RIAA Continues Campus-Focused Wave Of Litigation; Hey! Here Comes The Man

Ever since their beautiful new stationery came back from the printers, the RIAA has been sending off letters nonstop -- mostly in the interest of strengthening relationships with distant (yet no less cherished) relatives, but there are a notable 403 that have a colder tone and are not lightly spritzed with perfume. These letters have been sent to 403 of the most notorious randomly selected file-sharers on college campus networks, and their demand for pre-litigation settlements is a continuation of the RIAA's campaign to crack the skulls of external-hard-drive-maxing-out college kids. Those who receive the letters are requested to visit p2plawsuits.com and settle their cases out of court at a discounted price.

"The music industry continues to develop exciting new digital models that offer fans, including college students, their favorite music how they want it and where they want it," said Steven Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the RIAA. "The good news is that students represent some of music's biggest fans. Unfortunately, they too often turn to illegal sites for their music." Marks then put up an image of stick-figures being dangled over a pit of snakes on the overhead projector. "And that is why students must be punished. Punished like the days of old. Hear my words, students: you are not safe. Not anywhere. You'll go to a football game and all of a sudden the man on the loudspeaker will call for a doctor -- it's an emergency. In a forest even, by yourself, one day you'll notice how the deer are diseased or how the rivers are dried up -- something. Run to the edge of nowhere, John Q. Public. We have the best binoculars."

The campuses targeted this time around are: Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State, North Dakota State, Purdue (West Lafayette and Calumet campuses), University of California - Santa Barbara, University of Connecticut, University of Maryland - College Park, University of Massachusetts (Amherst and Boston campuses), University of Nebraska - Lincoln, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Stevens
Point, Stout and Whitewater campuses).

It appears that DeVry has received yet another pardon.

Halloween Is Coming and I Wanted To Share This Costume That I Totally Want With You; Well, I Guess I Could Tell You About eMusic’s New DRM Free Tool As Well

In the spirit of saving the best for last, you'll have to voluntarily read through this news article to get to the picture of the costume I want for Halloween. Let me just blaze through this story as quickly as possible, because I'm stoked to show you the costume!

Essentially, eMusic has a new DRM-free tool for downloading music instead of using its old proprietary downloader. The magic part about the OPEN SOURCE tool is that it runs on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux, meaning it'll work with programs such as iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, and Amarok. All of your songs will automatically download into your respective library as you purchase the music. Anyone can then freely edit the tool, and since it's based on Mozilla open source, Firefox extensions are a go! Gotta hand it to eMusic for this one, I like what they're doing by embracing an open source agreement.

Meanwhile, Epitaph has decided to pull out of eMusic because they aren't gettin' enough money per track. eMusic gives 27 to 33-cents a song, whereas iTunes gives 65 to 84-cents a song. It kind of blows to lose Elliott Smith and DangerDoom on eMusic, but whatevs.

Now time for that costume!

CLICK HERE.

Your Monday Morning Just Got A Little Suckier: Explosions In The Sky The Decemberists Cancel Their Summer Remaining European Dates

Explosions in the Sky The Decemberists have communicated in a brief statement on their website MySpace that they have been forced to cancel all of their summer European dates due to a family band member falling seriously ill. This includes an imminent date at All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead, which I was totally going to go to.

"With much regret The Decemberists have cancelled the remainder of our European tour. One of our band members is ill and needs to return immediately home to mend.

"Our deepest apologies to all of our fans whom have purchased tickets to our forthcoming European shows. Unfortunately our calendar doesn't allow us to return to Europe at any point soon so please refund tickets at point of purchase.

"It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands that it is because of an extreme situation that we had to make such an abrupt change in plans."

Damn, man.

TMT's thoughts are with the band and their family and hope for a speedy recovery.

If you live in any of the following towns, get ready to stamp your foot and go "Oh, for Fu":

* Laura Veirs

Thanks [Nunpuncher for the template.]

Michael Showalter Sells First Comedy Album; We Don’t Have This Money

More important than anything else being reported here today, if you haven't seen The Michael Showalter Showalter, I suggest you watch a few episodes NOW and then return to your beloved TMT. If all talk show hosts were as hard-hitting as Show (to Paul Rudd: "Are you... lonely?) I might stay up on weeknights past 8 P.M. Dude even manages to make Andy Samberg funny.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the single-season run of Comedy Central's Stella (starring Showalter along with compadres David Wain and Michael Ian Black), please exit your browser, jump into a car -- any car -- and demand that the driver take you to the nearest DVDerie so you can examine one of the finest, most ridiculous, actual-belly-laugh-inducing comedy shows of all time. Stella is right up there with Mind of Mencia, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Bob Saget's stand-up special, Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl, and those "Big Dog" t-shirts they sell in shopping malls.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the Stella crew's previous show, The State, that might be something to check out as well. I was obsessed with this show at age 10 and enlisted my friends in a terrible reenactment of choice scenes. This videotape has since been lit on fire and buried nine feet below the soil, but I trust you will all value the discerning comedic taste of a pre-teen.

Oh, and if you haven't seen Showalter's movie, The Baxter, drop everything and... well, actually come on back. Set yourself down in that comfortable chair and keep reading. You don't need to see that. You don't even need to see the trailer for that.

This is what we call burying the lead: Michael Showalter has now decided to release an album for JDub Records on November 13. Entitled Sandwiches & Cats (...is Patton Oswalt going to sue?), the CD will mix up regular stand-up with sketches and improvised material, both live and in the studio. Janeane Garofalo and Eugene Mirman show up as featured guests, and one can imagine that the tracks will be either nothing short of amazing or better than The Baxter. So much better.

Sandwiches & Cats tracklist:

The iPod Anti-Trust Case Now Comes In Black, Pink, And White

An antitrust lawsuit against Apple mulls in the background, as new, enviously nubile iPods were recently announced. The suit-filers charge that Apple has continued to block files sold by other online music stores (Wal-Mart, Napster, Best Buy, Yahoo, etc., which all use DRM-ed up Windows Media files), despite how allegedly inexpensive licensing the WMA (and other) formats would be. The Apple “crippleware” that restricts WMA files is also charged with doing the “crippleware walk” in defiance of a previous court order. The argument is that buyers of the iPod are forced into buying music from Apple’s iTunes store -- or ripping music from their own CDs. Unfair!

Has Apple insidiously doomed purchasers of the iPod into a life of Apple serfdom? Do people listen to WMA files? How long have I scoured the internet looking for a way to convert my annoyingly bothersome WMAs into MP3s? What about FLAC? Does anyone care about FLAC???? No, not AFLAC, I’m talking about these. (Note: some iPods can play FLAC files, but who really cares about lossless, open-source audio formats.)

IN OTHER NEWS

A somewhat unrelated case pending in the EU challenges Apple’s country-by-country pricing model, which charges EU consumers differing amounts, depending on which country they live in. Pays for play?

IN OTHER OTHER NEWS

Then there’s this lawsuit that slaps Apple with damages for dropping the price of the iPhone so soon after launch, in turn pissing off people who really, really wanted to sell theirs on eBay.

As per usual, bootleggers, pirates, and otherwise unassuming file-sharers are unaffected.

Pitchfork and All Tomorrow’s Parties Team Up For A Festival; To Keep Up Our Much-Publicized Rivalry With Pitchfork, We Decide To Team Up With Only The Best Movies To Host a Festival Too

[Good day, everyone! Just a little disclaimer: if you indeed decide to go to the website featured on the image in this story and you're at work, by all means feel free. Just pack your shit beforehand.]

P4K announced, oh, about an hour ago, that they are helping curate another kick-ass ATP festival in Camber Sands Holiday Park (in Sussex). Of course, it's hard to believe P4k, especially when they promised that Of Montreal/Girl Talk remix that we've never fucking heard. I've been pissed off about that actually. That was promised like four months ago! (It's probably Gregg's fault though, so whatever. Here is a link to the lies.)

Sooooo, basically ATP and Pitchfork are sort of "fighting" each other or something, 'cause Pitchfork is going to pick half the bands for the first weekend (May 9-11) and ATP is going to pick the other half for the following weekend. It's called ATP Vs. Pitchfork. Here is a partial list of the bandz playing:

Shit man, that lineup looks stellar. I bet ATP picked Ween. It'll cost £140 which is around $285 in U.S. currency. Daaaamn.

Well, if you are poor like me and scared to leave the country, then you should definitely consider our festival, which will be coinciding with the ATP Festival. Guess what? It's completely free, and you don't even have to leave your chair. Don't worry this isn't like our April Fool's joke. That was lame, -- we're so over that.

So prepare yourselves for this:

That's right! We're teaming up with the porn gods from Only The Best Movies Dot Com for an awesome porn festival, where TMT will pick half of the best pornos and OTMB will pick the other. We can't give you a "partial" list yet, but I promise we'll have one for you soon. So, hang tight -- we'll drop more information about our awesome porn festival soon. Until then, clip out some coupons for your favorite lotion and check out P4K's own news story on the ATP/P4K festival here

RIAA Looks Deeply Into A Music Fan’s Eyes, Winks, Half-Smiles, and Then Charges Her $220,000 For Sharing 24 Songs

“The law here is clear, as are the consequences for breaking it.” - RIAA

After two days of testimony and four hours of deliberation, the RIAA surprisingly won a pivotal case yesterday when a federal jury in Minnesota found a woman liable for sharing copyrighted MP3s. For a mere 24 songs, Jammie Thomas (after a public whipping) has been ordered to pay a whopping $220,000 to all four down-home, friendly music groups Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and particularly EMI Group (Capitol, specifically). The payment breaks down to $9,250 in statutory damages per song, which could've been been as low as $750 per song ($18,000 total) or as high as $150,000 ($3.6 million total).

The case, which was the first jury trial in the industry's lawsuits targeting individuals, is pivotal because the judge essentially ruled that the mere act of making MP3s available for download is viewed as infringement. Meaning: the RIAA did not have to prove that any songs were actually transferred. The RIAA centered its accusations around Thomas having a Kazaa user name linked to a web address, as well as replacing her computer's hard drive in order to cover-up evidence.

Since 2003, 30,000+ people have been accused of illegally file-sharing, according to The New York Times, but most of them settle out of court for $4,000 on average. The RIAA claims to lose $4.2 billion per year due to file-sharing, but, as Paul Resnikoff of Digital Music News points out, it also has to do with "increased competition for entertainment dollars, antiquated pricing strategies, and an incredibly hostile stance towards consumers." Nobody ever said capitalizing on digital music was going to be easy, but these pricey lawsuits will be the end of major labels if they can't properly engage with the internet, diversify their revenue, adjust their pricing models, and tap deeper into licensing and distribution. Easier than it sounds, I'm sure.

Put On Your Whig and Jump Jump, Nirvana’s Unplugged Is Coming Out On DVD

Remember when Kurt Cobain's body was found (April 8, 1994, for all the young ones) and, for the whole weekend afterward, MTV played Nirvana's performance on their MTV Unplugged series over and over, interspersed with news reports about his suicide from the likes of Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren(burger), and Ted Koppel? Wait, you didn't know that Ted used to be on MTV!? Yeah, I can still recall him alerting affiliates that his show, Yo!, MTV Nightline, was going to run long, usually due to events like Axl Rose releasing the hostages or an evenly matched and engrossing debate between the Daddy Mac and the Mac Daddy. Ahhh, good times.

Well, get ready to relive those 90210-fueled days starting on November 19, when Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York performance is released on DVD! The performance was atypical for the band because, aside from the acoustic instruments, it included a handful of semi-unknown covers, the exclusion of most of the band's "hits," and the sporting of a ponytail by Dave Grohl. It has never been released on any video format since it premiered on the synergistic cable behemoth on November 18, 1993, but The CD version, which added two songs not found on the original eMpTyV (hey, remember that one? Or Skank?) 12-song broadcast, was released almost 13 years ago. The DVD will include the entire 14-song concert, as well as four songs recorded during rehearsal. Now, some other TMTers would probably make a needles and smack joke here, but not me. Thank you, and good night.

Straight from the back of that CD you never listen to, the MTV Unplugged In New York DVD setlist:

Radiohead Close to Signing with Side One Recordings/ATO – So Would They Be Considered an “Indie” Band?

As we already reported, Radiohead expect to sign to a record label in order to help distribute their forthcoming album, In Rainbows, despite self-releasing it digitally next Wednesday and as a special box set in December. The label chatter has increased tremendously, especially after managers Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge recently told BBC Radio that a decision was coming within days. It's unsurprising, then, that places like Billboard and Hits are already starting to predict the likely home for the "proper" retail version of In Rainbows.

Both Billboard and Hits point to the same area, but there is an important distinction to be made. Billboard says ATO (and possibly Side One Recordings) is the "front-runner," while Hits seems fairly confident about Side One Recordings. What both labels have in common is Coran Capshaw, a rich, filthy rich dude who manages Dave Matthews Band and owns Musictoday, the Bonnaroo franchise, and plenty more. Most importantly (at least for this story), Capshaw also co-owns ATO, which is a division of the Sony BMG-owned RCA.

So, how does Side One come in? Well, Capshaw owns another company called Red Light Management, which is significant because Red Light and ATO jointly created Side One. You've probably never heard of it, because it's new, and its first release is Underworld's highly anticipated album, Oblivion with Bells, expected on October 16. This is already a good reason why Radiohead might sign to Side One, but also because Phil Costello, a former senior VP of marketing for Capitol and an early industry chum of Radiohead, would be in charge of marketing and promotion.

Long story short: Capshaw owns both ATO and Side One, but Side One seems most favorable for Radiohead's unique position.

What becomes interesting though is whether or not ATO and/or Side One are technically independent of the major labels. Currently, ATO is owned by Sony BMG, but reports say ATO is trying to break its ties with Sony BMG (further underscored with Billboard reporting that David Gray's Greatest Hits will be the label's first "fully independent" release). Meanwhile, Side One doesn't seem to have a direct connection to any major label, aside from the tenuous Capshaw connection. Of course, things are never as clear-cut as they seem, so who really knows, especially during this somewhat transitional phase for ATO/Side One.

So, what kind of deal might this be? According to Hits: "The arrangement is said to be a 50/50 joint venture and will not involve a sizable advance — in keeping with what are expected to be only modest physical sales. What remains unclear is the term of the deal and the number of albums involved."

Distribution, of course, is a different story. The popular predictions seem to be EMI outside the U.S., and RED in the States, an "indie" distro that's owned by Sony BMG. Hard to fully escape the beast, obviously. (Case in point: Lightning Bolt is distributed by a major-owned distro.)

Of course, no deal has been sealed, and rumor has it that EMI and Warner are still in the running. But with the potential of Capshaw's intuitiveness and Costello's direct experience, Side One could quite possibly be a perfect fit. And if Side One is indeed an independent, well, shit: match made in heaven. And then, finally, Radiohead, after all these years, would be this much closer to hiking up their skirts a little more for Dave Matthews.

This Just In: Incredibly Beautiful Women (And Singers too, I guess) The Pipettes Being Kept Out of The Country, I Hate America

Dear Fat Cats in Washington,

I want you to drop whatever it is you're doing right now, be it tending to the War in Iraq, fixing a hole in the budget, or spinning your wheels on that whole "digital rights management" front. Just forget all of that stuff for a sec, because something much more urgent requires your full, immediate attention. Try to remain calm: According to a post on their Myspace page, UK-based, girl-pop darlings The Pipettes have been forced to postpone the start of their North American tour due to Visa paperwork being delayed! Now, I realize that you're just doing your job with this whole "foreigners need work visas to earn money in exchange for goods and services in this country" thing, and I know that you don't exactly have your "finger on the pulse" these days, so I feel obligated to clue you in here. Not only are The Pipettes talented singers and performers who are trying to make their way peddling big, doo-wop-inspired, smile-enducing pop-rock music in a big, scary, male-dominated music industry, but they're also SEXY AS HELL!

Honestly, now. I want you to take a good, long look at the beautiful young starlets that you and your silly "laws" are delaying from coming to our beautiful country and treating us all with come-hither stares, alluring mod-style dresses, and pearly white, girl-next-door smiles (uh... and I guess that their music is pretty good too).

Preventing such, uh, "talent" from gracing our shores and enriching our lives is, frankly, criminal. Besides, the English trio's debut album We Are The Pipettes (TMT Review) has already been released here in the U.S. via the Cherrytree/Interscope label and includes two new tracks: "Dance and Boogie" and "Baby, Just Be Yourself." Trust me, guys, these ladies have got... well, let's just say they've got the goods. I mean, the album was originally released in the UK in July '06 and hit #41 on the charts over there! So come on, already! Jump on the bandwagon! Don't you want your kids to think you're cool??? To make these ladies postpone their tour until October 25th at the Echoplex in Los Angeles would just be hypocritical. And who knows? Maybe if you scratch their backs , all THREE of them will scratch yours... at the SAME TIME.

Skimpy, alluring tourdates, pretty much all rescheduled:

$ rescheduled dates

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