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Rapp on THIS

by The Staff on July 28, 2011

To the Editor:

Last week [July 21], there was a letter to the editor about my July 13 column [“Six Tries and You’re, Um, Well,” Rapp on This]. Typically, Metroland gives writers the opportunity to provide a contemporaneous response, which would have really been nice as the letter got personal and nasty. But it didn’t happen, Metroland apologized and all’s well.

The tenor of the letter was that I don’t take the threat of Big Media companies seriously enough, or something. The article in question, wasn’t, as writer Andrew Hough suggests, an attempt to describe “the current issues regarding copyright.” This article described in some detail the latest “anti-piracy” enforcement plans of the RIAA and MPAA, which include for the first time the active cooperation of internet service companies. I opined that the new plan is stupid, just like the RIAA and MPAA’s past anti-piracy efforts have been. And I suggested they won’t work. But I noted that people will likely be harmed, as they have been in the past. I know. I’ve represented lots of them.

The writer states that the RIAA and MPAA “policies are very well thought out and very effective.” Oh, really? Suing Napster instead of embracing it? That went well, it caused file-sharing to decentralize and grow; now 12 years later the labels are allowing Spotify do almost exactly what Napster wanted to do. Suing thousands of their own customers? That failed while enraging millions. Now they’re going to try to choke off folks’ internet connections? Uh-huh. If these policies were so great, why are Big Media companies dying on the vine? Why are the major labels crumbling?

The writer felt a need to crudely insult me because I didn’t deliver a tome on the dangerous intersection of copyright law, technology, freedom, and corporate hegemony. If Hough had any familiarity with my column, he would have known that this is exactly what I have been writing about, in 800 word bites, every other week for over seven years. If he had bothered to investigate me before shooting his mouth off, he’d have learned that this what I teach at the university and law school levels, and informs a big part of what I do for a living as a lawyer. He might have learned that no, I don’t ignore or discount the evils of Big Media. I write about it, I lecture about it, I go head to head with it court, and I’ve personally experienced its effects both as a lawyer and an artist.

Paul Rapp

Housatonic, Mass.