Music piracy around the world costs the United States $12.5 billion a year, or at least this is what the industry is saying. Furthermore, the Institute for Policy Innovation claims that copyright infringement is taking more than 71.000 jobs away. East Bay Ray, Dead Kennedys’ guitarist, addressed this issue in a debate with Anita Rivas – a music industry lawyer and Chico State’s adviser.
According to the punk legend, technology companies such as Google, Pandora, and MTV abuse and persecute musicians’ work, an opinion expressed by the band back in 1985, when they’ve released a track called “MTV – Get off the air”.
East Ray Bay goes on to compare tech companies and recording artists with pimps and prostitutes.
“Pimps are not cool, especially when they don’t pay their hookers,” he said to the delight of the audience.
The artist also pointed out a vital issue (one that the industries are not ready to accept) – that there’s a huge difference between sharing a CD with your friends or family and the mass-production of someone’s work to make money.
“The difference is that we do all the work and they get all the money,” he said.
Moreover, the number of independent artists have been decreasing since 2002 (45%), he continued.
“It’s confusing. You want to get your music to people, but you don’t know how to do it so that it is fair to everyone,” he said.
“I hope that we will all be able to figure it out.”
As for tech companies, their blame is that of putting up together copyrighted content, while having the benefits of paid advertisement, the artist said. An even bigger problem is the 1998’s Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act; its amendments protect hosting companies from being held accountable for copyrighted works, if the infringement is done by a customer and not the company itself, he continued. Moreover, East Bay Ray believes that tech companies are trying to make creative content free and nullify any copyright law that exists, with Google being the worst of them.
“Google likes to pretend like they are our friends,” Rivas said.
The punk star also targeted Spotify by calling it corrupt.
Lina Falk, a Swedish foreign exchange student working with the KCSC radio and SOTA Productions, disagrees:
“How we view Spotify and how it is used in Sweden is that people really pay for the service,” she said.
“The situation is what it is, and you cannot just rewind it,” Falk concluded.
As usual, this debate could have continued forever, but it stopped at some point with standing ovations and follow-up questions.