Congress Hates Independent Music

Image of how the independent music industry should feel about the Bush administration courtesy of Immortal Technique's Revolutionary Vol. 2 album cover. 

No doubt all you independent musicians out there are investing titanic chunks of time to getting Obama elected. You’re endorsing him at shows, putting bumper stickers on the tour bus, and, maybe, just maybe, donating a fraction of your discretionary booze and blow money to the effort. Usually I would mock you (since your hapless artistic plight is utterly disconnected to the Washington establishment anyway), but it turns out your reflexive hearts might be in the right place this time.

Unless you peruse music industry and techie sites, or scour the NY Times “Bits” blog, then you might not know that just yesterday President Bush signed the characteristically surreptitiously titled Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act. Why is this good news for Obama supporters? Simple – because this ludicrous new legislation “Directs the President to appoint an Intellectual Property Enforcement coordinator who shall…coordinate the development, and assist in the implementation, of the Joint Strategic Plan against counterfeiting and piracy by such advisory committee.”

Interpretation: The President of the United States from here on in shall appoint a cabinet member who teams with despicable multimedia conglomerates to decide which teenagers and their parents get sued for downloading Coldplay songs. I dare someone (who doesn’t work for, record for, or own a major record label) to argue that they’d rather have Flinstone McCain making that selection than Barack Obama (even though they both voted in support of this).

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which so far this year spent more than $3 million lobbying congress, did a spectacular job of escorting this tyrannical legislation through both the House and Senate (it was passed unanimously in the latter this past month). This means one or both of two things: either our elected representatives give such a small shit about independent artists that they didn’t notice this act’s negligence to protect them, or their lips are so swollen around RIAA members that they’ll sign whatever dotted lines are put before them.   

In a statement to CNET, Public Knowledge Communications Director Art Brodsky summarized the situation precisely: "It would've been nice to have something to benefit the public and artists instead of big media companies.” Expect more on this in the near-future, or at least after the election when reporters (including myself) finally get to comb through the stacks of truly repugnant legislation that snuck by while we were all watching McCain and Obama hurl mud pies at one another.  


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