I try to steer clear of First Life politics here on this blog, because this is supposed to be a Second Life blog, and I have plenty of other outlets for political bloviation. However, an issue has come up which is, as I see it, of critical importance to the Grid as a whole.
Currently pending in the U.S. Senate (S.256) is the “Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM) Act of 2007,” sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). (Link goes to the THOMAS information page for the bill.) The bill’s title says it’s “A bill to harmonize rate setting standards for copyright licenses under section 112 and 114 of title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.” Well, one of those “other purposes” is, apparently, to kill MP3 streaming as we know it.
This analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals the smoking gun: a minor amendment to one paragraph that would require people transmitting major-label music under the statutory license (i.e. almost everybody who does so today) to use Digital Restrictions Management that would keep people from recording the stream. That means no more open formats like MP3 and Ogg, which don’t contain DRM. And all in the name of protecting the outdated business model–and obscene profits–of the RIAA and its ilk.
The implication for Second Life is obvious and all too chilling. Right now, “parcel music URLs” in SL are MP3 or Ogg streams…and a lot of SL’s culture, from its clubs to its live DJs to the entire live music scene, depends on those streams. Let them be made illegal in the U.S., and all of that would be cast aside in an instant. True, U.S. law wouldn’t affect all those of you outside the U.S., but consider two possibilities:
- Your own country could pass similar law, under pressure from the U.S. government, the RIAA, or similar associations. Bam, you’re in the same fix.
- Since Linden Lab is a U.S. company, what if they decide–or are forced–to remove the “parcel music URL” feature from SL altogether, lest they be accused of “contributory infringement”?
So, if you’d like to see the thriving music scene in SL continue, rather than be cut off at the knees, you might want to write your Senators (or any U.S. Senators, for you non-U.S. folks) and urge them to kill the PERFORM act. Don’t let the greedy record-company executives silence people like Frogg & Jaycatt, Cylindrian Rutabaga, Mel Cheeky, and all the myriad other SL musicians for the sake of their six-martini lunches, their limos and Learjets full of pneumatic blonde bimbos, and their bulging wallets.
The EFF has an action page here, which will help you send the message to your Senators.
(Hat tip: Jamie Zawinski, of the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.)