The Riff - August 2007

Piracy Prevention Reaching New Heights

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 4:47 PM EDT

Illegal piracy has been around for quite some time, but alarm over the issue has increased dramatically with the rise in downloading and sharing capabilities. Students and young people are often targeted as the most likely culprits. It appears, though, that stern letters and a shaken finger from a parent or official aren't taking care of the situation, and some are taking the matter into their own hands.

One solution attempted by the film industry is that Los Angeles boy scouts are now able to earn a copyright patch by watching public service announcements about copyright violations, touring movie studios to find out how piracy can harm people, and identifying types of copyrighted works and ways they can be stolen.

And the government has their own scheme. Universities will soon have to submit annual reports to the U.S. Education Department on illegal downloading. Punishment for the worst offenders? Decreased government funding.

What ever happened to the days of a good old-fashioned fine?

—Anna Weggel

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M.I.A. Track Review Correction: Hooray for Bollywood

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 2:53 PM EDT

mojo-photo-discodancer.jpgIn my recent rundown of the new M.I.A. album Kala, I said track four, "Jimmy," sounded like Boney M; turns out I was both way off and weirdly close. The track is in fact a spot-on cover of "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja," by Parvati Khan and Mithun Chakravarty, off the soundtrack to the 1982 Bollywood musical "Disco Dancer." Actually, it pretty much sounds like M.I.A. just sampled the whole song and sang over it. The reason it was confusing to me is probably because both this and Boney M were huge in Russia—er, the Soviet Union—back in the '80s and '90s. By the way, how weird is Russia's obsession with super-gay disco? Army of Lovers, anyone? That song was inescapable back in 1990 when I was studying over there, and it's basically like full-on trannies covering "Haveinu Shalom Alleihem." Seriously. Anyway, like most Bollywood stuff, "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" is super super duper awesome, and you can buy it on iTunes, watch the video below, or grab an mp3 at Gorilla vs. Bear who tipped me off on all this.

"Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" from "Disco Dancer"

Start Composing Your Own Background Music, Bar Owners

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 11:34 AM EDT

mojo-photo-ascap.JPGIn a move that says to the world, "no, of course we're not desperate and fearful, as our industry crumbles around us," music-licensing group ASCAP is now going after bars, clubs and restaurants that play any of the over 8 million songs by artists they represent without paying appropriate fees. ASCAP have apparently sued over two dozen venues recently who have failed to pay their royalties. Of course, legally, ASCAP is right: if I charge people $5 to come listen to the new U2 CD, it sure seems like that's money U2 should get. Since, you know, they need more money. But business owners often pay music services for chatter-free background tunes; is that different from just turning on the radio? Most amusing is this statement from Vincent Candilora, ASCAP senior vice president for licensing: "As long as it's [played] outside a direct circle of friends and family, it is considered a public performance." So, how many friends and family can I have before it's not considered a "direct circle?" We need friendship guidelines!