Actually is was not the RIAA that came up with this gem, it certainly came from their Canadian counterpart the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). If everyone is downloading illegal music, so the story goes, lets tax everyone $5 a month! In simple terms, everyone that has Internet access would now have an additional item on their monthly statement, a $5 piracy charge. Just like the Telco’s and Utilities love to add incomprehensible line items in the monthly bill, the net result will likely be a line item that reads ‘Privacy Assurance Plan’, and of course it will have nothing to do with your privacy.

Today brought another great idea from California (the land of fruits and nuts). Assemblyman Charles Calderon thinks that legally downloaded music and movies should also be taxed. One can only asume that Mr. Calderon is not going to be running for office again.

This is an asinine idea! A couple of weeks ago I found myself behind the 8-ball, a phone interview had been arraigned, the problem was that shipping DVD’s from Poland to Canada was proving more time consuming than had been considered. The solution was to transfer the music over the internet. So the question is, should I pay the tax? I am not asking for the item for monetary gain, I am a reviewer.

Bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have the solution. Give it away free, if you like the music, you will buy it. And even if you don’t like it, at least you have heard it.

As Forest Gump says ‘Stupid is, as stupid does’.

I find it embarrassing having to talk to my friends in other parts of the world. I’m the guy that is the ‘big time’ reviewer, and I have to deal with idiocy like this?

The RIAA’s of the world need to get their acts together. And my advice is to start building the Ark! There are a number of interesting lawsuits wending their way through the court systems. The RIAA has issued over 20,000 threats. And many people have caved in, the going rate is $3000, and you send a letter to the RIAA promising that you will not do it again.

I have followed this story for a long time, the RIAA, and their Canadian cousins seem very reticent to talk about this. The question I, and many others have is “What do you actually do for the artist”? And maybe the really big question, the one that I have never seen answered, “so how much of the $3000 settlement makes it to the musician?” I am not the first to ask this question, and I am sure that I will not be the last. They certainly don’t want to talk to me, and they seem reticent to discuss this in public.

The really important lawsuit is about to enter the ‘discovery’ phase, for once, the RIAA is going to have to explain the workings of their less than legal partners MediaSentry. Several states have already declared their operation illegal, I can’t wait to see what happens in court.

Simon Barrett

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