Freedom Rock

Friday, January 20, 2012


This is a true David and Goliath story . . . and don’t forget, David was a songwriter. With all the uproar and misinformation being circulated I thought, as a working songwriter (yes, it’s my real job), I would weigh in on the issue.

For me, the Internet has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because now people all over the world can hear my music, and a curse because now people all over the world can hear my music . . . for FREE. There is already a law in place that allows the Justice Department to shut down US sites that illegally traffic in copyrighted material . . . it’s called the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and I worked to get that Bill passed through Congress in 1998. If the U.S. has such a law to limit the illegal “Downlooting” of copyrighted material, why shouldn’t foreign sites be held to the same laws?

There has been a lot of “The Sky Is Falling” misinformation circulating on the Web. This information is coming from large corporations like Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Ted TV. Google makes a huge percentage of its profits from illegal sites, so they don't want them to be shut down. These bills would have impacted Google's ability to get for free, content that they get paid advertising dollars to "locate," or use in their social network. I have yet to see any songwriter get paid money from Google, Wikipedia or any of the other large conglomerates who make Billions in advertising dollars on the backs of the creators, who get paid in micro-pennies. . . talk about the 1%!

The eighth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Steal is a commandment, not a suggestion. Every religion has a form of this. I wouldn’t think of walking onto a Porsche car lot and “sharing” the newest 911 Turbo. After all, the Porsche Company is so rich, they wouldn’t miss one. Or, walking into an Apple store and “sharing” their I-Pad 2, MacPro, the new MacBook Air or even an I-Pod for that matter . . . Apple, Inc. has so much money, they wouldn’t even miss it. No, I don’t do it because it's stealing. Just like I don’t want people to steal my tangible property, I don’t want them to steal my intellectual property either. I didn’t start out as a rich songwriter, and I am not rich now, but I did sacrifice a lot to get where I am. For decades, I worked hard at two jobs, as a single Mom, raising a daughter who ate peanut butter and jelly everyday of her life till she graduated from high school (insert violins here).

It’s still surprisingly easy to set up a site that offers illegal content and profit from it from advertising and subscriptions or sales. And when such sites are operated overseas, they are effectively impossible for copyright holders to reach through DMCA takedowns or an ordinary copyright infringement lawsuit, yet such services are available to anyone in the US with an internet connection. SOPA and PIPA would have given the Attorney General and copyright holders more effective remedies designed to cut off the money flowing to these types of rogue websites.

And how would free speech in the U.S. be affected by shutting down websites in Russia or China who traffic in illegal activity? It wouldn’t!  And how would it heIp songwriters get paid their rightful royalties? I guess we’ll never know since SOPA and PIPA have been postponed indefinitely.

In this fight of David and Goliath . . . looks like Goliath won this round! What a truly sad day for all copyright holders indeed.