Music, industry and students - the saddest clash

In a lot of my posts for magazine, in conversations with friends and artists around the world, the theme of the “content industry” vs. students has become pretty evident. Students are the targets of corporate and government surveillance for several reasons. Some of the more obvious are:

 

Young people, many away from their parents or at least developing youth-centered peer groups away from adult control, have historically been the objects of broad social anxiety and moral panics.

Young people in college are still attached to an institution which to some extent keeps track of them and has records of some of their behavior.

 

This has led to the demand for colleges to exercise further surveillance and control over students. I noticed it when the Immigration “services” was pressuring professors to report on the suspected immigration status of their students. It’s clearly not colleges’ jobs to be cops, INS agents, etc, and beyond that, taking on that role works directly against the actual project of education. But those who want to track and control especially the youth can’t resist. More recently, the RIAA and MPAA have focused on college students as people to blame for the decline of the corporate music industry. I wrote a few months ago about their attempts to manipulate federal funding for education to enhance the corporate position. But that was just the latest in a long string of actions by various groups to intimidate college students.

Now, p2pnet has compiled some of that history. It’s pretty fascinating.

History of RIAA battle with college students

has put together a fascinating, commenced February 28, 2007. The campaign is described as one to ‘force “consumers” to buy what they’re told to buy — corporate “content,” as the Big 4 call their formulaic outpourings.’ In a scathing indictment not only of the major record labels, but of those schools, administrators, and educators who have yet to take a stand against it, Jon Newton reviews a number of landmark moments in the 11-month old ‘reign of terror’. They include the announcement of the bizarre ‘early settlement’ sale, the sudden withdrawal of a case in which a 17 year old Texas high school student had been during school hours to attend a deposition the very next day during his taking of a standardized test, for the university to fight back when and if attacked, and the differing reactions by other schools.

Higher education funding controlled by RIAA/MPAA?

Glory be, the big copyright owners have found yet another way to threaten students’ access to education — this time by going for the biggest support of higher education — federal funding.

On Nov 22 the House Education and Labor Committee approved H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act. The name sounds like something everyone can support — but the devil is truly in the details. Page 411 of this 747-page bill is “Section 494(A): CAMPUS-BASED DIGITAL THEFT PREVENTION” wherein the bill’s meaning takes a serious detour from its title.

To prevent college students from illegally accessing copyrighted material, the section says all schools shall (when you see the word “shall” in a law, it’s a requirement, not a suggestion): 1) Have “a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property” and 2) Have “a plan to explore technology based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.”

The craziest thing about this is that noncompliant schools would lose all their federal funding, for all their students. No more Pell Grants. No more federal financial aid. No more student loans. This is not just draconian punishment for students who break the law, this punishes all students at that institution even if they did nothing! Beyond that, both requirements actually work against the point of the bill itself –implementation would likely raise school fees. If a school requires students to sign up with an “alternative system,” this means (for now) a for-profit company. Who pays for the subscription?

And if a school has to use filtering software, who’s going to pay for that? If schools have to prove compliance, they will have to make it mandatory — folding it into school fees is the simplest way. How does that contribute to “Affordability?” There’s no good reason for fee hikes because the requirements could never solve the “problem.” Let’s back up: what’s the problem and why are schools being forced to solve it? If the problem is illegal (and there is legal) downloading and uploading and its effect on the industry, why are colleges being required to stop it? The RIAA and the MPAA often state that college networks are major sites of infringement — but their own numbers don’t back that up.

The MPAA’s own estimation is that 18.4-percent of copyright infringers overall are college students, who are responsible for 44-percent of lost revenue from copyright infringement. Calculating “lost revenue” is tricky — how to calculate what would have been paid if someone hadn’t downloaded a song? What if it made them buy an album, or merchandise? What if downloading was easier than ripping a paid-for CD, LP or cassette? But sticking with the MPAA’s semi-bogus numbers, educational technology nonprofit Educausen that “since less than 20-percent of college students live on campus and use the residence hall networks, this means that less than 4-percent of the infringers are using campus networks, and they are responsible for less than 9-percent of the losses.

Over 91-percent of the claimed losses are on commercial networks.” Get that: 4 out of every 100 infringers (even trusting the industry assessment of infringement, which usually is not too carefully defined) are on college networks. And yet this is so important that Congress will subvert federal education funding? Further evidence of this entertainment industry power-grab is described in a letter against Section 494(A) signed by the President of Stanford University, the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, the Vice President of Yale and the President of Penn State, which describes how representatives of the entertainment industry would be the ones to provide the data identifying which schools are “violators.”

Punishment would be based on these numbers, which would put the Secretary of Education basically under the direction of the entertainment industry! Equally cheesy is the requirement that schools endorse a particular music service. Since they would have to prove compliance in order to keep federal funding, what would be easiest is to fold the cost of membership to something like Napster or Ruckus into everyone’s school fees. All these companies are limited: they may not have the music you want, or their files (like Napster’s) are crippled with digital rights management software (DRM) so the files can’t by played on iPods.

So you might be paying for a service that isn’t guaranteed to have music you want or files you can even play. In fact, Educause points out that many universities have already considered working with existing companies only to reconsider based on complaints from their students. If the industry can’t come up with a music service students want, why should Congress require state universities to subsidize the current failures? And if they do use filtering software to monitor activity on college networks, how are those filters going to separate out all the legal activity from the illegal activity? College networks are obviously the site of many educational uses of all kinds of files, how will the filters know when the use is educational?

How will students they allow access to public domain works? And what does filtering software — essentially a way to tracking what you do online — mean for students’ privacy rights? These issues are too important to be packed into a few lines in an educational funding bill. This embarrassing example of lawmaking corrupted by corporate interest is sponsored by the Democratic Representatives George Miller (CA), and Ruben Hinojosa (TX), reviving a version Democrat Harry Reid put forth this summer. That was beat back in the Senate, only to pop up, zombie-like, in mid-November at the last minute: introduced to the House Committee on the Friday of a 3-day weekend to be discussed the following Wednesday.

Not a lot of time for people who care about this stuff to organize and get the word out to their representatives! DC-based organization working to further the public interest in access to knowledge, points out: “Democrats promised more transparent government and less kowtowing to special interests like the content industries. Actions like this indicate that it may be time to refresh their memories.” We can’t let higher education become the bullyboys of the entertainment industry — education has to come first. If the federal government won’t stand up for education on its own, we have to remind them?


Here you can watch new movies trailer and read all new movies reviews.


Halloween party

Big ups to Surya Dub in San Fran, here in Boston we are gearing up for a fun Halloween party of our own at Beat Research with DJ RNDM who has been perfecting his turtable video scratching/mixing techniques and RM’s own amazing DJ C who will be in town from Chicago.


Surya dub wins Best Club Night in SF! Thanks to all!

Wow. So Kid K and I slogged into San Francisco across the Bay Bridge to the SFWeekly Music Awards Ceremony because we had been nominated. We got there around 9pm at this swank joint that looks like a 19th-century theater having been converted into a club, but chandeliers, carvings, and stained-glass portraits of old white men with muttonchop whiskers still remained. The crowd was mostly rock-y and sf-fashion-y and media-y except for various people I vaguely recognized as nominees for “best hip-hop act” (like the Federation and such.. not everyone was there but I saw a dude in a splended white Filthy Dripped blazer with painting all over it and a majestic fade). They announced the awards for our category while Maneesh the Twista was still looking for parking and Kush Arora hadn’t arrived yet…

And WE WON! Kid K, Sitar (who does the publicity and a lot of the foot work for the party) and I found our way to the stage and dazedly said a few things to a crowd who were mostly interested in drinking and chatting to themselves, and walked off the stage with a funny little statuette of a little man playing the guitar, so there we are. BEST CLUB NIGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO - SURYA DUB.

Thank you to everyone who voted! The other nominees were mostly long-running nights in bigger venues, but clearly they didn’t have fans as energetic and full of love as we do! You all rock! (Something everyone can see for themselves October 27th - next Saturday - when we throw down with Jason Mundo, DJ Tomas and the almighty ZULU - plus guest VJ Zebbler)


Mega-Bass-Mayhem In The Chi’: Bouncement!

It’s on tonight:

Mashit presents: BOUNCEMENT

featuring super dirty bass riddims by

MAGA BO (Soot Records, Rio de Janeiro)

MURDERBOT (Dead Homies, Kansas City)

DJ C (Mashit, Boston)

ZEBO (Can I Kick It)

and host MC: ZULU (Riddim Killah)

Be our Myspace friend

Rio de Janeiro’s Maga Bo heads up this high-grade booty-beats-from-the-streets celebration. Maga Bo, also a radio DJ and community music instructor, taps into the baile funk culture but reworks the crude beats on the laptop in his hybrid sets. We’re thrilled to have him coming through, to say the least. Boston’s DJ C, Kansas City’s Murderbot, Panama’s MC Zulu and Chicago’s own DJ Zebo are all on the bill. MC Zulu, a Chicagoan with Panamanian/Jamaican roots, hosts the whole shindig, and you’d be a damn fool to miss it.


Introducing the new Mashit.com

’ve re-launched Mashit.com, now in a more blogified format for digital DJ era. Over the next few months the site will continue to evolve featuring a series free mashups and DJ mix downloads (The first of which are now online), interviews with and exclusive tracks by some of our favorite artists, music and DJ gear reviews, a download store, and lots more bounce-mixology.


Astrology moon sign CHART

The Astrology moon sign chart represents our uniqueness we inherit from our parents or forefathers. Basically the moon sign depends upon the date, month and year of birth. As every individual of different days or months have different zodiac signs so their personality traits, uniqueness varies according to their zodiac sign.
The sign of the zodiac where the moon was at the moment of our birth is our moon sign. The characteristics of that sign will vary the moon's face. When the moon will be in exact sign of the zodiac. The moon rules our emotions. When people start learning about their astrology moon sign chart then they got to know about their feelings.
The moon is one of the most important planets in the zodiac which have a huge impact on person’s individuality and his personality, as it influences on our life. People of almost every age group believe in stars and their zodiac sign. There are twelve zodiac sign and every sign has its equal importance and it equally impacts on an individual’s life. There are thousands of astrological charts on the internet which is regularly access by people. They also read about their Astrology moon sign chart in newspapers as well. 


Quick shout from Jamaica

Wrapping up all the work I’ve been doing for the Students Expressing Truth Foundation, with their awesome Jamaican Prison Radio project, recording studio, and computer labs. It’s been inspiring and educational, as well as occasionally frustrating. One thing it hasn’t been, is scary. At least not directly. One thing about volunteering in a prison, the inmates are happy to see you, for the most part. Being a woman in the men’s prisons means occasionally rather too happy, but on the whole your presence is mostly positive.

So nearly all the time spent inside has been amazing. So many really talented people there, and also so many folks who are learning and working and really seem to be transforming themselves in amazing ways. Kudos to the hard work of the SET members (the inmate-driven part), the SET Foundation (the outside part) and the Department of Correctional Services for recognizing the potential of the project.

It’s great to see all the ways music and music-making is important to people that is totally irrelevant to the concerns of the “industry.” Having been embedded in the legal world that spends a lot more time being concerned with the working of business and large institutions than with fostering people’s creativity and all the related benefits of having it fostered… it’s nice to just get to it.

There is also a real hunger for knowledge of legal issues in copyright. What’s interesting (intellectual) and also frustrating is how little the law has to offer them. Because the law doesn’t give them much power. In itself, it doesn’t give them resources to fight legal battles. Avoiding legal battles while still having a reasonable amount of artistic freedom and room to maneuver (creatively) is the real goal. Not winning legal battles.

Jah Cure’s recent release (he was affiliated with SET and recorded much of his in-prison music in the computer lab -even shot some of the video for Reflections in the SET lab!- has generated some interest in the idea of prisoners making music. But there isn’t a lot of focus yet on how to support the real positives of the program. No SET member who ahs been released has come back into the prison system, a 0% recidivism rate that is amazing, and that suggests something about the way that the program has helped transform inmates and their sense of connection to each other and the world. Music is a natural medium, and music-making is a natural practice for fostering those kinds of transformation and connections.