IFPI Board Member Threatens University Lecturer Over RIAA Criticism

Andrew Dubber is the Degree Leader for Music Industries at UCE Birmingham, in the UK. His blog has carried some criticism of the RIAA in the past, just as many sites do these days. But when Paul Birch of the IFPI, BPI and Revolver Records read some anti-RIAA comments, it resulted in an amazing exchange of emails between him and Mr Dubber. We have them here.

Article reproduced in full with permission from Andrew Dubber

First a little introduction to Andrew. From his site, NewMusicStrategies.

My name’s Andrew Dubber. I’m the Degree Leader for Music Industries at UCE Birmingham, UK. I’m a senior lecturer and researcher with a particular interest in online music, radio and new media technology.

Originally from the city of Auckland, New Zealand, I’ve been based in the UK these past two and a half years.

My background is in both radio and the music industry, and I’ve written numerous articles, book chapters, and conference presentations about these sorts of new strategies and technologies in both of those sectors.

In the context of a blog about the online music world, I thought you might be interested in an email exchange I’ve had this evening with a board member of both the IFPI and the BPI.

I’ve had an email conversation with Paul Birch of Revolver Records this evening. Rather than comment on it, I’ll just post it here for your information, in full and unedited, with his permission.

_______________________

Andrew

Looking at your site I do think allowing indiscriminate criticism of the RIAA is inappropriate for a Government funded institution.

Paul

_______________________

Hi Paul,

You might be right, but I’m not a government funded institution, and nor do I consider my criticism of the RIAA indiscriminate.

However, if you find something that’s factually incorrect, I’d be more than happy to amend it.

Thanks for checking out the site.

Cheers,

Andrew

_______________________

Let’s talk about it when we next meet-up, as I don’t intend to write a thesis on the subject.

However, I stand by my assertion.

Regards

Paul

_______________________

Fair enough. But if you do happen to stumble across something that you have a particular problem with, if you could point it out to me, that would be most helpful.

Look forward to catching up.

_______________________

Andrew, Well I am in regular contact with the RIAA and both they and the IFPI are subject to hate mail as a consequence of hubcap, our litigation against consumers for illegally downloading our copyrights.

This manifests itself into individual members of our RIAA management being singled-out for malicious statements and blogs on the internet. As an example you probably saw the case earlier in the week of a Chinese Laundry in the United States being sued for $54M for loosing a pair of trousers, belonging to a lawyer. If you take a look at the criticism on your blog of the RIAA by one of the contributors, they are engaging in a similar malicious prosecution in the US courts but go further and make a number of assertions through your blog that gives credibility to illegal downloading.

I am not concerned that people decide to take out law-suits against our organisations; we have the resources to deal with that. What does concern me however is the repeating of malicious falsehoods that occur in a number of internet blog, and are re-reported as having validity contribute widely to the assertion that right is on the side of wrong-doing.

You might argue that your professional blog is your opinion alone, however you are interwoven into the views and policy of the University of Central England and I think that puts you in an exposed positon Andrew.

It might not be nice to be sued by the RIAA and potentially put in a position of being made bankrupt; neither is issuing redundancy notices to hard working staff. People don’t have to download; they do however have to work. Consumers that enjoy music have a lot of options and enjoying it free on the radio is at least one of them, with last FM and You Tube there is near on demand service free at the point of use. But stealing isn’t clever, but presumably most people don’t really wish to steal, and only share because it is so easy and seems harmless/victimless. If people need to affirmatively hide their activities, then there is an understanding of wrongdoing. I feel that your blog underpins the misuse of our copyright and attacks our trade associations.

There are very serious allegations made in this anti-RIAA link on your blog, and I don’t think its appropriate that you link to them.

Paul
_______________________

2 questions, then please Paul:

1) Which link?
2) Would you be willing for me to post this email to the blog to present a counterbalance to the anti-RIAA position?
_______________________

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/06/06/

riaa-extortion-and-conspiracy-in-the-same-sentence

Above is the link, I am not sure how I navigated to it from your blog.

I am willing for you to publicise anything I say here, but I think that what is more desirable is to take down links from your site that promote this hatred of the recording Industry, because the assumption is that by linking to them that you support the extreme view heralded. That might be unfair to you by the way as you may or may not hold those views. I can only seek to reason with those views but my argument about biting the hand that feeds it is I feel valid. I respect everyone’s right to dissent but I am anxious that Individual managers within our trade association have the right not to be publicly hounded.

Best wishes

Paul
_______________________

I remember that article. I can see how it would be seen as undesirable PR for the RIAA, but I’m not at all convinced it either represents an extreme view or promotes the hounding of individual managers represented by the recording industry association.

In fact, from my time online reading articles about the music industry, I would say it’s about par for the course. Most independent commentators take the position that the suing of individuals by the RIAA has been a public relations disaster, and that rather than deter illegal activity, they have simply turned the record-buying public against them. If someone is taking a countersuit against the organisation, I’m afraid that’s comment-worthy. As it happens, I think I remember hearing that the case was thrown out, but I’d have to check the facts.

The way I see it is this: what I’m linking to is opinion about a news story. It’s genuine news and it’s legitimate opinion. You may not agree, but I don’t see anything there that warrants a take-down notice.

I would never endorse hate speech or the encouragement of the victimisation of any individual no matter what their job. That link doesn’t even come close to either of those things.

More importantly, as someone who comments about the industry, only linking to items that echo the official position of the major label organisations would pretty much make my site valueless to its readers.

Download Squad, the source of that article, is pretty much uniformly interesting, relevant and linkworthy. I don’t think this was an exception.

But I think it’s important that both sides are put, so I’ll post this email exchange up on the site. If there’s anything else you’d like to say on this, then pop it in a reply to this email, and I’ll leave it at that.

I think it’s great that you’re willing to have this discussion in public. Much appreciated.

_______________________

Andrew

It expresses opinion, it’s not factual. If you persist then I shall make a formal complaint to the University.

Your choice.

Paul

_______________________

The End. Always good to end on a threat, RIAA-style….

The full post and comments can be found here.

Andrew has also kindly given every TorrentFreak reader the chance to download his eBook, The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online.

UPDATE:Seems like Andrew Dubber’s webhost (UKHost4U) has suspended his site. It’s unclear at this stage exactly why.
UPDATE2:Andrew’s site is now operational but clarification on the reason for the take-down is still being sought.

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