KEYSTONE COPS: Plod plays to gallery, laughs all round

The City of London police just swooped to arrest a ruthless, heartless, shameless, careless and luckless Troika of musical rights thieves. It is thought to be the biggest bust yet in the…um, Karaoke sector.

Actually, it was three old blokes adding tracks to Karaoke selections for fun with no commercial gain, but Diplodocus urbemium didn’t see it like that: ‘hundreds of albums have had their copyright uploaded by the men, leading to thousands and thousands of tracks being accessed illegally and depriving legitimate music companies of a significant amount of money’ trumpeted the boys in blue.

This is not quite a lie, just more of what we’ve come to expect from London-based cops: misrepresentation in order to curry favour with Munneeee. Three older wrinklies uploaded the tracks as a service to karaoke fans and – as Glyn Moody reports in Arstechnica – ‘music companies were actually deprived of little or nothing, since there were no legal copies that people could pay for’. The tracks were, so to speak, out of print.

Here’s what this case is really about.

I used to have clients in the Music Business; like the Press Gang, when the internet arrived their business model collapsed overnight. These days, they’re earning pennies from digital music where they used to pocket Pounds on vinyl and tape.

The business is making a point not dissimilar in attitude to that of the Diabolical Digger of Oz: “Everything we produce must be paid for in full so that my monopolies continue to work for me, not you”. It’s an attempt to put the genie back in the bottle in one of the few sectors where the web has turned out to be a boon for music fans.

But this action by the Mack Sennet Lads is only the start of the beginning: pop music worldwide is a gigantic business largely controlled from America. Ever since the start of the TPP/TTIP saga, ridiculously censorious clauses  have slipped into Law across the world. For example, you can be jailed for sharing files online even if no money was involved under the TPP proposals that were quite rightly mauled by national governments.

Under TTIP, the forces of reason continue to fight a rearguard action against restoring the suits’ monopoly; the EC has firmly rejected any criminal actions in the field…Congress, however, hasn’t. Just fancy that: last year, music companies lined the pockets of lobbied US legislators to the tune of just under $870 million.

And the buggers won’t go away: they’ll keep on pushing until the right EC commissioner decides to take a bung. And then the music will stop for all of us.

Next step: internet provision segmentation to favour large media outlets, government departments/agencies and central banks/multinational corporations. So fulfilling Harry Truman’s observation in spades: “A lie will get round the world before the Truth has its pants on”.

This issue is called ‘Net neutrality’. I’ve been banging on about it since 2007. Ask your MP about it….or read this piece from yesterday about US regulators gumming the Dark Forces to death.

Last night at The Slog: The tragic case of the Osborne Boy