Mr. Google Goes To Washington (And Demands Full Disclosure On Anti-Piracy Treaty)

Leading a coalition of internet advocacy groups and web-related companies, Google Inc. recently testified in front of the Department of Commerce in Washington. The issue at hand was the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a developing international treaty that aims to reduce piracy and counterfeiting of copyrighted material. While the treaty is yet unwritten, the proceedings surrounding its composition have been conducted in secrecy.

Though the treaty also concerns such physical goods as electronics and pharmaceuticals, it is its provisions toward digital media that garnered Google’s attention. A leaked outline of the treaty indicated that it might endow corporate copyright holders with the ability to hold ISPs (internet service providers) responsible for any copyrighted material distributed using their services. While internet issues had allegedly not yet been discussed in the hearings, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the U.S. trade office, demanding it publicize the details of the negotiations.

Although signing the treaty would require no change to existing U.S. law, Google urged the Bush administration not to sign (or to at least exclude the internet from the treaty), as doing so would freeze the law in its current state. In a changing media climate, argued representatives from Google, the U.S. Congress and courts have not yet found the appropriate balance between copyright protection and free exchange of information. Asked Google policy counsel Johanna Shelton, “Why would we want to enshrine one view of U.S. law?”

In the opinion of this writer, this balance (between copyright and fair use) will never be “settled.” As our methods of media distribution adapt to rapidly-developing technology, there may be no “end point” for U.S. copyright law. Gone are the days of a static approach to an unchanging media environment. There now exists, rather, a constantly shifting equilibrium that must be maintained by both the government and its citizens as the circumstances develop.

UPDATE: Bush Administration Voices Strong Opposition to Senate-Approved Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act Bill (And Totally Ruins My Fake Contest)

In a welcomed update to a story we posted two weeks ago (TMT News), the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act Bill -- approved last Friday by the Senate -- seems geared for a veto after the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce issued a joint statement September 23, 2008 voicing concerns over the increased bureaucracy and the weakened separation of powers mandated by the bill.

According to Wired's David Kravets:

The White House successfully lobbied the Senate to remove language tasking the Department of Justice with suing copyright and trademark infringers on behalf of Hollywood, the recording industry, manufacturers and software makers. But the Bush administration also doesn't want a copyright czar, a position on par with the nation's drug czar Congress created in 1982 to wage the War on Drugs. Lawmakers, however, sent him the package anyway.

The EIPRA would grant federal prosecutors with the authority to pursue file-sharers in violation of copyright laws and create an IP Enforcement Coordinator within the executive branch — an intrusion into federal authority and federal spending which would afford copyright holders with pro bono representation from Department of Justice prosecutors. And remember, we live in an era of “fiscal responsibility,” as the DoJ’s letter states.

(BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the potential veto on the EIPRA bill totally ruins the wicked awesome, yet wholly imaginary “The RIAA is Conspiring with the Federal Government to Eradicate All Traces of Internet Privacy in a Desperate Ploy to Recoup Diminishing Revenue / Name that Tune Contest!” So, I guess by default, the prize goes to the Department of Justice for stickin’ it to the RIAA. And to teddy bear companies, screw those guys. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read our first story on this bill so you don't miss out on my sharp wit!)

The Dow is Down, Awesome Tours are Up, Courtesy of Marnie Stern and Gang Gang Dance

My consumer confidence in rock shows for this quarter just went through the roof. Seriously, find your day planner and pencil in some quality time with Gang Gang Dance and Marnie Stern, the sickest tour announced in quite some time.

If you're a Marnie Stern n00b and need a quick lesson, here's what you should know: First, this girl rips on the axe. We're talking rapid-fire EVH finger-tapping solos on double-necked Gibson SG Supremes and Fender Jaguars. Second, she shreds with the likes of Pterodactyl and Hella. Third, indie rock nerds turn into teenage boys around her. And finally, she'll be traveling the countryside spreading gospel from her new album on Kill Rock Stars, out October 7, titled This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That, demonstrating a love for pronouns equal to her love for Sleater-Kinney and Melt Banana.

Gang Gang Dance is also celebrating a new album, Saint Dymphna, out October 21 on The Social Registry label, and will have Marnie join them on their Midwest and West Coast dates. Gang Gang Dance brings a "worldbeat" slant to the table without sounding anything like NPR bumper music. Psychedelic, tribal, art-damaged -- many labels are tossed, but ultimately, Gang Gang Dance are one of the very elite groups of musicians who've cultivated a sound that defies categorization. See the rest of GGD's jaunt here.

This is a one-of-a-kind tour, so if a community near you is on this list, you have plans, my friend (no matter who's getting married that day)

11.03.08 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
11.04.08 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
11.05.08 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall
11.07.08 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
11.08.08 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
11.10.08 - Seattle, WA - The Triple Door
11.11.08 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
11.12.08 - Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan
11.14.08 - San Francisco, CA - Bimbo's 365 Club
11.15.08 - Los Angeles, CA - El Ray Theater
11.16.08 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah

Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, Spoon, Others Auction Off Protest Signs for Charity; My Sign Is Now a Coffee Table

Yes, my protest sign is a coffee table, and it also didn't make it into the special Under the Radar Magazine's Summer Protest Issue, but who's counting? (Next year, I will spend more time on my tree disguise.) Artists like The Flaming Lips, Spoon, Built to Spill, Sharon Jones, Shout Out Louds, Les Savy Fav, R.E.M., Chuck D, Talib Kweli, and oh so many more donated their art skills and pretty faces to make up a photographic representation of their various protestations. From the plight of polar bears to paper ballots to health care to the right to live in Woody Guthrie's America, these artists ran the gamut of righteous grievances, and you can check out photos and clips from the issue here.

As if that wasn't dece enough, many of these artists donated their signs to be auctioned off for charity, specifically War Child, an organization working to help children in war-torn areas around the world, which recently announced a compilation benefit CD (TMT News). You can check out the signs up for grabs here, and remember, the auctions begin today!

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band Ruined My Mini Golf Game To Notify Me That They Were Touring

Sarah knelt at the top of the 18th hole, deep in thought.

“I’m going to bank it off the side of the windmill,” she stated. “Gimme the putter.”

“That’s not possible,” I responded. “Ball’s gonna hit the big grizzly bear cutout and end up in that puddle. And, you know, you do need this shot to tie.”

I was happily smirking over my imminent mini-golf triumph.

“Just give me the putter.”

I handed Sarah the club, and she began to carefully lineup her shot. Her eyes widened as she shifted her feet back and forth and aligned her arms so that her hands met in unison at the top of the club. She took a deep breath. Her arms slowly moved backwards, separating the putter and the ball. She brought the club forward--


A scream from behind.

“Shit!” yelled Sarah. Due to her distraction, Sarah had hit the ball right off the grizzly bear and into the puddle, as I predicted. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band had messed up another one of our mini-golf games.

“Come on guys,” she groaned. “This is ridiculous. You just made me lose.”

10.01.08 - Malmo, Sweden - Debaser
10.02.08 - Oslo, Norway - Park Teatret
10.03.08 - Gothenberg, Sweden - Pustervik
10.04.08 - Stockholm, Sweden - Debaser
10.05.08 - Helsinki, Finland - Tavastia
10.08.08 - Riga, Latvia - Grivas Mebeles
10.11.08 - Warsaw, Poland - CRK
10.12.08 - Prague, Czech Republic - Rock Cafe
10.13.08 - Bratislava, Slovakia - A4
10.14.08 - Vienna, Austria - Arena
10.15.08 - Budapest, Hungary - Corvinteto
10.16.08 - Novi Sad, Serbia - Interzona Festival
10.17.08 - Zagreb, Croatia - Teatar ITD
10.18.08 - Ljubljana, Slovenia - Kudfp
10.19.08 - Padova, Italy - Unwound
10.20.08 - Rome, Italy - Circolo Degli Artisti Club
10.23.08 - Firenze, Italy - Festival Della Creativita
10.24.08 - Bologna, Italy - Covo
10.25.08 - Torino, Italy - Spazio 211
10.26.08 - Marseille, France - Cabaret Aleatoire
11.05.08 - Toulouse, France - Le Phare
11.06.08 - Lyon, France - Transbordeur
11.07.08 - Metz, France - Festival Musiques Volantes
11.08.08 - Strasbourg, France - Le Laiterie
11.09.08 - Dijon, France - Le Vapeur


Suddenly, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band disappeared in a flash of blue light.

I grinned. “I guess I win then, huh?”

Wal-Mart: “Always Low Prices, Occasionally Sketchy DRM Practices”; Wal-Mart to Stop Supporting Its DRM Music, Encourages Burning CD-Rs

The music market took an extra large hit this week on Wal-Street, when the value of DRM songs from Wal-Mart began to plummet at a rate not matched since the great Wax Recording Crash when vinyl came along. After it was recently uncovered by economic experts that Wal-mart, who began offering DRM MP3s in August 2007, had been irresponsibly offering customers cheap DRM music that it could not support after the company switched to DRM-free music this past February, music consumers fell into a panic and many analysts began to paint a doomsday picture of the future of digital music.

With little time to spare before the impending crash, frazzled Wal-Mart publicists addressed the panic-stricken nation on the internet, highlighting, in a nutshell, the details of a highly controversial DRM music bailout plan:

As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site. If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer. This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free.

While naysayers of the DRM bailout argue fiercely about "what bullshit" it is to have to burn physical copies of all of their DRM digital music after it has already been bought and paid-for, proponents of Wal-mart's daring and unconventional bailout procedure counter with an insistence that sacrifices must be made if our global music economy hopes to recover from the crippling international stigma of DRM.

"DRM-free digital music is the future of digital downloads," said one particularly attractive proponent who later accompanied this reporter to dinner. "I know that burning CDs to back up all of your old music from Wal-mart is a sacrifice for many, but think about the alternative: without compliance, this music will be lost forever, and the face of digital stores will be permanently and irrevocably damaged on the world stage." My, what pretty words! Isn’t she great!?

Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival Offers Fun, A Good Cause, and a Way to Avoid Old High School Friends Slowly Trickling into Town Pre-Thanksgiving

It seems like there are more and more reasons to make a Chicago roadtrip this fall -- whether you're motivated by a fanatical obsession with late-’80s TGIF offering Perfect Strangers or because you live somewhere that isn't BUT SHOULD BE on the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds autumn tour. And now there's another great entertainment option unique to the Chicago area, with the added bonus of being for a good cause. This would be the indie one-day Chicago Bluegrass and Blues festival, occurring for the very first time this November 22.

Local stalwarts Alligator Records and Bloodshot Records will be repping their shared hood and contributing label stand-outs to the event, held at the Congress Theater. Founder and organizer Mike Raspatello promises a varied line-up, ranging from Waco Brothers side-project Dollar Store to the David Grisman Quintet to the Avett Brothers. A portion of proceeds from the $31 ticket price will go to the Saving Tiny Heart Society, a volunteer-ran organization founded to raise awareness and support research about congenital heart defects. Apart from the positive vibes, there's also a chance to perform alongside the 16 listed performers through the Last Banjo Standing Contest, an online voting-based contest that is not limited to blues or bluegrass genre-based music.

This is a good cause, and a good line-up, so I'm not gonna make the requisite Urkel joke that happens whenever I write a story related to Chicago -- or well, anything. Below you can find the artists involved, minus the TGIF line-up jokes -- for now.

The Avett Brothers, The David Grisman Quintet, Ha Ha Tonka, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Majors Junction, Billy Childers, Dollar Store, Blackdog, Blue Mother Tupelo, How Far to Austin, Mike Mangione, Cobalt & the Hired Guns, The Lindsay O'Brien Band, Jessica Lee, and Blue Room Hero

11.22.08 - Chicago, IL - Congress Theater

Deer Tick Tour, Educate Fans on Tick Bite Prevention

The following is a public service announcement from Providence, Rhode Island’s Deer Tick:

“Attention fans! By now most of you are aware of the ongoing tick problem in this country. We in Deer Tick have decided to spread awareness and educate others about tick bite prevention during our upcoming fall tour. Until the tour starts, however, please read our top three tips below on how to avoid tick bites:

1. Play our debut album, War Elephant, at a deafening volume. It’s a proven fact that ticks hate loud music (and deaf people).
2. Avoid tick-infested places by staying inside on your computer and buying tickets for our shows.
3. If you absolutely must go outside (and you will have to, because you bought tickets to our show), be vigilant and do a daily tick check. Also, wrap yourself in saran wrap and/or tin foil at all times. If any area of your body inadvertently becomes exposed, come back inside and listen to more Deer Tick.

Be safe, everyone! See you in October!


Deer Tick.”

Only you can prevent tick bites:

According to pianist Ian Pace from the academic mailing list Music-Since-1900:

I just heard last night the very sad news that Horatiu Radulescu has died. He had been seriously ill for several months. A fantastic composer of passionate, hallucinatory music, and of vital importance in the history of spectral music. May he rest in piece.

From Wikipedia:

Radulescu was born in Bucharest, where he studied the violin privately with Nina Alexandrescu, a pupil of Enescu, and later studied composition at the Bucharest Academy of Music (MA 1969), where his teachers included Niculescu, Olah and Stroe, some of the leading figures of the newly emerging avant garde (Toop 2001). Upon graduation Radulescu left Romania for the west, and settled in Paris. One of the first works to be completed there (though the concept had come to him in Romania) was Credo for nine cellos, the first work to employ his spectral techniques. This technique "comprises variable distribution of the spectral energy, synthesis of the global sound sources, micro- and macro-form as sound-process, four simultaneous layers of perception and of speed, and spectral scordaturae, i.e. rows of unequal intervals corresponding to harmonic scales".[1] In the early 1970s he attended classes given by Cage, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and Xenakis at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, and by Ferrari and Kagel in Cologne; later, from 1979 to 1981, he studied computer-assisted composition and psycho-acoustics at IRCAM.

- Horaţiu Rădulescu Wikipedia entry
- Horaţiu Rădulescu interview
- Article from Rue89 (in French): "Horatiu Radulescu, le plus inouï des compositeurs, est mort"
- YouTube video: "Das Andere (part 1/3) (1984) Horatiu Radulescu (b. 1942)"

Crystal Antlers Tour, Traditional Antlers Stay Mounted in The Cabins

Long Beach, CA boys Crystal Antlers will be hitting the road soon to show off the exciting sounds from their 2008 EP, an EP so replete with exciting sounds, in fact, that it's seeing a re-release from Touch and Go next month. Judging by their music, these up-and-comers will likely have enough intensity to keep hipsters pumping their fists in venues across the nation for years to come, and it certainly helps that they're finally signed to an established label (TMT News).

If you would like a preview of what Crystal Antlers might throw at you live, head to the band’s MySpace (now in Pepto-Bismol pink), where you can watch videos featuring the often underutilized skill of drum-stick spinning.

Get ready, these guys are going to “bring the noise” and the feedback!