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The Rapacious RIAA Is Not The Answer To Online Piracy
I've taken a fair amount of flak on various Hubs including Is Demonoid A DOJ Trap for my defense of intellectual rights and the responsibility to pay the creator of the work a fair compensation for the use and enjoyment of the work. After all, as the author of a bestseller translated into 14 languages to date and in third printing in some countries, I am vividly aware that at some sporadic times my book is one of the top downloads from rapidshare.com. Each and every one of those downloads earn me absolutely zero. I only make about a buck every time one of my books is sold (for around $20 a pop), as the rest is swallowed up in the endless chain of jobbers, retailers, wholesalers and other rapacious embezzlers such as my despicable scumbag UK publisher (not my really nice North American publisher) who manages in every quarterly reporting period for the past two years to mysteriously "misplace" my royalty check.
But at least I get a buck! That's better than nothing! I worked for months on that manuscript, researched it extensively, went through various rewrites and restructurings... why should I just give that away? The fallacious arguments of the freeload download crowd that they have some sort of "mystical right" to freely enjoy my work as well as anyone else's who creates a media project are completely ridiculous. A Hollywood movie can cost nearly $200 million to produce, which is about the cost of the development of a new CPU. Since I can readily download any major motion picture the same day of its release at no cost, does that mean that Intel or AMD should donate to me the CPU to run the computer it will be played on as well? By that broken logic, I should also be entitled to whatever Rolex, Ferrari, or Gulfstream Jet I fancy as what really is the difference between writing down words, or music, or making a movie as to manufacturing a consumer object? Gimme everything! Free! I'm entitled to it by the Holy Law Of Piracy!
Nope. A pirate is a pirate is a pirate, and to that end, I pray that the Swedish courts sentence The Pirate Bay's Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundstrom to eternity on a chain gang breaking frosty rocks with 20 pound sledgehammers 50 miles north of Jokkmokk in their skivvies. However, that is not going to stop piracy, as there are countless Gottfrid Svartholm Wargs, Peter Sundes, Fredrik Neijs, and Carl Lundstroms out there ready to set up some server somewhere in some remote corner of the world to serve up the paths to the torrents of your choice. Of course with absolutely no compensation to the copyright holder.
Having said all that, I do not in any way, shape or form, agree with or condone the current enforcement efforts against copyright pirates. First of all, if we tried to jail every single person who at one time or another has downloaded a single work without duly compensating the copyright holder, there would be very few people on the outside to be the jailers and bring the meals. Furthermore, to have a handful of show trials where some doe-eyed teenager is forced to submit to a financial judgement in excess of the cost of a new home is patently ridiculous. It just goes to demonstrate that the management of the various rights enforcing bodies couldn't find a clue or their rectums with both hands, a map, and a flashlight.
In my long dormant blog, I once wrote:
The RIAA is an embarrassment to humanity, a rapacious assemblage of voracious philistines who are this century’s equivalent to the medieval tax collectors who tossed the poor to die in debtor’s prisons. Under the guise of “defending artists’ rights” the RIAA actually violates every imaginable constitutional right by engaging in subterfuge, spying, harassment, and then viciously forced impoverishment of children and seniors whose only crime is that they wanted to listen to some music.
I completely stand by that statement. The RIAA is a bunch of crazed bullies who are trying to kill a fly with a Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun.
Since I am firm in my belief that the creators of any work have complete and full rights to earn financial compensation from their creation, and furthermore if their creation meets with widespread popular acceptance and enjoyment, then by everything that is correct and legitimate, that compensation should be measured by significant amounts of currency: it should be lots of money. Properly invested $25 million will yield over $750,000 in interest income without touching the principal. That’s enough to pay the mortgage on a $5 million dollar house and buy a new Rolls Royce every year, while still having more than enough left over for dinners, clothes, and endless amounts of bling. Again, without diminishing the principal amount by one cent.
I would be more than satisfied in having that amount as my yearly personal income. I'm not aware of too many people on this planet that wouldn't think that's enough... with the exception of the members of the music industry.
If you examine the net worth of the three most popular rappers you will find that it is well above the total of one billion dollars. Jay-Z is first on the list with a net worth of $547 million. 50 Cent is number two (I think his music is "number two" as well in a specifically scathological sense, but I'm not discussing musical criticism here) on this rarefied list with $440 million. Diddy (or whatever the hell he's calling himself this week) rounds out this List Of Shame with $358 million.
There you have it. Over one billion dollars for three thugs who would be holding up 7-11s if it wasn't for the music industry. No, that is not a racial statement. Just read interviews with any of them and make your own determination if you think that they are qualified, intelligent, reliable, confidence-inspiring, and emotionally balanced enough to have you hire any one of them to be a janitor in your business.
The music (and media) industry as a whole is a mega billion dollar industry which compensates its top stars on the same irrational, unrealistic, and outright profligate scale as major league sports. There is nothing that anyone on this planet can do that merits a net worth of half a billion dollars, let alone catching a ball or grunting lurid lyrics about shooting cops and doin' ho's. That's why especially in these times when the global economy is collapsing around us, it is time to strictly limit the compensation to these spoiled rotten ultrarich doughheads. This will not only free up endless billions to equitably compensate the vast number of wonderfully creative individuals in all media who now slave away in near-poverty (like ME), but it will bring relevance and responsibility back to an industry which has been lost in an avalanche of cash to the point where it will be able to relate to their consumers again. After all, I don't know of too many people in my town who spend their Saturday afternoons reclining on their Bentleys, adorned with a couple of million dollars of gaudy diamond baubles, sipping Cristal and tossing $100 bills around while pouting half naked supermodels pose around them. Real life? Remember what that's like?
So what is the solution? Again from my earlier blog:
The basis for the “new” music industry is ridiculously simple. The record companies stop pressing CDs and release everything electronically, immediately slashing their massive manufacturing, logistics and shipping expenditures. When was the last time you went into a record store anyway, even if you could find one? All releases are fully DRM free and are fully cost free to boot. The sound you just heard was the thud of music execs falling off their Herman Miller Geiger Foray Chairs. So how can the music industry sustain itself? Easy. Touring.
Is anyone with a straight face trying to defend the position that when an artist sells out a 6 month tour of huge arenas at $250 a seat it all gets eaten up by roadie lunches and diesel for the tour bus? Artists tour anyway, so why isn’t that enough? Madison Square Gardens is barely a medium size venue and it seats 20,000. Sell the place out at an average of $125 a seat and you’ve just pulled in two and a half mil. Do that 100 times a year across North America and it’s $250 mil. Chop it in half to cover venue, transportation, promotion and roadie lunches: $125 mil a year per major artist.
And you want $17.95 for a nickel’s worth of pressed plastic too? You greedy RIAA bastards. Go dedicate your boundless energy to feeding starving children in Africa instead of ravaging and pillaging innocent citizens, you repugnant, loathsome scourge from Hell.