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Punk legend shares insight on file-sharing

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Published 2012-12-14T08:00:00Z”/>


Nicole Gerspacher

Global music piracy loses the United States economy $12.5 billion every year.

That totals 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings lost and $422 million in federal tax revenues lost, according to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Dead Kennedys guitarist and punk legend East Bay Ray visited Chico State Thursday to address what he considers to be misuse of music.

Anita Rivas, a music industry lawyer and Chico State’s record label and production program adviser, joined East Bay Ray and discussed, in talk-show fashion, the harmful effects of piracy and the influence “big tech” has on the music industry.

Big tech companies like Google, Pandora and MTV exploit and oppress musicians and their work, East Bay Ray said.

In 1985, the Dead Kennedys sang a song called “MTV — Get Off the Air,” and that sentiment hasn’t changed for East Bay Ray.

Big tech and recording artists are the equivalent of pimps and prostitutes, he said.

“Pimps are not cool, especially when they don’t pay their hookers,” East Bay Ray said, receiving applause and laughter from the audience.

There is a distinction between sharing a couple copies of a CD with friends or family and mass-producing someone’s content for the general public to earn money from others’ work, he said.

“The difference is that we do all the work and they get all the money,” East Bay Ray said.

There has been a 45 percent decrease in the number of independent musicians since 2002, he said.

The people who really have to worry about the piracy problem are future generations of creators, he said.

His warning resonated with Hugh Hammond, a senior music composition and recording arts major.

“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.”

Big tech companies are able to control much of the music industry by gathering content, putting it on their websites and getting paid advertisements, East Bay Ray said. If caught, companies sometimes claim to be responsible hosts under the 1998 amendments to the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. After promises of removing content and blaming users, the companies cash their checks from ads placed on the pages.

The amendments to the act protect the hosting websites from being sued for copyrighted material if a customer puts the material up, rather than the host.

Big tech companies are looking to make all the creative content free and to almost eliminate the copyright law all together, East Bay Ray said.

Google is the biggest offender of big tech exploitation, he said.

Rivas also blames the Internet giant.

“Google likes to pretend like they are our friends,” she said.

East Bay Ray considers Spotify, a music streaming application from Sweden, to be corrupt.

Lina Falk, a Swedish foreign exchange student involved with KCSC radio and SOTA Productions on campus, disagrees with East Bay Ray, and supports Spotify and what the program has to offer.

“How we view Spotify and how it is used in Sweden is that people really pay for the service,” Falk said.

The music industry can cut its losses to piracy by creating and offering a variety of music services online, she said.

“The situation is what it is, and you cannot just rewind it,” Falk said.

At the close of the night, Rivas and the punk musician received a standing ovation from the audience before East Bay Ray answered follow-up questions, posed for pictures and signed autographs for fans.

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<strong>Nicole Gerspacher can be reached at</strong> <em>[email protected]</em>

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