Major Labels

RIAA backs new group claiming to represent independent artists [Op-Ed]

Mike Masnick looks at the RIAA backed group, the Digital Creators Coalition, an organization that claims to represent the interests of independent artists while acting as a lobby for some of the industry’s largest gatekeepers.

Op-Ed by Mike Masnick of Techdirt

A few days ago, a friend asked if I’d ever heard of the “Digital Creators Coalition,” an apparently new group that claimed to be representing independent artists. I was unfamiliar with it, and its website provided basically no information about who was actually behind it, beyond this vague statement on its “who we are” page:

The Digital Creators Coalition (DCC) is a group of associations, companies and organizations that represent individual creators, independent producers, small-and-medium-size enterprises (SMEs), large businesses, and labor organizations from the American creative communities. We contribute significantly to U.S. GDP, exports and employment – collectively employing or representing millions of American creators, and contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

Right… but… uh… who? There’s no named staff. There’s nothing that shows who these associations, companies, and organizations actually are. Though, if you click through on the website to their “comments” page, it takes you to two separate letters that were sent nearly a year ago to negotiators trying to sort out a US-UK trade agreement, asking for the most extreme versions of copyright possible, including copyright term extension, secondary liability on websites that host content, no language on “balance” or “fair use” (yes, they explicitly say neither term should be mentioned). It’s insanity.

Of course, that letter also reveals who they are, and it’s a who’s who of industry associations that lobby for the interests of the largest gatekeepers, and not, as the organization’s website suggests, small and independent creators:

I mean, you’ve got basically all the copyright maximalist extremist groups there: the RIAA, the MPA, the Author’s Guild, Creative Future, the Recording Academy, ASCAP, SoundExchange, NMPA, the IIPA. Not surprisingly, but incredibly disappointing is that the News Media Alliance is there. The News Media Alliance used to be the Newspaper Association of America, and, as such, you’d think would be supportive of free speech and the 1st Amendment. Considering how much newspapers rely on fair use, you’d think it would be odd that they’re now against fair use. But, over the past few years, the leaders of the News Media Alliance have become so obsessed and infatuated with “GOOGLE BAD!” that apparently they have no problem throwing their lot in with copyright maximalists against their own members’ interests. The organization literally came out against fair use a few years ago, and has since become just as bad (in some ways worse!) than some of the other organizations here.

But, just as if to prove that this group has nothing to do with small and independent creators, and is just a front for the big gatekeepers who screw over small and independent creators, the RIAA itself put out a press release announcing this group’s official launch. Oh, and in case there was any doubt who is really behind this group, a simple whois lookup on who registered the website reveals all:

Yup. This organization set up to supposedly support small and independent artists… was literally set up by the RIAA itself.

This would be the same RIAA whose chairman and CEO’s key claim to fame is that while he was a Congressional staffer, he snuck four words into an unrelated bill that literally would take the copyrights from artists and give them to record labels. No one realized he had done this until after it was passed and became law, at which point, the RIAA immediately hired him, and where he’s moved up the ranks until he was in charge. This move set off a huge fight with tons of artists screaming about how the RIAA had actually “stolen” their copyrights out from under them, and Congress had to go in and fix this.

That’s who’s protecting the interests of small and independent creators? Don’t make me laugh.

This is also the same RIAA made up of the major labels who have a long and detailed history of screwing over some of its biggest artists through creative accounting (the only thing the RIAA really does that is creative) to make sure it never needs to pay artists and to keep them tied to the system. These are not the friends of independent artists.

Notice who is not a part of this coalition? Any of the companies who have made it possible for actual small and independent artists to make, distribute, promote, build an audience, and make a living these days. No Apple. No YouTube. No TikTok. No Kickstarter. No Patreon. No Spotify. No Bandcamp. No Substack. Odd, isn’t it? Then again, maybe not.

But seeing as this group is now officially “launched” you can expect to see a bunch of bullshit quotes from them that gullible reporters will repeat without question, saying that it’s a group to support artists. Don’t believe them. This is an organization to support the copyright maximalism of groups that have spent decades screwing over independent artists.

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