Picking out people and knocking them down / resisting arrest as they’re kicked on the ground

I linked a few days back to Andrew Dub­ber’s inter­view at Home­tracked, and men­tioned his down­load­able free e-book, on the new indus­try, and ways to nav­i­gate such. Since then Andrew has found him­self in the mid­dle of quite some lit­tle Inter­net firestorm. It all start­ed when he post­ed a link to a post on a site called Down­load Squad. The sto­ry had to do with a law­suit a cer­tain Ms. Del Cid of Flori­da is fil­ing against the RIAA to counter an action the US indus­try body is tak­ing against her.

The piece on Down­load Squad is word­ed as a per­fect­ly straight­for­ward news sto­ry with a few opin­ions thrown in there, the strongest being

The RIAA has been ter­ror­iz­ing many peo­ple who they knew didn’t have any­thing to do with alleged copy­right vio­la­tions, includ­ing dead peo­ple, young chil­dren, and the elder­ly.

Which, I guess from the RIAA’s POV, is strong stuff, but real­ly no more so than what is more less gen­er­al­ly pub­licly per­ceived. The RIAA has been round­ly crit­i­cised across the spec­trum for the way it’s pur­sued down­load­ers, often very insignif­i­cant, and the mer­ci­less per­se­cu­tion of peo­ple who’s lives would like­ly be ruined by the action.

Andrew’s blog’s pri­ma­ry focus is the way the new tech­nol­o­gy can be utilised to advan­tage by artists and labels, and a sto­ry like this is clear­ly high­ly rel­e­vant as the result of the suit could poten­tial­ly be prece­dent set­ting. So he linked to the sto­ry.

How­ev­er, a cer­tain Paul Birch, own­er of an inde­pen­dent UK label, Revolver Records, took excep­tion to the link and so began the astound­ing email dis­course which can be found here. Mr Birch is also a board mem­ber of the IFPI – the inter­na­tion­al body rep­re­sent­ing the record indus­try.

The back and forth was gob-smack­ing, Mr Birch, clear­ly a man of some stand­ing in the UK’s indus­try was at times abu­sive, threat­en­ing, irra­tional and con­tra­dic­to­ry. But the upshot was that he gave the impres­sion of an unpleas­ant bul­ly threat­en­ing to shut Andrew down and make a com­plaint to his employ­ers sim­ply because Andrew linked to a site mak­ing a com­ment, under the pro­vi­sions, I guess, in the US, of the First Amend­ment. It was very ugly and unnec­es­sary. And Andrew was nev­er less than polite and com­plete­ly pro­fes­sion­al in respons­es.

Mr Birch says, amongst oth­er things:

I think that what is more desir­able is to take down links from your site that pro­mote this hatred of the record­ing Indus­try, because the assump­tion is that by link­ing to them that you sup­port the extreme view her­ald­ed.


Andrew sent through, with Mr Birch’s per­mis­sion, the con­ver­sa­tion as a part of his reg­u­lar blog email updates, and I received it on Sat­ur­day evening.

With 24 hours it had gone around the world, was high­ly placed on digg, had a thread on the US Indus­try forum, Vel­vet Rope, and had hit dozens of blogs.

Paul Birch was famous and for all the wrong rea­sons. He was, uni­ver­sal­ly derid­ed for both his stance and his nasty bul­ly­ing; Andrew’s site crashed for 24 hours because of excess traf­fic and Mr Birch had giv­en the orig­i­nal sto­ry brand new legs.

None of which seems sur­pris­ing because look­ing at Revolver’s ter­ri­ble web­site and their half-baked My Space, they are tru­ly Lud­dites, dinosaurs…the world has passed them by. A major inde­pen­dent UK label which has vir­tu­al­ly no web pres­ence, and what there is includes a bunch of bad­ly for­mat­ted links to var­i­ous copy­right issues. This guy doesn’t under­stand the mod­ern world, but he seems to be aggres­sive­ly obsessed by tilt­ing at it.

And as if any­thing could be more indica­tive of the hole the record indus­try finds itself it, and is dig­ging ever larg­er every day, our Lud­dite bul­ly boy is on the board of the world’s record­ing indus­try body (I must tell the sto­ry of the time a Blam Blam Blam mem­ber asked the pres­i­dent of said body if he had any drugs… but not now), which of course includes the RIAA as its largest mem­ber. The same body which is accused, on paper, screen, and now in the courts of threat­en­ing and bul­ly­ing behav­iour. Gosh …

As an opin­ion­at­ed aside, look­ing at Revolver and its sub­sidiary, the imag­i­na­tive­ly named “Heavy Met­al Records” (a forth­com­ing album on the page due for release in Jan 2006!), it’s hard not to want to throw some of the blame for any pain Mr Birch might be feel­ing back in his A&R face. What an appalling cat­a­logue of shab­by dat­ed acts, dodgy live record­ings, fall­en acts’ re-record­ings of their hits and the like – and he’s on the board of the IFPI.

It speaks vol­umes, no?


A day lat­er Andrew found him­self explain­ing basic copy­right para­me­ters to Mr Birch

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