For a recording industry with a broken business model, last week's guilty plea by three men to music piracy was a pyrrhic victory that will cost the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) dearly.
Hoping for a world-first precedent to deter kids from illegally copying music, ARIA and its wholly-owned pet Doberman named MIPI (Music Industry Piracy Investigations Pty Ltd) were made to look like amateur, pea-brained thugs intent on standing over the demographic they so need buy their products.
ARIA says Internet music piracy robs thousands of artists of their income every year-yet they have done little to move with the times other than attempt to thwart new technology.
Make no mistake: ARIA does not represent the interests of the artists they claim to, but rather a festering clique of fat, moribund labels so averse to new media the most innovative thing they can come up with is which brand of cola their army of cosmetically enhanced R&B clones sucks on.
You don't hear Public Enemy's Chuck D demanding kids go to jail. You hear Chuck warning that vested business interests are perpetrating a stranglehold on artists that they have fleeced for decades. Digital media now allows artists to bypass both the production and distribution models that kept the members of the RIAA and ARIA rich for years. Just ask Eminem about cultural hegemony.
MIPI's publicity seeking stunts in Australia have scorched everyone who touches them. From the police to the DPP and even Telstra. This is an exceptional achievement for a one-man-band: for MIPI is Michael Speck and his subsidised shingle in a low-rent part of the city, pumping out foul hysteria to any who will listen.
So badly burned are the Federal Police they will not utter MIPI's name on the record after their letterhead went on a claims so statistically outrageous that WMD looks like a sunday school picnic. Now the Commonwealth DPP do not trust ARIA, with the two sledging each other in front of the judiciary over sentencing in their trophy case.
Speck is now an albatross for ARIA, who have little choice now but to admit to a bad choice of rent-a-cop and jettison him forthwith-not that this will improve their crippled business model. You can burn some of the people some of the time…