RIAA Updates Parental Advisory Labels

Announced August 25, effective October 1 and purported to be long in the works, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) revised its warning guidelines for music deemed to contain "explicit" lyrical content. "Voluntarily" adopted by the recording industry in the mid-'80s after Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center brought their battle over explicit lyrics to the nation's capital, the RIAA feels the widely used black and white "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" labels alone are not doing a good enough job of informing parents if the material is suitable for children, especially in regard to online music purchases. Says the RIAA's Amy Weiss: "We are strong believers in an artist's rights, an artist's freedom of expression, but we're also believers in giving parents a tool to make informed decisions about what their children are listening to."

The RIAA is now recommending that the label appear at every point of an online purchase that a "stickered" album is referenced: "from search results to the shopping cart." As well, the RIAA is calling for all advertisements of explicit albums to include the advisory sticker and inform consumers when edited versions of the album are available; for record stores to display posters explaining what the warning labels mean; and for online retailers to provide links to the Parental Media Guide, which further explains the RIAA's policy.

The RIAA furthered that their new advisory guidelines are not about censorship. And we all believe them. Really...

Rage Against the Machine Bassist Disrupts MTV Awards

While Limp Bizkit were accepting their award for Best Rock Video last month during MTV's 2000 Video Music Awards in New York City and wowing viewers across the globe with their deft mastery of the English language, overhead on a 15-foot high stage prop Rage Against the Machine bassist YtimK (Tim Commerford) was swaying back and forth, generally (and thankfully) disrupting things. "Holy shit!" Bizkit frontman Fred Durst was heard to say, along with a few other expletives (see above mention of "deft mastery of the English language"). The Awards quickly cut to commercial while several dozen stagehands and security officers tried to persuade the bassist (who we've now dubbed "Spidey") to come down. Ladders were brought out and when Commerford hit the floor, security allegedly hit him and Rage bodyguard Big Pete before arresting both for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Commerford spent the night in the pokey and pleaded guilty the following morning to the charges and was released on time served.

The next morning, Rage guitarist Tom Morello phoned into Los Angeles radio station KROQ to explain Spidey's actions: "I think he was whipped into that fervor by all the Slim Shadys and Britney Spears' version of 'Satisfaction.'" Morello went on to call security's handling of the incident a "total overreaction by house security and undercover cops." And this surprises anyone?

Mark Chapman Up for Parole

Almost twenty years after murdering John Lennon outside his New York City residence and in front of Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, and son Sean [Lennon], Mark David Chapman's parole board will be meeting on October 3 to determine if the convicted murderer should be set free. If found eligible for parole, Chapman could be released by the end of this year. Chapman, who is purported to be a model prisoner at New York's Attica State Prison, says that he's found religion and wants to be a revivalist minister, blames his father for not giving him enough love as a child, accepts responsibility for what he did and believes Lennon himself would want to see him free. "I think he would care, I think he would probably want to see me released."

But experts agree that Chapman will probably never be released, and Yoko Ono has reportedly sent a very emotional letter to the State parole board asking that he be kept behind bars, fearing for her safety, as well as the safety Lennon's two sons, Sean and Julian Lennon (who is from Lennon's first marriage). Apparently Chapman has had reoccurring dreams where he visits Ono's Manhattan residence and is warmly accepted and felt loved. "I've had that dream several times. To me, that's guilt, but that was a while ago. I haven't had those dreams in a long time."

Chapman claims Christ has changed him and the demonic voices that drove him to kill Lennon in the first place have forever been banished. "I could never dream of hurting another person that way now. It's not going to happen. It's just not going to happen." As to what he'd do if released: "I'd try just to lead an ordinary life again. Stay out of the papers. There's not many places to go once you've killed someone like John Lennon."


Judge fines MP3.com $250 Million

On September 6, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that MP3.com intentionally violated music copyright law with its My.MP3.com music database and ordered the online music site to pay Universal Music Group what could potentially be $250 million in damages. MP3.com had already settled with the industry's other label biggies earlier in the summer, but UMG pushed to take the issue to trial.

The center of all this is My.MP3.com, a free online service through MP3.com that allowed visitors to upload their CD collection onto the My.MP3.com database where they could again download a song or album for listening on any computer with an Internet connection. The biggies, along with the RIAA, claimed that the service infringed on music copyright, and in his ruling Judge Rakoff awarded UMG $25,000 for every CD in the My.MP3.com database, stating that he could have awarded up to $150,000 per CD, but decided to go nice on MP3.com as they had been more "responsible" than other online music portals (we assume he was referring to Napster). UMG lawyers originally asked for $450 million in damages and claimed that upwards of 10,000 were uploaded to My.MP3.com. However, MP3.com puts that number at 4,700.

MP3.com plans to appeal, stating: "While we respect the court, we disagree with the court's decision and we look forward to taking our case to the Court of Appeals."

Courtney Love Demands Awarded Money in My.MP3.com Case

Further earning our respect (yes, the times they are a changin'), Courtney Love, an outspoken critic of the music industry business, said she intends to ask a court to fine Universal for stealing her music and not handing down any of the money it will receive in its case against MP3.com. Love's logic is easy to follow: Industry representatives have repeatedly said in and out of court that services like MP3.com and Napster are robbing directly from artists whose livelihood is directly based on record sales and licensing fees. Seagram (Universal's parent company) CEO Edward Bronfman, Jr. was quoted on the Seagram website as saying: "We will fight for our rights and those of our artists, whose work, whose creations, whose property are being stolen and exploited."

But, according to Love, neither Seagram nor Universal plan on handing over any of the windfall they stand to receive, and have only used the plight of artists' "hard work and creativity" as a means of winning in court. Love posted on an online music forum: "They're claiming that Internet file downloads are covered by the same license as, ahem, 'record clubs,' and thus we are owed nothing. I call this racketeering and so should you."

You might remember that Love recently gave a commencement speech denouncing the music industry's parasitic approach to business and an artist's "hard work and creativity" (read Courtney Love Does the Math).

Universal had no comment on Love's allegations.

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Ozzy to Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame: "It's a Joke"

Once again Ozzy Osbourne, the godfather of metal, has asked that Black Sabbath's nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame be removed from consideration. "Why don't they let the fans vote? As it is now, what's the point? It's a joke. It's about glad-handing and grandstanding, and I don't want any part of it." Readers may recall that Ozzy had similar feelings when Black Sabbath was up for nomination last year. "Just take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it's not voted on by the fans. It's voted on by the 'supposed' elite of the Industry and the Media, who've never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is totally irrelevant to me. Let's face it, Black Sabbath have never been media darlings. We're a people's band and that suits us just fine."

American Medical Student Association to Hold Candelight Vigil for the Uninsured

For those of you in the New York City area, the American Medical Student Association--along with Physicians for a National Health Program--are holding a candlelight vigil on October 18 at New York's Bellevue Hospital to raise awareness to the ongoing plight of the uninsured across America.

While the Census Bureau recently released statistics showing the number of uninsured Americans was, after an eleven year rise, down to 42.6 million, a reduction of 1.7 million from 1998, coordinator Lori Choi writes: "The other 42 million-plus people who are still uninsured, mostly the working poor, as well as the medical community that serves them, are not satisfied with this incremental crawl towards coverage."

Let's not forget that those 42 million include many in the music community who either can't afford adequate coverage or aren't offered coverage by their labels (for those "lucky" enough to be on a label). Basic medical coverage should be a basic right and you can help those in the medical community who are sponsoring this vigil by showing up and letting your presence be counted and your voice be heard.

For more information contact: choil@suny.hscbklyn.edu or desaim02@popmail.med.nyu.edu.

Click here for the event flyer.

Seattle Mayor Vetoes All Ages Dance Ordinance

After over a year of research by the Youth and Music Task Force--who sought input from parents, police, clubs and community groups--the Seattle City Council voted 7 to 1 on August 21 to pass the All Ages Dance Ordinance, replacing the draconian Teen Dance Ordinance, the current law governing all ages music and dances in Seattle which was widely regarded on all sides as being ineffectual (with the exception of City Prosecutor Mark Sidran, whose work over the years "cleaning up" Seattle on behalf of big business--whose only interest is finding slicker ways to entice well-manicured people and their money clips into the downtown retail core--has earned him the nickname "Darth Sidran"). The AADO would eliminate age restrictions, ease insurance requirements, make hiring security other than off-duty police officers possible and require promoters to obtain a license. All sides of the debate spent a lot of hard, honest and earnest time crafting something that would work for everyone...and something that supposedly was supported by the mayor's office.

However, on August 24, Seattle City Mayor Paul Schell--with almost no advance warning--vetoed the bill, instead proposing a number of amendments that would, in effect, return the TDO to the books. When later questioned in an interview about his veto, Schell admitted to not even having read the AADO in its entirety, instead basing his decision on advice from members of the police department and the City Attorney's office (see above comment, Re: "Darth Sidran"). You might remember that this is the same Seattle mayor who helped bring us the WTO and ensuing debacle. [Click here to read the Earpollution editorial]

Mayor Schell's veto was not taken kindly. At a City Council meeting shortly thereafter, former Nirvana bassist and JAMPAC (Joint Artists and Music Promotions Political Action Committee) leader Krist Novoselic--in an audience that included Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Death Cab for Cutie and representatives from NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences)--urged council members to overturn Schell's veto. But even though a number of council members appeared to want to overturn the veto and keep the AADO on the books, it was widely acknowledged that it probably wouldn't happen as it was not "politically expedient" for them to go against a mayoral veto.

At their Bumbershoot performance [see eP's Bumbershoot 2000 profile], Juno frontman Arlie Carstens eloquently informed the mixed ages audience on what happened, what the differences between the two ordinances were and what exactly it means to those involved in the local all ages scene. He ended his speech by saying, "I don't want to say 'Fuck you' to Paul Schell...actually, I do." At which point he got the entire audience to yell "Fuck you, Paul Schell!" in front of cameras that were streaming the performance over the Internet and around the globe. Death Cab for Cutie did something similar during their set (which followed Juno's). Member Ben Gibbard pulled out his cell phone, dialed Schell's office and roused the audience once again to shout "Fuck you!"

Mayor Schell, who empowered the Youth Music and Task Force with coming up with a solution to the Teen Dance Ordinance, deserves every bit of disrespect he has received. With a stroke of the pen he single-handedly trashed months of hard work that led to a feasible agreement by those involved on all sides of the issue. He went against what he said he would support, he went against an overwhelming city council vote of approval, he went against the voice of his constituents and of the majority--something commonly referred to around here as "democracy."

Earpollution would like to join all those whose hard work was arrogantly ignored and cheaply disregarded by Mayor Schell's unbelievable lack of respect for his constituents and the democratic process by saying:

Fuck you, Paul Schell! Bozo...

You too can voice your protest by e-mailing the mayor's office at: Mayors.Office@ci.seattle.wa.us, or dialing: 206-684-4000.

Craig Young
Editor, Earpollution

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