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  •  The EvO:R Street Journal
    An Open Letter On RIAA Copyright Case Against Jammie Thomas-Rasset

    The EvO:R Street Journal
    Editorial statement
    Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist. EVJ delivers controversial points of view, hard-news commentary, Industry Insites, artistic prose and photography and welcomes responses (pro or con), feedback and topic suggestions from readers. If you would like to submit an opinionated article, inspired poem, photo or essay to EVJ, forward all copy to Editor ESJ and put To the Editor in the subject field.

    An Open Letter On RIAA Copyright Case Against Jammie Thomas-Rasset
    A singer-songwriter's point of view on RIAA lawsuits and $80K per song fine against Jammie Thomas-Rasset
    By Pamela Ruby Russell

    [Editor's note: The following open letter by singer-songwriter Pamela Ruby Russell was in response to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black's response to the damages award in the RIAA's copyright case against Jammie Thomas-Rasset.]

    I agree with Ed Black on this one. The inequity of this judgment is appalling. At a time when artists, labels, music outlets and recording execs need all the fans and music/merchandise buyers they can muster, a ruling such as this might only serve to alienate brick and mortar consumers as well as ardent online fans. The one good thing that could come to light out of all this, in a perfect world of course, is the fact that we as artists truly do need fairer and more equitable compensation for our work.

    Perhaps I am naive. You and I know there exists a dire need for reform of protective mechanisms for songwriters' property, but if the record companies weren't so greedy in the first place, re: the real cost of CD's and how they pay their artists, much grief could have been avoided way back "when." I used to work as an assistant buyer for cassettes at the famed Record Hunter on 5th Ave. and 42nd St. in NYC when cassettes had first "arrived" in the marketplace. Technological developments as far as delivering data are great, but there still remains the human element... it is ALWAYS the heart that prompts the sale!!

    I am an photographer and songwriter. Of course, I want to be paid when folks download my tunes and my photos from the internet, but I am sorry... This ruling is disgraceful. It does NOT meet the crime fairly if held up to other crime/punishment ratios. On top of it all, SonyBMG better have a good reason why they only had to pay $150 per end-user for far more egregious offenses. My godfather, Salvatore T. Chiantia, besides living an all too short lifetime dedicated to his love of the music, was Vice President of Leeds Music Co. and President of NMPA. For years, he helped write many of the bylaws set in place to protect songwriters as well as publishers... but I am sure he could never have anticipated what is transpiring now.

    Ethics? Fair play? Over 30,000 lawsuits have been filed against file sharers and this is the one that is supposed to scare everyone off... $1,900,000 for sharing music?... a 32-year-old mother of four? I sincerely hope Ms. Thomas-Rasset appeals this and I hope her legal team of Camara & Sibley does stand by her. And I also hope that bands like Aerosmith and the members of Linkin' Park, et al, think about it and then stand up and demand fairer penalties for file sharers.

    Our rights as musicians, songwriters and publishers deserve protection, but it is important to remember, without the adoring fans and their willingness to buy product, many big name bands would still be playing in divey little bars across the country, no, around the world. In the '60's we fought against our government's use of stealth, muscle and dishonesty, re: the USA's actions during the Viet Nam War, and just about everything else that seemed unfair. We sat around in groups, getting high, or not, listening to the latest records... sharing the experience with our friends, peers, our schoolmates and fellow musicians. Have we forgotten...? That joy!

    Now music is shared in a different way... but the experience of turning a friend, even if they are thousands of miles away on Facebook, an anonymous person on their computer, on to "your tunes" is still how the music gets out!!! Music carried the message. Music was the beacon and showed so many of my generation "the way." That is why Woodstock happened. I was there. It was ALL about sharing. Music has always done that, way before anyone ever had the thought to preserve a single note for posterity OR for prosperity!

    These days, getting affordable "tunes" can be a challenge for many listeners. But it is equally challenging as songwriters to get our songs recorded and out to future fans and consumers and at the same time, get paid fairly by just about everyone who uses us as musicians in the process, as most working bands and songwriters will attest to. It is in no way surprising that so many artists are going the way of the indies. Seems like we need change on all fronts these days. Shouldn't it really be about the music? I know, I am an idealist... but I don't think I am alone.

    Good luck to Ms. Jammie Thomas-Rasset. Good luck to us all. And a message to our courts if you please, let the punishment equal the crime... and that means ALL crime, no matter the color of the collar. Is anyone listening out there? How about a little peace, love and understanding?

    Thank you,
    Pamela Ruby Russell
    An Open Letter On RIAA Copyright Case Against Jammie Thomas-Rasset


    ESJ is looking for writers/poets for our next issues. All work is appreciated and will be published (with the exception of articles containing racism, bigotry or other demeaning topics) Also, this is a PG-13 rating and will be censored if you do not edit it. Please e-mail The EvO:R Street Journal.
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