HITS Daily Double
"Just because Chuck D wants to give away his product doesn’t that mean that all artists should be forced to give away theirs.”


Think of It as a Virtual Celebrity Death Match Between Chuck D and Don Henley

On March 1, an informal coalition of artists including Public Enemy leader Chuck D, Steve Winwood and Jason Mraz submitted a filing that urged the Supreme Court not to hold peer-to-peer operations like Grokster and Kazaa responsible for the illegal actions of millions of users (see story). P2P, they argue, is a legitimate avenue of exposure for artists who’ve been disenfranchised by the mainstream music business. Mraz went further in the filing, claiming that half of those who pay to see him in concert found out about him through illegal downloading. Later on Tuesday, the Recording Artists Coalition issued an official response, which is digitally reproduced below with no generation loss. Thank you.

In a surprising move today, a very small number of recording artists have publicly aligned themselves with those filing Supreme Court briefs in favor of Grokster and other unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services. While the Recording Artists’ Coalition (RAC) supports the right of any recording artist to freely express his/her opinion in public, it is unfortunate when artists are seduced into believing that unauthorized P2P systems benefit our society and artists’ careers.

These artists have naively accepted the dishonest argument made by partisan advocates of P2P services that artists rallying against Grokster are actually against the technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of recording artists welcome the day when P2P systems and other technologies offer uninhibited and direct distribution of their work to the public, while at the same time respecting artists' demands for fair remuneration for their work and respect for their rights. We look forward to the upcoming debate, and are confident that once exposed to the facts, these artists will realize they have been used in an unseemly way to promote the interests of those who care the least about the well being of artists and our culture.

“If certain artists want to give away their music, that's up to them. However, they have no right to give away other people's property, like the songwriter's or the producer's interest in the product. And just because Chuck D wants to give away his product doesn’t that mean that all artists should be forced to give away theirs,” said Don Henley, president and co-founder of RAC.

“Illegal file-sharing systems like Grokster and Kazaa give away artists’ music for free and then go on to make millions in advertising dollars, without paying the artists a single penny of that money. They make their money on the backs of artists, and that’s simply not okay,” said Rebecca Greenberg, RAC’s national director.

On January 24, 2005, RAC, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (“The Recording Academy”), along with a number of artist and songwriter associations, and 54 high-profile recording artists, filed an Amicus Curiae Brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grokster litigation urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s opinion that Grokster, Kazaa, Morpheus, and other unauthorized P2P systems are not liable for contributory copyright infringement.

The 54 recording artists who signed on to the RAC Amicus Brief are: Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh & Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles), Jimmy Buffett, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, “Mya” Harrison, Gavin Rossdale, Sheryl Crow, Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn), Bonnie Raitt; Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire & Emily Robison (The Dixie Chicks), Stevie Nicks, Phil Vassar, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire; Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzman (of The Grateful Dead), Avril Lavigne, Dido, Denyce Graves, Tom Jones; Jesse Colin Young, Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Joe Terry & David White (of Danny and the Juniors), Billy Preston, Boz Scaggs, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, Kenny Rogers, Tom Waits; Tyler Stewart, Jim Creeggan, Steven Page, Ed Robertson & Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies), Deryck Whibley, Dave Baksh, Cone McCaslin & Steve Jocz (Sum 41), Brandon Hargest, Brittany Hargest, Chris Fedun & Lesley Moore (Jump 5), Bethany Dillon, Nichole Nordeman and Michael W. Smith.

The complete text of the RAC Amicus Brief is available online at www.recordingartistscoalition.com.