Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Drama, Cannon and the Future of Mixtapes


The record industry is notorious for operating under quasi legal auspices.

Cannon and Drama need to do two things. Get Gotti's attorney. If I recall, Gotty had a RICO charge.

Once they get his atty, he/she needs get down the Georgia attorney general and see about putting the record labels on the defensive by requesting an investigation into the labels practices of paying to have songs placed on mixtapes, then PENALIZING the DJ's w/ a raid for selling too many mix tapes. **Cue DMX, DONT BE GREEDY.

The labels are gonna try and eat. They are institutions. Thats what they are built to do, like alligators. However, invading n*ggas houses, thats a declaration of war.


Fools are sitting up here citing the fact that label execs PAY DJ's to put songs on Mixtapes. And? These n*ggas orchestrated payola for hella years too. Whats new?

Jeff Leeds breaks it down in The Times.

The labels’ reliance on the D.J.’s is complicated further by the fact that many of the top mixtape creators also double as radio D.J.’s on major rap stations. Many label executives acknowledge that when they write checks to certain D.J.’s to produce a mix CD for an artist, there is often an expectation that the D.J. will play the artist’s music on the air — an arrangement that recalls the industry’s recent radio corruption scandals involving illicit pay-for-play, or payola.

And many more people now know: last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.


I thought this was a copyright infringement case.
Then I came across this @ analoguehole.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently considered and upheld Georgia's own "true names" law, Ga. Code. § 16-8-60(b), against a similar challenge in Briggs v. State,

In both these cases, the court majorities found that the state laws in question were not preempted because the state offense included an "extra element" (lack of an identifying label) beyond the elements of a mere copyright violation. (The "true names" provisions are also drafted so as to apply regardless of the copyright status of the underlying work, or whether the copy was authorized by a copyright owner, so arguably the state true names offenses lack some of the elements of a copyright offense as well.)

However, Georgia's state antipiracy statute goes beyond requiring "true names" labeling, treading into what clearly seems to be copyright territory. The Georgia law makes it a crime to "[t]ransfer ... any sounds or visual images recorded on [any disc, tape, or other] article ... onto any other [disc, tape, or other] article without the consent of the person who owns the master [disc, tape, or other] article from which the sounds or visual images are derived" or to distribute (or possess with intent to distribute) copies of any article to which which sounds or images have been transferred, "knowing it to have been made without the consent of the person who owns the master [disc, tape, or other] article from which the sounds or visual images are derived." Ga. Code Ann., § 16-8-60(a).

Drama's case is a tricky issue b/c there are notions of federal copyright law as well as notions of notions of state racketeering law involved.


He goes on to address the distinction between MIX TAPES AND BOOTLEGS and the
applicable law and tests.

Unlike a typically street vendor of pirated CDs, a DJ selling mixtapes would want to identify the product as his own, and also will generally (in my admittedly limited experience) identify the various tracks included in the mix. So a "true names" violation is unlikely. Perhaps the Georgia authorities have other RICO predicates in mind that are unrelated to the content of DJ Drama's mixtape CDs (like state tax or licensing violations, or maybe someone has been taking DJ Drama's compilation label, "Gangsta Grillz," too literally). But given the involvement of the RIAA in the raid, and the public statements from the RIAA's Bradley Buckles, et al., it appears that the charges are indeed based on the mixtapes themselves.

If the basis for the DJ Drama RICO charges is indeed a claim of "unauthorized distribution" under Ga. Code 16-8-60(a), then we should expect some vigorous challenges to the statute. It would seem that Simmons and Cannon likely have the means to mount a vigorous defense, and they certainly have the incentive to do so. And given that Georgia's "unauthorized distribution" law so closely mirrors federal copyright law, it also seems quite difficult to see how the Georgia statute could withstand such a vigorous challenge.

Ummmm Sticky legal questions!


I think that is a whole weeks worth of blogging fam.



neo said...

Great stuff famo...so it isn't as cut and dry as it would seem then..hmm..really an interesting case it would turn out to be. Don't see why provided Drama and Cannon have good defense lawyers who know their stuff that they can't win.


M.Dot. said...

It is an interesting case.

I started drafting that Sh*t last week.

I almost forgot abou it.

Drama and Cannon ARE free. On Bail.

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