So my Wednesday politics post isn’t about national politics this time. It isn’t about local politics. It’s about something that a lot of people don’t even realize is political. I actually had a post about politics ready to go. I had found something that got my ire up and I wanted to speak on it but then today something happened that broke my heart and I decided I had to post about this and that my other topic can wait.
As most folks who know me outside of this blog can attest to I am very vocal about intellectual property especially as it relates to music. And as everyone who reads this blog or ever hears me talk about music knows I am a huge fan of Lucero. I have done an intro to their music just to turn more people on to them. I have met them, partied with them in more than one state, and talked about all sorts of crap. I am a fanboy when it comes to Lucero and while I might should be ashamed of that I am not. Today I had my heart broken.
Let me start at the beginning. 1372 Overton Park is their first release on a major label, Universal to be exact, and with my feelings about the major players in the music industry being what they are this was a hard pill to swallow. But I remembered Ben told me that they would never sign a deal that made them be anything aside from what they were so I figured that whatever the boys put pen to paper and agreed to wouldn’t change the basic band or the fans. To be clear the album is amazing. I pre-ordered it, had the leak before anyone else I know, and love it as much as any other Lucero album. I had to say that because I didn’t want anyone to think that the music the boys are making is anything less than the amazing music they have always made and what I am about to say may have given that impression. When my CD arrived yesterday I was not happy. On the packaging there are two visible FBI PIRACY WARNINGS visible and on the CD itself there is yet another. I figured this was just Universal and being that it’s Lucero and they have always encouraged people to share their music like I did with the intro that it was just the record company shaking their junk. I was wrong. Early this morning the other site I write for received a takedown notice for the two songs posted, as is the custom there, after the review. Autopsy IV replaced them with live versions so the songs are still there technically but not the versions you hear on the album.
I will never purchase another album from Lucero. I will buy merch at the shows, and I will go see them live, but I will never send another penny of my money to the corporation who now controls their music. It breaks my heart to say that but for me this is a clear cut abuse of copyright. The songs were obviously posted as part of commentary on a site which has no advertisements and does not charge for anything. This is not commercial use and being as that the songs are part of the commentary it is obviously fair use. The abuse of fair use that the system allows is disgusting. The DMCA, in the manner in which it is enforced, provides for no fair use which is a violation of the Berne Convention at the least and morally wrong to boot.
As an old man I shouldn’t have heroes. I shouldn’t. But I do and Lucero were some of them. Since they now allow a record company, a dues paying member of the RIAA, to control their music they have lost that status. You may not feel this is political but when these companies take laws meant to prosecute people duplicating CD/DVDs/etc for profit and use them against everyday people who made the mistake of sharing files and get settlements worth millions against people who make half of what I do and it’s upheld by the courts it becomes political. So it is with heavy heart that I write that I have lost some of my last heroes and will not ever purchase their music again. I can’t help but love the music and I will see them live and most likely still buy merch and I will surely buy the band drinks but they have burned a bridge that I am pretty sure they won’t try to go back down.
For a band that got as big as they by their fans sharing their music with others and then to have them do this is unconscionable. I cannot comprehend it. I plan to try and get time before their show here in town and do an interview with the boys and ask the questions this raises. I hope they don’t know what is happening or at the very least don’t approve. But I won’t know until I ask. Right now it feels like they have sold out and I hate saying that with every bone in my body. I didn’t think they sold out when they had their music used in Cold Case or One Tree Hill, I didn’t think they sold out because this album seems more radio friendly because it sound like a natural progression, but when the takedown notices fly then I can only conclude that they have sold out. And that my dear readers breaks my heart.
I might should have posted more links to copyright abuse stuff but you can find enough on TechDirt to satisfy your curiosity as well as many explanations on why tactics like this don’t work and only hurt the band in question in the long run. I love my boys but I hope this deal crashes and burns so there is nothing left to identify in the remains and the boys go back to making music and encouraging their fans to share it. I will be buying music from Suburban Home in the meantime. In fact I am going to post this and go sign up for access to their digital catalog for life. First off because it’s a great deal and secondly because Virgil doesn’t give the RIAA a dime. I urge you all to boycott this album from Lucero and any further releases of theirs on Universal. I hate to say that, I really do, but for me this is a moral issue and I cannot stand by and be silent.