut explanation of what the law means, then why are they called “public servants”?


I always thought the definition of a public servant was one
who acted as a conduit between the public and the elected officials.


Of course lawyers won’t want to give an opinion because that
requires a specialist so a barrister needs to be called on, who is an expert in
the area of the law.


So let’s examine the question of “May I loan my iPod full of
music to my girlfriend/boyfriend  who
does not live at my residential address?”


No-one knows. It’s a grey area of law.


On the one hand, the law states “No.”

On the other hand, there might be cohabitation in the future
from which there might spring new taxpayers, so tentatively the answer could be


For purposes of social security benefits, the test is
whether her clothes are hanging in your closet, in other words, are there


The confusion surrounding our copyright laws as currently
drafted can only result in further ill will and a general contempt and total
disregard for the copyright legislation.


Lets examine the cost of that. Finding a lawyer, asking the
question, appointment of a barrister (because this is an untested aspect of the
legislation) and obtaining his opinion.


Using a junior barrister would no doubt require
approximately two to thee hours of research, an hour for drafting the reply,
which would then need to be reviewed by the attorney who would then draft a
letter and send it to you with the Barristers opinion attached.


Solicitor at $350 per hour, junior Barrister at $400 per
hour would mean that this question would cost about $2,000 to have answered.


Is it any wonder that the public don’t bother to obtain
clarification on copyright matters before embarking on a course of action?


So how did we get here?


Background History


The RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America) was
formed as a consultancy lobbying and enforcement group to combat commercial


As any good consultancy firm, they expanded their mantle of
responsibility to encompass VCR’s and Cassette tape home recordings.


As all organisations, they needed to grow to provide
security of tenure for their employees.


Their funding is elicited from their members which are
comprised of the recording labels.


Therefore similar to a research organisation seeking Grants
from Government, the RIAA have to seek funds from their members to continue to


This has forced the organisation to continually seek for new
revenue possibilities merely to survive.


However,  some of their
member organisations
(996) no longer want to be on the membership roll (21)
and are fighting bitterly for a divorce and it’s not only the small indie
labels that are concerned of being tarred by the RIAA membership brush.


In an article entitled “Under pressure from EMI, RIAA could
disappear” Arstechnica wrote :


Major label music has had a hard time of it the last few
years; even as the labels have moved plenty of music (due in large part to the
growth of digital downloads), more lucrative CD sales have plummeted. The IFPI
admits that its internal review is prompted in large part “by falling
industry revenues resulting from the decline in global music sales.”

While EMI's threat to pull its funding might seem like a
cost-cutting measure, Variety's source claims that isn't the case at all.
Rather, “Functions and structure need to make sense to all major labels.
Right now, funding them doesn't make sense.”

EMI has been unhappy with the trade groups' work for some
time. Back in November, we noted that EMI
was considering a major cut to its funding
of industry trade groups. EMI,
the smallest of the four major labels, was recently purchased by a private
equity fund that is looking to reinvigorate the label and cut expenses.

EMI was the first of the majors to drop DRM at iTunes and
Amazon, moves that have made its digital music a more attractive option. But if
EMI can force a restructuring of the IFPI and RIAA, the impact could be just as
significant for the industry.


So EMI, the smallest of the big four is doubting it’s
allegiance and involvement with an organisation that is suing children, blind
people, dead people and grandmothers.


EMI is also the company that two years ago recognised the
changing times in Radiohead’s decision to sell direct to the public in an internal
to EMI staff from Guy Hands, EMI’s CEO.


We all know how the Radiohead experiment played out.


Extremely successfully for Radiohead and alarmingly for the
big Record labels who saw the Radiohead initiative as the final nail in the
coffin for their industry..


RIAA being a loyal (but nevertheless self-serving)
consultant have been the protagonists responsible for the several legislative
changes we have had in the last fifteen years.


Legislation that now makes it illegal to loan your iPod to
your best friend.


How does it work?


Industry organisations hire lawyers who draft legislation
and pass it on to lobbyists to effect meaningful change in the  countries they work in.


Initially, lobbying efforts were focused on the main trading
partners of the USA.


Of course, for lawyers and lobbyists to be able to influence
legislation, they need to make political donations.


Here’s a graph of US
based Legal practitioners political donations from 2000 till September 2009.


No, in Australia,
we don’t have lawyers donating $1,211,596,434 to our political parties. Yep,
that was a billion, no mistake.





And if we add in all the other groups, the TV, Movie, Music,
Lobbyists, we get another billion+ dollars.


Basically the RIAA are guns for hire, constantly looking for
new ways to justify their members funding and their own continued survival.


We know that their methods are not always morally acceptable
and that they quite often issue press releases and statements that are not
exactly well researched, or in fact have any empirically confirmed supporting


i.e.: File sharing hurts our members business.

The money we collect from legal suites is for distribution
to the artists. (We have yet to see a single distribution publicised. For an
organisation that has been collecting money form alleged file sharers since
2002, I would seem to be taking them a long time to formally distribute the
collected monies.


So the RIAA lie to consumers?


It would appear so.


Does that include lying to their members?

Does it include lying to their lobbyists?

Does it include that lie being believed by Governments?


Yep. Yep and unfortunately, hell yes.


Unfortunately, this is the way that Government have always
governed and it will take considerable effort to change the system.


Fortunately in Australia,
this is set to change.


Senator Kate Lundy and other politicians in the Labour
Government have commenced the dialogue between politicians and the public
necessary for open and transparent Government.


So our future looks rosy. Providing of course that Senator
Lundy and the other Politicians who are not scared to be judged by their public
peers don’t get steamrolled by the old school.


As in the famous “Yes Prime Minister” TV series,


“Good lord Prime Minister, we  can’t tell the public, what would they think?”

“But Humphrey, they have a right to know.”

“Well that depends Prime Minister, the general consensus in
the Ministry is that we don’t want them knowing because that might mean they start
thinking. And we certainly don’t want the public thinking Prime Minister, that
would never do.”

“Why Humphrey?”

“Because they would then start asking questions Prime
Minister and we don’t have all the answers to all the questions. So we have
decided not to tell them anything. Saves an awful lot of headache Prime

“Yes, I see Humphrey.”





Record industry cutting off nose to
spite face

Will SturgeonThu 8 May 2003 11:52AM BST


Indie Labels Seek to Sever Ties with RIAA

26, 2003

Independent record labels are fighting to have their names
removed from the list of members posted on the Recording Industry Association
of America's Web site. Many of the indie labels say they are not RIAA members.
Some worry that the association with the music industry's crackdown on file
sharers will hurt their image with fans. Joel Rose of member station WHYY

“I sue dead people…”

The RIAA gets overzealous again in its battle against file


Under pressure from EMI, RIAA could disappear


Recording industry withdraws suit


Full Text Of Leaked Guy Hands' Letter To EMI Staff 

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