The Recording Industry Association of America's chief Hilary Rosen is to step down after five calamitous years shilling for the music distribution cartel.
In that period the pigopoly she represented squandered vast resources it could usefully have spent on creating alternative digital distribution channels on litigation against people who want to share music. Paradoxically, the reactionary Rosen is probably single-handedly the person most responsible for the now popular notion that we should get it all for free.
Rosen's vilest deed was not the crucifixion of Napster, but her determination to strangle Internet radio at birth. Rather than seeing it as a useful publicity medium, the RIAA fought long and dirty to burden stations with punitive royalties and administrative demands.
Three recent examples of the RIAA's benevolent works speak eloquently for Rosen's legacy. Exhibit one: five music labels - Universal, Sony, BMG, WEA and EMD, the parent of Virgin and EMI - agreed to pay between $15 and $40 million each to end a class action suit that alleged they'd colluded to fix the price of music CDs. (Claim here.)
Exhibit two: this week ISP Verizon was obliged to hand over personal details of a customer who the RIAA had identified as downloading MP3 files. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out today, this blows a Scud through the constitution by permitting "any copyright owner who claims infringement can force an ISP to reveal subscribers' identities merely by obtaining a subpoena from a district court clerk, without any judicial oversight."
In other words, in the best tradition of the Salem witchhunts or the McCarthyite lists, a mere accusation of wrongdoing can land you in the clink.
Exhibit three: the RIAA poisoned the file sharing networks with garbage, and since the turn of year has intensified its information warfare against IRC channels where people meet and exchange information. Full story to follow, but let this earlier article "I poisoned P2P networks for the RIAA" - whistleblower serve as a primer.
Some speculation on the boards today hopefully suggested that a change of executive could lead to more enlightened policies from the RIAA. But, why? When Stalinism has proved so effective, there's no need to alter course. ®