Will Barack Obama and Joe Biden Save The Music Industry?

A few weeks ago, while reading a Time magazine article on Girl Talk, which is the stage name of popular Pittsburgh, PA-based mash-up DJ Greg Gillis, I was alerted to a youtube video of Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Doyle (D) speaking about Gillis use of copyrighted materials to make his mash-ups projects, and on DJ Drama’s mixtape empire being raided by the RIAA. If you watch the video, Doyle is clearly questioning whether or not copyright law as it applies to sampling, fair use and incorporating songs on mixtapes actually makes sense in this day and age, or whether the law should be changed.

Before we get too in depth, let’s just define the RIAA real quickly:

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.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conducts consumer, industry and technical research; and monitors and reviews state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™, and Diamond sales awards, as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

So you see, the RIAA is like the watchdog group of the music industry. They regulate things, make sure everything runs smoothly (read:legally). The RIAA are responsible for many of the lawsuits against people who’ve downloaded music. They think that peer to peer networks where music files are traded are the enemy. They also think DJs who incorporate music financed and owned by the major record labels and included on mixtapes are the enemy as well (see: DJ Drama).

Moving forward in this country, a big issue is where our new leaders stand in regards to copyright law.

Here’s where the new administration comes in. While Obama’s relatively mum on copyright law (more on that in a sec), CNET published an article back in August about Vice President Elect Joe Biden’s stance. It says

“[Joe Biden] held one Foreign Relations committee hearing in February 2002 titled Theft of American Intellectual Property’ and invited executives from the Justice Department, RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft to speak. Not one Internet company, P2P network, or consumer group was invited to testify… Biden returned to the business of targeting P2P networks this year. In April, he proposed spending $1 billion in U.S. tax dollars so police can monitor peer-to-peer networks for illegal activity.”

The article also states,

‘Last year, Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill called the Perform Act aimed at restricting Americans’ ability to record and play back individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services. (The RIAA sued XM Satellite Radio over precisely this point.)’

Which is all to say that Joe Biden is pretty much pro-copyright. I don’t think he’s going to be jamming to any Girl Talk or Gangsta Grillz mixtapes with a clear conscience any time soon. In fact, sounds like he’s on the side of big media, intent on mowing down peer to peer networks, people who share files online, and those looking to copy and distribute copywritten content.

Obama, on the other hand, “strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.” He also says, “we need to update and reform our copyright.”

So what is it, really, fellas? Is it reform, or is it siding with the RIAA and all the other big media watchdog groups and suing people for copyright violations at the hands of file sharing through peer to peer networks?

  • Queens Boy

    ALTHOUGH I LOVE DOWNLOADING MUSIC OFFLINE I AM SIDING WITH JOE BIDEN ON THIS ONE RECORD SALES ARE GETTING WORSE BY THE HOUR I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT CHANGE…IT’S ALSO SOMETHING NOSTALGIC FOR ME TO BUY CD’S…I REMEMBER WHEN I GOT THE MARSHALL MATHER’S LP AND THIS WAS WHEN EM WAS THE HOTTEST RAPPER OUT…WHEN I RIPPED THE PLASTIC OFF AND POPPED IT IN MY CD PLAYER I WAS THE BEST FEELING EVER MAN…I WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT!

    • DANJA29

      Did they stop sellin’ CDs or somethin’? You can still buy ‘em, you just don’t cause you can download ‘em. You could “get that feelin’ back” if you’d go to the store and buy the shit.

  • Queens Boy

    OOPS! I MEANT DOWNLOADING MUSIC ONLINE…

  • Bobo D

    “The RIAA are responsible for many of the lawsuits against people who’ve downloaded music.”
    Really, whose the last person they sued, some teenage girl about 5 years ago for illegaly downloading music…either than that the only peer2peer network has been taken to court was napstar and the was only because musicians actually started the fight against them.
    What about Limewire, Kazaar and all those other sites, even Youtube in my eyes takes in illegal copyright actions.

    I’ve never downloaded any album which I can’t get in the record store. I mostly download anime soundtracks and thats because some are not distributed internationally but only for Japanese consumption.

  • http://www.prettypancakes.com amar

    i really don’t think a new administration means anything changing for the better for copyright laws. There’s just so many issues to worry about, we’re not there yet. Maybe if Bush didn’t fuck up everything, we’d have the luxury of worrying about this kinda stuff, but at this point, the amount of money ppl spend on music and the amount of income artists can receive just is not as important as keeping people in their homes, off the street and able to put food on the table.

    http://www.prettypancakes.com

  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com/ DJ Daddy Mack

    GREAT POST, MAN. WE SHOULD GET BACK TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHERE PEOPLE SAMPLED AND DID NOT HAVE TO PAY.

    BUT I AM OPPOSED TO PUTTING INDUSTRY SONGS ON MIXTAPES. DAT SHIT IS WACK AND UNCREATIVE. THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE ORIGINAL SHIT LIKE KID CUDI AND ALL OF DEM.

  • the r

    i’m sorry but the first comment is bullshit

    physical CD sales are down but music downloads are continually rising, which means that record companies are making LOTS of money. The record stores are the ones who are losing. Keep downloading or buy music, it’s your choice. Sooner or later they have to realise that technology will win.

  • http://pimpinpens.blogspot.com enzo

    i’m sorry but the first comment is bullshit

    physical CD sales are down but music downloads are continually rising, which means that record companies are making LOTS of money. The record stores are the ones who are losing. Keep downloading or buy music, it’s your choice. Sooner or later they have to realise that technology will win.

    ^^^^physical cd sales are down and digital downloads are up, but that is nowhere near enough the amount needed to offset the money being lost to physical. record companies aren’t making a lot of money buddy.

  • Dubb

    hell people use to record songs of the radio onto cassette back in the old days. Nothing much has changed except the ease of getting these songs. If they shut down the means of sharing the shut down the downloaders. People feel cheated because the music industry has overcharged for their product for so many years. Ever wonder why you can often buy a dvd much cheaper than a cd? Even if you went into a record store to buy something from the early 90′s it would cost you full price. I’m sorry but i think prices should decline over time. Just like they do with dvd’s. And the industry going after everyone for sharing music is insane. Go after those supplying the means to do so.Like kazzaa and limewire

  • http://XXL TheGodJustice

    What you’re saying is true but you forget the artists gotta eat too. Just like everyone else. I hope shit does go back to where people actually get up and buy albums. Hell, get it online if they have to. As long as it’s bought. If people can spend a grip on IPODS and shit, they can spend at least 10-20 dollars on a CD.