Oh Hypocrisy, You Foul Demon You; A Very Special DRM Update

Since the dawn of the new millennium, the people on this planet fortunate enough to own and operate their own personal, internet-enabled computers have been forcibly changing the delivery of digital media. Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa, and Bittorent featured new and innovative technologies that delivered content, but were also rejected by companies, corporations, and associations that made it clear business would not support them. Apple Inc. was and is one of those companies.

Recently, Apple head honcho Steve Jobs surprised everyone when he stated "If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store." Jobs' offer to rid iTunes of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is great news for the consumers of digital content, as it would free us to trade songs with friends and make as many backup copies of our legally purchased music as we wanted. It is, however, terrible news for the association currently providing Mr. Jobs with his beloved content. This association is regularly mocked on Tiny Mix Tapes and the Internet Tubes in general, and they responded to Steve's DRM comments with, "Apple [should] license its DRM to other technology companies. We think that's a great solution." The Recording Industry Association of America has made foolish comments in the past, but this one takes the ultra-ignorant award of stupidity for failing to note this method would be impossible to implement with the current restrictions placed on Apple by the recording companies.

According to Jobs in his letter, if the iTunes software is cracked, Apple has a limited amount of time to fix the issue before each recording company can remove its catalog from iTunes with absolutely no legal repercussions. So, licensing Fairplay, the DRM that Apple uses, would likely be even more cumbersome than using the software itself. It would be in Apple's interest to at least attempt it, as it would be able to charge whatever it wanted for Fairplay, because the iPod has a hidden feature: it's able to print money in any currency. Including Monopoly money.

Jobs made his statements early last week, and we've been patiently waiting for the recording companies to come forward with statements. Edgar Bronfman, the chief executive of Warner Music, stated Jobs' ideas were "completely without logic or merit," and he desperately wishes that was true. Sony, the heartless, cum-stained bastard it is, has declined to make a comment, most likely in fear of embarrassing itself any further. How are those PS3 sales coming? Universal, in its tireless efforts to never comment on anything, has not commented on anything. EMI is playing a different hand, and it's one that supports the utopia Mr. Jobs dreamed of in his manifesto1. The courageous label has decided to try selling more of its music without the DRM restrictions, after it ran a successful pilot program last December. EMI's announcement may be purely coincidental, but I'd like to think they're related.

While a world without DRM would be great, that reality is not yet upon us. And until Apple removes DRM from their iTunes store, Steve Jobs will be a hypocritical prick that is using the music industry as a scapegoat for his growing business concerns in Europe (iTunes recently became illegal in Norway). And if he shoots his wad too early and drops DRM before the association wants to, he risks them packing it in and supporting the Zune or whatever shitty service Sony is currently hawking instead. The industry still has the power to treat iTunes just like Napster or Kazaa, so it took balls to do what Jobs did. And for that, this hardened open-source advocate will give him a shred of respect. He'd better not screw up.

1 Manifesto was used by Edgar "Sand In My Vagina" Bronfman.

RIAA Faces Major Setbacks Because It Is Ridiculous

Last week, a wittle wittle baby, accused of copyright infringement, filed a claim accusing the RIAA of "violating antitrust laws, conspiring to defraud the courts, and making extortionate threats," according to the AP (and Michael Ocean!). Robert Santangelo, now 16, was originally 11 when the "piracy" supposedly happened, but he denies ever having shared the files (shit, at 11, the boy couldn't even spell "piracy," let alone hate Eric Clapton as much as I do). Santangelo sound familiar? If you hop in the DeLorean with me, you might recall the PR disaster that was the RIAA vs. Patti Santangelo, the 42-year-old mom who famously refused to settle with the RIAA. (Yes, Robert's her son -- good work detective!)

As if that lawsuit wasn't enough, the RIAA faced another major setback this week. Another mom, Deborah Foster, recently won a case against the RIAA, in which the trade group has been ordered to pay the case's legal fees. Deborah was originally the target of litigation until the case was dropped, because it was her daughter who committed the actual infringing. Like the Santangelo case, the RIAA proceeded to sue Foster's daughter, which is significant because it clearly discerns who specifically is in trouble if there's file-sharing in a household (the person who downloaded the tracks, not the person who pays the bills). Furthermore, previous cases concerning legal fees were decided in the RIAA's favor, so this victory can be seen as a warning to the RIAA and its bullying tactics.

Or not. The RIAA recently filed a fresh copyright infringement lawsuit against some 23-year-old dude from Maine for sharing FIVE songs. Each song priced at $750. Again, he shared FIVE songs. With all this talk about everything as culturally relative and how there are no universal truths, I guess it's oddly comforting to know that the RIAA's shittiness is a constant.

Police possibly reunite for first tour since 8-to-the-Sixle; Sting changes his name back to Gordon,

As comedian Dana Carvey once said, you have to have balls the size of Earth to change your name from G-G-Gordon to Sting. How the hell did he pull that off? If a friend of mine tried to tell me to call him ‘Dew-Drop' instead of ‘Jeremy' I'd probably drop a MEAN elbow right down on his head just to show him Americans don't put up with that SHIT. Because I'm tough, I could probably get away with it.

Pretentious names aside, we all know a Police reunion would/will be a HUGE deal, if only because we would be saved the agony of more awful Gordon (aka Sting, Dew-Drop) solo music. We also all know that rumors have been swirling like a carton of 'nilla-fudge ice cream. First, G-G-Gordon said the group is planning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Roxanne, a laff-tastic movie starring Steve Martin. They must really like that movie! The trio are also apparently preparing to Bust the world at the Grammys on February 11. I don't know why-the-flip they'd choose the clown-shoe'd Grammys as their point of entry though... why not something classy, like the Ace Awards, or maybe they could co-host the Emmys with Kelsey Grammar and the latest stripper he's dating? Or the Simpsons-curated Princie Awards? That would be nails. I predict right here and now that Skinner sweeps 'em...

Other rumors have The Police dew-dropping on Bonaroo Festival, which has gone from ‘ewwww, hippie smell-jam' to ‘ooooh, hippie smell-jam!' in a few short years, and embarking on a full-scale world tour, which would be announced the day after the Grammys performance. Of course, that's just what we'll be expecting them to do, so expect a bevy of twists and turns worthy of a '50s mystery thriller. In addition, Goooordon still has to complete his February-through-March Pied Piper tour in support of his solo lute album, so until then we'll just have to HURRY-UP-AND-WAIT for official announcements. [double-take] A fucking solo lute album? I wish I were making this up; really. But one thing is for sure: If The Police reunite before Chinese Democracy comes out, I will have won a lifetime supply of mini-reubens from a close friend (we made a bet in '95 see, and signed in our own blood... I'd like to see Goooordon make such a gutsy bet).

New York Senator Proposes Bill Banning Both iPods From Crosswalks And Children From His Front Lawn

Carl "Crotchety Ol' Codger" Kruger, who lives in that mysterious house down by the water retention pond and lets the grass grow tall enough to cover his solid-steel front door, is known around town for a variety of reasons. Not only for the time he called the cops on trick-or-treaters three years in a row, nor merely for the time he is rumored to have stood completely naked in his garage, alternately weeping and growling until the neighbors clothed him and coaxed him to his bedroom. He is also esteemed among acquaintances for his key role in American politics as an influential New York state senator.

Senator Kruger deals with masses of people on a daily basis from all walks of life, trying to internalize the myriad needs of his community while staying true to his personal moral compass. That is why Kruger has decided to propose a bill that would ban the use of iPods and cellphones while crossing traffic. The fine would be a tidy amount of $100, which, in relevant cases, would be in addition to fines for jaywalking. Perhaps you thought jaywalking fines were a myth, but you would be wrong. The deadly kind of wrong.

"We're talking about people walking sort of tuned in and in the process of being tuned in, tuned out," Kruger told WCBS-TV in a Joycean spew of language brought to its final breath. "Tuned out to the world around them. They're walking into speeding cars. They're walking into buses. They're walking into one another," he went on, WCBS reporters horrified and looking desperately at one other. "Tuned in to the music, tuned out to the real world, know what I'm saying Janet? I'm talking about a group of slithery snakes just slithering their way along the roads and into the roads, of the roads, looking for a quick fix, see what I'm saying here, I'm saying a little something about a quick fix, that's the sort of thing I'm talking around, up, down, sideways, and ass-backwards is the kind of world we live in today people, do I hear a stir, I said do I hear a stir in the heavens, going once going twice, sold to the highest bidder, oh take me home Lord God on high." Kruger then thanked the reporters for their time, found a nickel behind his own ear, and baptized the man holding the boom mic.

If passed, the fine will apply only to Buffalo and New York City, because the people getting hit by buses in Albany, frankly, deserve it.

Chin Up Chin Up & Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Tour To Bring Positivity Back to North America

Oh man, I cannot believe that Chicagoans Chin Up Chin Up & Springfieldians (thanks griffinkay!) Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are going to tour together beginning February 15! This is going to be so great for everyone involved! These are two of the best bands! Have you never read a blog? Yes? Well, okay then, you know that this is so great. Both CUCU and SSLYBY put out records last year, and they were both great! Chin Up had This Harness Can't Ride Anything (TMT Review) and Someone Still put out Broom (Polyvinyl). Oh my stars, what a great time to be alive! Now these two bands, these two great big piles of amazing, are going to be sharing a stage for awhile. Now I know there is a God! Just kidding, I never doubted that the world is under the control of a giant man in the sky who gives you $0.25 for a baby tooth. Oops, wrong invisible, benevolent force. That aside, this is so great! Finally, some good news! No offense to the rest of the TMT stories, but man, this is exactly what the world needs now. Crap, I forgot that North America is not the world. It is all the world I will ever need, who else has things like CUCU & SSLYBY? Japan? Australia? England? Brazil? Egypt? Iran? Nope. Enjoy, North America!

Hot on the heels of an apparent collaboration on Björk's collaboration-crazy upcoming record, Konono N°1, the artists behind 2004's excessively brilliant afro-pop record Congotronics (TMT Review), are out on the road, circulating the U.S. for a smattering of concert appearances. And if that wasn't a long enough and difficult sentence for you, then get a load of this adjective-laced ridiculousness called a sentence that doesn't have any purpose whatsoever!

The group, who hail from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (that's in Africa, geography fans), have been making music with their salvaged instruments (constructed mostly from materials found in junkyards) since at least 1978. Their track "Mungua-Muanga" was recorded back in 1978 and appeared on a compilation called Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa in 1987. The afrobeat collective most recently played their masikilu music on the Congotronics 2 compilation.

It should also be noted they are playing the Coachella festival on the same day as Björk, as well as playing the Reykjavik Arts Festival (at which Björk has appeared in the past.) Does this mean that we will get to see a live collaboration, perhaps?