Friday, June 10, 2005

RIAA vs. Kim's NYC - breaking news

According to word on the street, undercover cops bought a mixtape at Kim's Video (NYC, St. Mark's place) and then came back and raided the place. Rumors of arresting all on duty at the time.. managers included... I-Sound, should we be worried? - the NYTimes says yes. Apparently he was one of the ones taken away in cuffs. damn. Can the EFF get up in his defense? And anyway, wouldn't the employer be vicariiously liable for actions of employees? As far as I know that fits the definition of vicarious liability.. seems a bit harsh that the underlings (or even managers) should spend the night in jail (is that true?) if the store doesn't stop it and it makes the store money.. it's unofficial or official policy. Or is it supposed to be like those punk-ass pharmacists? Is the RIAA trying to instill a crisis of fear of conscience in record store employees (lotsa luck on that one): "no no, my conscience won't allow me to sell you that mixtape, even though it's on offer here in the store and you want to buy it."

MTV confirms

NY Times, later on the draw than MTV, points out that the police siezed: "nine computer towers, a CD burner, a laptop computer, 471 compact disks and 53 videos."

whose laptop was that, I wonder? and nine computer towers? that's a lot of information. What happens to the other, non-"piracy" related information on there? Is it still private or can they rummage through it all? Of course they can, and they will if they want to, but I wonder if after the fact legal action would have anything to say on that?

MTV quotes Brad Buckles, a man with a name like the protagonist of a TV show about a lovable dog, also "executive vice president of anti-piracy" for the RIAA :"The New York City Police Department's steadfast commitment to the fight against piracy has stamped out yet another significant illegal operation,"

Kim's may be significant in getting these mixtapes to a white population, which may in fact be significant in terms of marketing hiphop for big bucks, but I do doubt that this is really so significant or a center of the "urban" (as the article calls it) music industry.

Buckles continues "With actions such as these, New York City law enforcement continues to send a strong message to music pirates that this behavior simply will not be tolerated. Retailers who are making money on the backs of musicians and record companies by selling pirated CDs should know that this is absolutely no way to conduct a business."

What I want to know is, why doesn't lightning strike these people? This is why I can't watch the news, or our government officials talking. I'm a literal sort, when I'm not a literary sort or occasionally a symbolic sort, but either way I heat up when logic and consistency are spit on, even if it's no surprise.

A representative of the RIAA and the major labels saying that "making money on the backs of musicians" is no way to run a business."?

A capitalist saying making money on the backs of other people is no way to run a business? isn't that, actually, how you run a business, at the industry level?

Add to that, the tapes include 50 Cent tunes, a good example of an artist whom many credit with rising to popularity/notoreity through mixtapes, which, if places like Kim's didn't sell them, would not have propelled him to fame (assuming he wasn't just groomed by a crew of handlers, or at least not only groomed by a crew of handlers).

MTV makes a hint at honesty by linking to an article at the end, saying: "For a full-length feature on the role of mixtapes in the music industry, check out "Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry." Which is clearly the least you can say, that it is another industry, or another level of the existing industry. certainly more honest than whatever it is the RIAA is saying this week. Actually, the whole article is about the importance of mixtapes to finding new talent, to marketing, to "street cred," to whatever else you can think of. No mention in the article on these recent events that Kim's provides an important service to artists in getting that sound out.
I can't really speak for the hiphop, but Kim's is still crucial to supporting so many underground sounds, they provide an incredible (if surly) service to so many musicians who can't get heard or get their sound out elsewhere. I know so many artists who have walked in with their own records and sold a few to Kim's managers who have turned round and made'em available to wondering searchers.. that place gets karma points forever, and Buckles has the nerve to get all righteous about this shit? When will we all be able to collectively tell the RIAA to fuck right off and let us get along with living music?

the image of a crew of cops storming that dilapidated bunker and arresting its sullen genies...

man, in this day and age, threats of bio-warfare, terrorism from white supremacists and anti-abortionists from here as well as whoever else from abroad, and whatever the heck else NY has to worry about besides the impending petroleum shortage and falling into the rising oceans or drowning under a tide of garbage... anyway glad to see the police force is paid to carry out such key work that makes quality of life better for .. for who exactly?

Should I just be glad they're not killing unarmed black men, deporting arab folk, or busting up and abusing protestors?

no, no that's not enough. The backlash needs to start now. Artists, music lovers, this shit is got to stop.


  1. total blackout on all media associated with RIAA, MPAA and other Draconian corporations. thanks for sharing this story and your words Ripley, it really got to me.

  2. Respectfully, Kim's is to blame. They are *shady* dude. Have you seen their Asian DVD section? A full 80% of it is straight up bootlegs, and we are talking about movies still playing in JP/SK that end up in there.

    I have zero sympathy for Kims.

    Is the RIAA/MPAA out of control? Yes. Are they cynical vampires latched onto the necks of musicians while claiming to have their best interests in mind? Of course they are.

    But Kim's is the last place on earth that deserves our sympathy for this bust.

    So its a tough call; the whole reality of 'make a mix tape, go to jail' is beyond sickening and warrants immediate, lethal uprisings around the planet.

    However, Kim's is a notorious violator of artists rights and seriously deserves to catch a far more serious case than selling mix tapes, so Im hesitent to say this is as cut and dried a situation as your post implies.


  3. kim's had been a good place to buy white-label bootlegs of breakbeat hardcore classics

    very good for grime, if you're into that sound (and i know ripley is)

    also good for finding the "psychedelic sounds" of brazil, asia, africa, etc, reissue compilations

    soul-jazz compilations, etc

    but yeah, the word on mr. kim is that he's a dodgey businessman who fucks over his employees -- not sure if that's true, but so goes the hearsay

  4. you know, thats the real tragedy of it all; they did have an incredibly eclectic selection of music and film, but instead of being happy with that, they had to try to cash in on mix tapes and bootlegs.

    vinyl boots i can understand, thats just a necessary part of the dj biz.. but kims was way too big to be selling mix tapes and bootleg dvds (for 20$ a pop may i add for absolute shite quality).