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APOCALYPSE AT HAND!
BRITNEY TO PERFORM WITH METALLICA!

Britney Spears has set her first international performance date of 2004 with a June 5 stop at Portugal's Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival, which also features such acts as Metallica, Guns N' Roses (No, we're not kidding) and Slipknot.

Spears will launch a North American tour March 2 in San Diego, and will finish April 10 or 12 in New York.
The Rock in Rio performance is Spears' only currently scheduled international booking, but will likely be part of a bigger itinerary. Sting and Alejandro Sanz (news) are among the other acts slated to perform during the May 29-30 and June 3-6 event at the Bela Vista Parque in Lisbon.
Spears will be touring in support of her latest studio album, "In the Zone" which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and is No. 13 in its fifth week on the chart. It has sold 1.38 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Start Swapping!
Court Rules Music Industry Piracy Subpoenas Illegal

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in Washington told the record industry Friday it could no longer issue subpoenas to track down and sue alleged file swappers.

Overturning a series of decisions in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America, the court said copyright law did not allow the organization to use subpoenas for the identity of file swappers on Internet service providers' networks, CNET News.com reported.

"We are not unsympathetic either to the RIAA's concern regarding the widespread infringement of its members' copyrights, or to the need for legal tools to protect those rights," the court wrote.

"It is not the province of the courts, however, to rewrite (copyright law) in order to make it fit a new and unforeseen Internet architecture, no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry."

The decision did not address the legality of the lawsuits that have already been filed against hundreds of individual computer users.

The Original Story is Below. So Far, there is no word on how this will effect the existing cases but if the means of collecting the file sharing information was illegal, it would seem that the cases would have to be dismissed.

In Other News...

Music piracy may be rampant, but burned CDs make a bad gift, so consumers lined up at record stores in droves over the holidays.

Alicia Keys tops the Billboard albums chart for the second time in three weeks, moving nearly 370,000 units of her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, according to SoundScan figures. That's over 120,000 more copies sold than Ruben Studdard's debut album, Soulful, which drove Keys down to #2 last week. On the current chart, Studdard drops to #8 with sales of almost 245,000. Studdard's dip reflected a 41 percent sales decrease, making him the only act in the top 25 to fall. By comparison, Studdard's "American Idol" rival, Clay Aiken, saw sales of his Measure of a Man increase 35 percent, with more than 212,000 units sold.

Nearly every musical genre experienced strong sales. Keys eclipsed country crooner Toby Keith in sales by fewer than 400 copies. Keith, who is at #2 on the chart, sold almost 369,500 copies of Shock'n Y'All to jump up two chart positions.

Compilation albums account for four of the top 10 albums. The top seller once again is Now That's What I Call Music! 14, which sold more than 354,000 and will place at #3. Other popular comps were Sheryl Crow's The Very Best of Sheryl Crow at #7 with more than 266,000 copies sold, No Doubt's The Singles 1992-2003 at #9 with over 235,000 and Rod Stewart's As Time Goes By ... The Great American Songbook Volume II, which sold over 221,000 copies to land at #10.

Even after 13 weeks on the shelf, Outkast's Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below remains popular. The album, which contains the mega-hit "Hey Ya!" saw a 55 percent sales jump to climb two notches up to #4 (334,000). Josh Groban's Closer will take the #5 slot (almost 318,000) and Hilary Duff will nab #6 with Metamorphosis (over 274,000).

Rock bands continue to dip on the charts. The only rock records from this year to make the top 20 are Blink-182, whose untitled LP makes it to #16 (155,000); Evanescence, whose Fallen reaches #19 (148,000); and Nickelback's The Long Road, which moved up eight notches to #20 (142,000).

There are typically few chart debuts at this time of year. Three notable debuts include R &B singer Joe, And Then ... #26 (122,000); Jay-Z protégé Memphis Bleek, M.A.D.E., #35 (101,000); and Wu-Tanger Raekwon, The Lex Diamond Story debuts at #102 (44,000).

The Music Download Battle Continues as RIAA Begins Legal Action

Over 800 download file traders were hit with a federal subpoena after repeated warnings by the RIAA.

According to a U.S. District Court spokesperson, 75 new subpoenas are being issued every day, and the figure is expected to soon go over 100. The court orders, levied on Internet service providers and colleges, are one of the first steps the Recording Industry Association of America is taking against file-swapping websites.

"Filing information subpoenas is part of the evidence-gathering process that we announced a few weeks ago in anticipation of the lawsuits that we will be filing against people who illegally make copyrighted music available on P2P networks" an RIAA spokesperson said. "We're doing exactly what we said we'd do."

The first round of lawsuits, which carry penalties as high as $150,000 per infringement (read: per song), are expected to arrive in mid-August. One has to wonder if any song is worth $150 grand, since they are only running about 99 cents per song on legal music download websites. How can the recording industry get away with such mumbo jumbo? Easy, they've been using smoke and mirrors for years and like the Wizard, they don't want anyone looking behind the curtain. File-sharing is a look behind the curtain.

The recoding industry is built on the lie that it is expensive to put out music for public consumption. The only reason it's expensive is because the system is designed to be that way. The Internet has blown the doors off the distribution model that allows five major corporations to control most of the music (and increasingly all forms of entertainment) the public has access to.

The recording industry (which we will hereafter refer to as the "bloodsuckers") has deep enough pockets to litigate anyone to death-regardless of eventual legal outcomes and the bloodsuckers will gladly tie up the nations courts for years on end. In fact, the flood of subpoenas in this round of lawsuits is becoming a real workload for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., which has called for assistance in processing the paperwork.

The bloodsuckers will eventually suck the financial life out of their target (witness Napster) and win by default or, they might even use their muscle.
For example, in a previous court ruling Internet Service Providers (ISP's) were forced to surrender the names and addresses of subscribers suspected of illegal file-sharing, pursuant to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Verizon might be a big company but it's not big enough to fight the big five (Warner Bros; EMI; Sony; Universal and BMG) and who cares about a couple of college students anyway, right?

Besides, the bloodsuckers control what ISP's need to survive: Content.
AOL and MSN are pretty boring now. Imagine them without 90% of their content. No song samples. No movie trailers. No chats with stars. You get the picture.

The bloodsuckers have found the lawsuits also deter investment in websites like Napster and similar operators like Kazaa and WinMX. Online traders-or pirates as some call them-- have devised ways to stay out of the RIAA's reach. A version of Kazaa Lite can hide some of the shared music files on a user's hard drive and supposedly prevents users with an IP address associated with the RIAA from scanning the list of active users.

The technology can be foiled, but what's the real risk here? This first round of copyright-infringement lawsuits are of the civil -not criminal-- variety, but that may change. A pair of Democratic Congressmen, John Conyers and Howard Berman, recently introduced a bill that would impose criminal penalties of up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine against convicted swappers. (See sidebar for current laws and penalties.)

There's still some hope that file sharers can at least avoid a criminal record according to Senator John McCain "I would not support criminal penalties for the person who just shares music files," said the Republican Senator from Arizona. "If there's some kind of organized and orchestrated organization that does this as a profession to make a profit, then that probably would be appropriate. Look, these artists deserve a return for their talents and their abilities; we've got to try and make that happen. But to throw people in jail because they file-share, in my view, is a terrible overreach."

The legislation - which is sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, along with Howard Berman, D-Calif.; Martin Meehan, D-Mass.; Robert Wexler, D-Fla.; Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.; and Adam Schiff, D-Calif. - would also give law enforcement $15 million to fight copyright crime and would require distributors of file-sharing software to alert users that downloading file-sharing software might create privacy and security risks. Think maybe they'd like to get their hands on that cash? Not to mention one more route to access the privacy of an individuals home.

And after all, that's what this is really all about. The control over the public and what we see and hear by a group of corporations who are now "partnering" with government. Maybe we should all just email each other MP3's…

The Law Today

Under current law, you'd have to distribute 10 authorized copies of a work with a retail value of more than $2,500 to make it a felony. HR 2752, otherwise known as the Author, Consumer & Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, would make it a crime to upload even one copyrighted work to a publicly accessible Web site or file-sharing network, since the bill operates under the assumption that each uploaded file gets copied at least 10 times. The penalties for felony copyright violation vary, but offenders could face a five-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000.

HR 2752, otherwise known as the Author, Consumer & Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, would make it a crime to upload even one copyrighted work to a publicly accessible Web site or file-sharing network, since the bill operates under the assumption that each uploaded file gets copied at least 10 times. The penalties for felony copyright violation vary, but offenders could face a five-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000.

 


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