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An open response to an IFPI board member

Recently, when a counterclaim was filed by Ms. Del Cid against the RIAA containing allegations of Trespass, Computer Fraud and Abuse, Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, Civil Extortion, and Civil conspiracy, we published a short editorial on our perception of the unfolding events. Del Cid's allegations are quite serious; in her and her lawyer's view the RIAA broke serious criminal statutes while amassing evidence for their case.

Our editorializing seems to have ruffled the feathers of an IFPI executive who is now threatening action, not against us, but against another blog who simply linked to our piece. In an effort to quell what Paul Birch of Revolver Records calls, "malicious statements and blogs on the internet" he has threatened Andrew Dubber of the blog New Music Strategies with veiled words about lawsuits, and by directly threatening to file a formal complaint against him with the University of Central England, Dubber's employer. All because in the course of discussion on the topic Andrew Dubber's blog follows exclusively he felt it relevant to link to something we wrote.

Shame on you Mr. Birch.

We may not like hot dogs Mr. Birch. However, when we see someone eating one we don't attempt to knock it out of his hand, we simply continue to eat our hamburger and remind ourselves that the hot dog eater is free to hold whatever belief, preference or opinion he wishes. If the juicy hamburger of opinion we attempted to share with our readers offends you, you have every right to say so. Threatening the career of another human being who shares our distaste for hot dogs is unethical and wrong. Just as it would be if we slapped the hot dog from your hand.

The defendant in this case has every right to file counterclaim against your sister organization, the RIAA and we have every right to offer opinion on that counterclaim. Andrew Dubber has every right to link to our opinion in the course of conversation. These are all luxuries we enjoy and obligations we undertake as members of an advanced and free society. You also have the legal right to complain to anyone about whatever you deem worthy of complaint; Ethically and professionally however, you've planted yourself on rather shaky ground.

Let me make perfectly clear; We'd do it again. I've personally followed the RIAA/BPI/IFPI's litigious nonsense for years, writing many widely read and well respected articles on the subject. I've never, nor has anyone who writes for this blog, made any threatening statements -- as Paul Birch claims -- or given more than opinion from the perspective of a music fan, computer expert and hobby-grade legal analyst. RIAA lawsuits are a subject we feel passionate about; Not because we support widespread and rampant piracy but because we are dedicated to individuals like ourselves who increasingly come under attack from corporate interests, and the erosion of fair use rights. We firmly believe that the RIAA's legal tactics are unfair, advantageous and despicable, and we know quite well the stories of lives which have been torn apart financially and, emotionally by their incorrectly aimed "scattergun" approach to legal action.

If Paul Birch would like to discuss how he feels we've been wrong -- how we've "singled out RIAA management" for malicious statements -- we welcome his inquiry. I'd personally love to discuss the concept of malice with a high-ranking executive in the music business.

Paul, you can personally reach me, Grant Robertson, the Lead Blogger of Download Squad by email or through our comment system. I look forward to your reply.

Update: Andrew Dubber's blog has gone off-line for reasons which are still unclear. Jon Newton of P2Pnet has republished the email exchange between Dubber and Birch in full, Thanks Jon!

Tags: analysis, BPI, IFPI, lawsuits, legal action, LegalAction, news, piracy, RIAA