File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1998/avant-garde.9808, message 2

Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 14:59:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Fair Use: The big Chill? (fwd)

Forward from Peter Conheim on behalf of Negativland.
Maybe the RIAA should rename itself "Recording Is Abusing Americans"?


Amazingly bad news has just come down the pike that I thought worth
mentioning here.  It would appear that the R.I.A.A. (the dreaded
Recording Industry Association of America, they who wanted a blank
tape tax, among other things) has rather recently begun their latest
Major Crackdown on "piracy", this time on "uncleared" samples -  and
the target is pressing plants.

We were informed yesterday by our manufacturer for years of releases
that they were refusing to manufacture the new Negativland OVER THE
EDGE disc due to a Pink Floyd sample that they detected within which
we had not cleared.  Trying to explain that this was a radio show with
lots of sources mixed in was obviously a failure and rather suddenly
our production schedule ground to a halt...but that's only part of the
story.  Through this incident, we learned of an industry-wide R.I.A.A.

Apparently, they've declared war on this heinous form of piracy by not
only citing disc manufacturers $100,000 per supposed infraction, but
by presenting new guidelines stating, among other things, that a
pressing plant possessing an item in question (and I emphasize IN
QUESTION) must turn over that item and all master parts to the
R.I.A.A. for "investigation".  In other words, it's no longer the case
that a LABEL is solely responsible for its "content": the pressing
plants are both the new cops _and_ the new victims.  Pressing plants
are actually LISTENING to the masters they get and looking for
ringers!  It had previously seemed very hard to imagine some staff
person at a pressing plant sitting in front of a CD player, finger on
the scan button, searching for unauthorized reproductions.  It's
happening.  The R.I.A.A. has positioned itself as judge and jury.  The
ramifications for this are rather enormous.

We immediately learned of several other releases by various labels
around the country who have suddenly had their pressings refused by
different makers (this is by no means exclusive to our
manufacturer...we learned of huge fines being levelled at other
plants).  In one case, a CD was refused that was to be a not-for-sale
short-run for club DJ's only.

The R.I.A.A. is basically a corporate watchdog for the Big Six
mega-companies (Time Warner, et al)  in the US.  They are being
extremely vague about just what "guidelines" they have instituted,
which they expect to be complied with, are.  My friend Steve (who was
on the committee which helped fund SONIC OUTLAWS) remarked something
to the effect of, "what AUTHORITY does the RIAA really have?  They're
not the state, and a pressing plant might not necessarily be paying
them dues or considering them in any way, so what right do they have
to dictate manufacturing?"  And if he's on-the-money here, WHY
shouldn't plants be telling them to fuck off or butt out??  He also
questioned how they could enforce payment of a fine.

Naturally, everyone is immediately thinking the same thing: taking it
BACK into the home studio is such the logical choice.  Big problems,
though: CD-R's are delicate.  Accelerated aging tests have shown that
they don't retain their information indefinitely, and more to the
point, they are very sensitive to heat and light.  And also to
touching the top layer (with a sticker or some sort of writing) is
risky.  AND there are compatibility issues with them: evidentally they
have trouble being read by some CD players ( is a great
resource for CD-R FAQ).

In any case, on the level of mass replication, this will very likely
have a huge effect on the entire found/recycled music culture should
the R.I.A.A.'s Big Brother tactics not abate soon.  At the very least,
very close to home, the new Negativland release and the ENTIRE back
catalog is now completely up in the air.  We think we've found a plant
to handle the current release but we have no idea if it will actually
go through or not!   Who would have touched DISPEPSI under
circumstances like these??

on behalf of NEGATIVLAND

BM Box 3641, London WC1N 3XX, England U.K.    

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