“He who rejects change is the architect of decay”.
Ever heard of Joel Tenenbaum? Well I hadn’t really paid any attention to that name until today, and more precisely until I read this article from The Guardian – “How it feels to be sued for $4.5m“. I have always known thousands in the states had been sued for absurd sums for sharing music, everyone’s aware of the RIAA’s sissy-fits, but to read such a testimonial set me aback some. Do read it: it was written by Joel himself, and weather you’re with him or against him, it won’t leave you indifferent to his cause.
I don’t want to go into the details of his story because it is all written marvelously well in that article. What I’ll say is this: Joel is one of the tens of thousands of people who have got their lives crushed just for sharing music. Joel is not the compulsive file-sharer type who detains tera bytes upon tera bytes of music storages on dozens of 7200 rpm, RAID intertwined hard-drives, he’s just one in 50 million file-sharers who unluckily won the RIAA lottery. His battle started off small, just in for a couple of thousand of dollars. Now he is in for millions because he fought back.
He finally made it to the trial which started yesterday (most people cave in before reaching that point). Joel’s story struck a chord in many music lovers’ hearts, and he is now backed-up by thousands from all over the world. He has got his proper “Joel Fights Back” twitter account (@joelfightsback), twitter feed (#jfb) and website.
The Guardian’s article holds ten pages full of comments, but the very first one made my day. It was written by a nut who hammers Joel by invoking the “you just shouldn’t steal from people more creative than you. You deserve what’s coming at you” speech. I can take a step back like any other and realize there are laws for a reason, that these laws must be reinforced to maintain order. I am not defending Joel 100% just because it’s easy and comforting to be on the martyr’s side, engaging resistance against corporate fat cats, I’m on Joel’s side because if we succumb to absurdity, we are headed straight for a brick wall, the likes of which mankind has a tendency to bang its head against over and over again.
For such trials to be enacted in this day and age is absurd for the simple reason that there is no balance whatsoever between technological advancements and copyright law anymore. The later has, since its most primitive founding, been intimately linked to the former. They both go hand in hand, and when one changes, the other follows briefly after. The recording industry caved in on many accounts in the past because of ever-evolving music distribution mediums, yet now, the RIAA still won’t accept the change p2p brought to their consumers’ consumption habits. And why are they so aggressive? Because of scalability. Never have the paper-rolls, the radio, the cassette-tapes and so on scaled such a gap between consumers and content owners. So members of the RIAA have litterally been shittin’ their pants these two past decades. Their solution: to frantically sue customers at random for completely absurd sums of money for no reason other than fathering fear and making up for decreasing profits. I would like to repeat myself here: it is only to engender fear and make money that the RIAA is suing. There is no long-tail humanitarian purpose here, there is no will whatsoever to educate the masses, there is no greater master-plan behind all this grief – just fear and money.
We don’t burn people on stakes anymore just because they refuse to believe in the virgin Mary. Same should apply to file sharing and music in 2009. But apparently, that is still far from being the case.
Accepting change is the key to healthy evolution. The first step would be for major labels to admit their wrongs in terms of serving musical garbage to us all these past 10 years. Economic instability, growing gaming industry, DVDs and Internet- related-entertainment didn’t help them one bit in getting back that entrepreneurial spirit they lost so long ago. Add to that p2p networks, and it all seems so logical that the RIAA affiliates are going down the drain, taking 15% decreasing market blows every year or so.
That is just the ways things have changed, and those who go against what has changed, although it is completely beyond their power to do anything about that change, are fools, plain and simple.
Good Luck Joel. You have my total support.