You Buy CD + Computer = Ripped MP3 File = Illegal = RIAA Mathematics

As Bill Murray said in Where The Buffalo Roam, "I'm going to gnaw on his skull, because it just hasn't gotten weird enough for me." Mr. S. Thompson, many of your words are still hauntingly relevant when it comes to this crazy little thing called the music industry.

Not content to just sue plain old illegal file-sharing thieves for downloading shitty, moderate-quality MP3 rips of groundbreaking artists like Maroon 5, it seems the RIAA wants to clamp down on those who convert their own CDs into digital formats.

A few months back, 26 year old Jennifer Pariser, Sony BMG's anti-piracy lawyer, was quoted as saying that making a copy of a song you purchased is like "steal[ing] just one copy." After all, "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we [could] say he stole a song," right?

Now the RIAA has gone on record in an Arizona court involving Atlantic Records stating a similar sentiment. According to Wired, the defendant in the Atlantic v. Howell case "converted Plaintiff's recordings into the compressed ‘.mp3’ format and they are in his shared folder; they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs." So much for fair use, apparently.

Except that in a 2005 case, the record companies indicated that it is ‘lawful’ to ‘rip’ a CD into MP3 files to put onto your own iPod or other music player. It seems that within the two years, some ‘adjustments’ have been made to the industry's approach to protecting their intellectual property.

It is understandable that the record companies would want to set up some defenses; after all, music sales are their bread and butter. However, going to such an extent as to indicate that making a personal copy of a song is ‘stealing’ is a generalization of absurdist proportions. It's intriguing that the same lawyer who made this claim in October also admitted that the labels' anti-piracy lawsuits are costing the company "millions" of dollars.

The irony doesn't even stop there; the RIAA's website even indicates that there is "no legal ‘right’ to copy the copyrighted music on a CD onto a CD-R. However, burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won't usually raise concerns." Creating a convoluted twist of mixed, vague messages isn't a great way to establish faith in your product, by the way.

The sad question that I have to ask is who is benefiting from this twisted approach to such a positive product? It's not the artists, it's not the journalists covering them, or the publicity workers, or even the listeners. If the lawsuits are costing the industry millions, then it's not even benefiting the labels themselves. I'm not feeling very mathematic right now, so you do the math; I'll go gnaw on a skull until this whole thing just calmly blows over. Because it just hasn't gotten weird enough for me.

Beastie Boys Radio Is Back Again… Today!

Remember that Beastie Boys internet radio show I told you about (TMT News)? I know I said it was happening every Tuesday, but it turns out it’s happening whenever the Beastie Boys feel like it. In fact, the next show is today (Wednesday), 4-6 PM EST. Listen to this one, because I’m not gonna keep warning you. This show’s theme is “freaky,” so don’t listen with your mom in the room.

Here you go: http://www.littleradio.com

The U.S. Finally Gets Hey Willpower’s LP; No Procrastination Jokes In This Article

In any article about San Francisco’s Hey Willpower, there are myriad opportunities to make a cheap joke about how the band overcame an obstacle or stopped procrastinating to do something (because, get it, their name is Hey Willpower... funny). But I’m not going to do that, no. I am better than that.

I’m going to make cheap jokes about their album.

It’s been out for awhile overseas, but January 22, the band’s full-length debut, P.D.A., will hit U.S. record stores’ displays. Hey Willpower feel very affectionate toward this new version, which features a different tracklist, new artwork, and a cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s track, "Heart It Races." Commenting on an announced but no-dates-yet tour, the band’s own Will Schwartz gave this public statement:

Hey Willpower feels like something new and postmodern without being smug or ironic. When we're performing live and people are doin' their dances and making noise, we know it's right. Dance is becoming a big part of our live show. I'm good with the chin scratchers and musicologists and philosophers too, but sometimes you have to let the emotions take over. Let's dance now and we can talk about it later if you want.

Sounds like the LP’s going to display some rockin’ dance tunes, Will. I’m sure the public will feel -- oh god, I can’t do this anymore. This LP sounds pretty sweet, people, so go check them out instead of sitting here groaning at my lame jokes.

P.D.A. US Tracklist:

Wilco Map Spring Jaunt, Plan Complete Recitation Of Entire Wilco Catalog

It appears Jeff Tweedy and entourage have decided to unclutter their closets for the New Year with the recent announcement of February's residency at Chicago's famed Riviera Theatre. Entitled "Wilco Winter Residency 2008" the five shows will run February 15, 16, and 18-20. The shows, which boast no supporting band, will delve deep into the Wilco back catalog and will include a "one-of-a-kind" setlist each night.

In the past, Tweedy has been hesitant to play older material seeing as that a majority of it was written when Wilco was a very different band with very different members (exhibit A: Sam Jones' essential 2002 film, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart), but it appears he's mentally and physically prepared this time around. It's also probably no coincidence that the band dipped into early material for their recent November run, including the fantastic "Too Far Apart" off 1995's A.M. (Sire/Reprise).

The boyishly handsome sextet has also announced a busy spring fling set to begin February 22 in Cleveland, OH and concluding March 26 in Brisbane, AU, with a two-night stand March 4-5 at Tipitina's in New Orleans somewhere in the middle.

Explosions in the Sky Confirm Huge Tour, Add Even More Acts (Animal Collective, Ghostface, Jens Lekman) to ATP 2008

Explosions in the Sky will curate 2008's All Tomorrow's Parties Festival. The Texas post-rockers confirmed in October that they would be playing with acts like Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine, Dinosaur Jr, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, and Adem.

The past couple weeks brought more names to the festival's roster, including Animal Collective, Ghostface Killah, Polvo, Four Tet, Silver Jews, and Jens Lekman. Temporary Residence labelmates Eluvium, Mono, and Lazarus are also scheduled to play. According to the band's website, roughly 20 more bands will be added to the roster over the coming months.

The festival will be held May 16-18 at Minehead's Butlins Holiday Park in the UK (what is it about Minehead's Butlins that screams PAR-TAY?). Tickets are available at the ATP website.

And without further ado, here are the dates for their 2008 tour.

The Department of Justice Says $9,250 Per Song in a RIAA Lawsuit is A-OK by Them

Back in October, 30-year-old Jammie Thomas was sued by the RIAA for allegedly sharing songs over the P2P network, Kazaa. The total was $222,000 for supposedly downloading and sharing 24 specific RIAA songs (TMT News). The RIAA picked the perfect target, as Jammie Thomas is a single mother with an annual income of $33,000. Even funnier, neither a hard drive containing the files nor evidence that would link Jammie's Kazaa account with the music was ever presented on trial to the Minnesota jury of 12. Yet the jury fell for jury instruction 15, which told the jurors that simply "making available" the files was enough justification.

After the Minnesota court ruled in favor of the RIAA -- this was the first time the RIAA has won in courts against music piracy -- the case was taken to the U.S. Department of Justice to question the constitutionality of the ruling. Many lawyers and experts on the matter believed it would have been shot down as unconstitutional, since suing someone for sharing 24 songs for $222,000 can be viewed as excessive. Sadly, they were wrong. As ruled by the Department of Justice, it turns out that suing a single mother for seven times her annual income is "constitutional."

Standing assistant attorney general of Minnesota Jeffrey Bucholtz agreed with the ruling, stating that the $222,000 is not only for compensation, but acts as a "deterrent" to scare file-sharers.

A ruling like this is a terrible blow to the supporters of file-sharing, and it could only mean negative things for anyone else who has or will be targeted in the RIAA's righteous quest for compensation.

If you'd like to show your support for the victim in this case, Jammie Thomas, you can go to freejammie.com.