coming soon to a theatre near you: RIAA SWAT!

you have probably heard about this already, since it has been all over the blogosphere (i first read it here on drive a faster car), but in case you haven’t, dj’s drama and cannon of the atlanta-based aphilliates and producers of the gangsta grillz (btw – if you clicked that link you will see that their web site is shut down as well) were arrested by the fulton county sherrifs office and some sort of recording industry of association of america (riaa) task force for selling illegal music.

seems to be some controversy here as supporters of the dj’s claim that the ‘mixtapes’ they were selling are perfectly legal (see the sound of young america here) and endorsed by artists as a way of getting their music out to a wider audience.

you can watch the clip of the news story on fox 5 here.

couple of interesting things; first is the talking head from the riaa sounding dumb-founded that these guys were selling their stuff on the internet. Wow, those master criminals, selling their illegal wares right out there where the riaa could find them; go figure. maybe they didn’t think they were doing anything illegal. either that or they are the some of the stupidest criminals on the planet.

second is the unfortunate insinuation from the fulton county sherrif major that because this involved hip-hop and all they might have found some weapons and drugs. Of course they didn’t, but they often do in ‘raids of these types.’ i am generally not one to believe in or call out code-words, but that’s about as clear as they get.

and finally, i love the guys from the riaa running around in their dea-style, swat team windbreakers. sure enough the riaa hired a former atf chief to head their ‘anti-piracy unit.’ is there an industry that does more to say FU to its consumers than the recording industry? i think you would be hard pressed to find one and of course the folks at pitchfork media agree.

7 Comments so far

  1. jam (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

    Some questions are not addressed here. Was Gangsta Grillz using licensed tracks on their mixtapes? Did they have permission from the artists and labels to use the songs? Those answers are noticeably absent.


  2. james (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    good questions, jam, and ones i don’t have the answers to.

    either way, the riaa’s reaction is just silly. they should be working with people like this, not treating the like drug dealers.


  3. codymc (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

    My understanding is that even if they had the permission of the artists — they didn’t have the RIAA’s permission and therefore they deam it illegal.

    So this really answers the question of who owns the product of the artists creativity — them or the RIAA?


  4. tiffany (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

    from the little bit i know about the industry, plenty of mixtapes include singles that record labels send to DJs with a “for promotional purposes only” label. sometimes the dj gets explicit, written permission to include the song on a mixtape. as often (i’d guess more often), they don’t.

    so the big question is: is putting a song on a mixtape — *and then selling that mixtape* — a “promotional use” or a copyright violation?


  5. james (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2007 @ 11:05 pm

    tiffany, beats me. i don’t really know the law on this and these guys could be guilty as hell of something; i am sure high powered lawyers on both sides will sort that out.

    the bigger point is the idiotic tactics of the record industry. these guys were obviously providing a valuable service linking consumers and music.

    the riaa should embrace them not treat them like drug kingpins…


  6. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

    The way I’ve always heard it from DJs is that the money you pay for a mixtape goes toward the packaging and distribution costs, not the music.

    But really, the RIAA acting like clueless jackasses? Is water still wet?


  7. Tatiana (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 10:50 am

    Mixtapes (in this same form and package….well..on actual tapes…) have been around since the ’80s. Many of the most influential verses ever recorded in hip-hop were released on mixtapes and not on commercial tracks for artists’ LPs. The most talented (read: rappers who actually have lyrical skill) hip-hop artists are discovered through their mixtape recordings by the record industry. In other words: hip-hop needs mixtapes.

    What does that say about the RIAA? They’re out of touch with one of their most lucrative genres, and they’re mad that 2006 was such a bad year for album sales and they want their money.

    Conclusion: They’ll either get their act together, or hip-hop will secede and put out the music through independent labels and distribution deals. The RIAA is up shit creek with this one.



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