There were 2 kinds. The first kind we made off the radio. I tried to keep a tape cued up, and the record function just a quick button away. If I was paying attention, and the DJ didn't banter too much, I could collect all my favorite music without gambling on the invariably scratched 45 RPMs from the record store in the Green Acres Mall.
The second kind was the deliberate one. It was the one you made to collect your deep emotions. You pulled it together from your radio dubs and your actual purchased tapes. It often involved cables strewn across the living room. It could be the theme to a friendship or the overly flirtations, trying-to-hard, method of attempting to start a new relationship.
But as with all youthful indiscretions, these too, will come back to bite you. Old data doesn't go away.
Today (2010-04-01) I got my demand letter from the RIAA and I was served with a court order.
It seems that back in 1983 my mother bought me a pack of blank tapes with a credit card. Yes, the records apparently are still around from the THUNK-THUNK days of credit card processing. From that receipt, they knew I had the tapes and tracked me down. According to the letter:
You have or had blank audio tapes (Brand: Realistic; Length: 90 Minutes (45 minutes/side), Noise Reduction: Dolby B).
Research shows that tape users such as yourself primarily use them to steal music from artists without paying for it. Such users created "Party Mixes," "Road Tunes," "Mood Music," and "Mixed Tapes."
Further, interviews with other current and former New York residents known to be associated with you have confirmed that you are a blatant large scale music pirate and at one point stole music such as:
- The Russians are Liars (Z100 Morning Zoo parody)
- Tarzan Boy (Baltimora)
- When the Rain Begins to Fall (Jermain Jackson and Pia Zadora)
- Hard Habit to Break (Chicago)
- I Know You're Out There Somewhere (Moody Blues)
- I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me (Rockwell)
- Just a Gigalo (David Lee Roth)
- Patience (Guns 'N' Roses) (Illegal back yard performance)
- Elvira (Oak Ridge Boys)
- Toy Soldiers (Martika)
- The Rain (Oran "Juice" Jones)
- A View to A Kill (Duran Duran)
- Glory of Love (Pete Cetera)
There is no statute of limitations on this craven theft, and we are pursuing this case to the fullest extent of the law. You are hereby notified that this investigation is ongoing. The accompanying court order prohibits you from destroying or damaging any audio recordings or documentation related to this matter.
Investigators with the appropriate search warrants will arrive within the week to seize the appropriate evidence.
Thank you for your cooperation in this manner.
And it was signed by the appropriate people. The accompanying court order did just that.
Two hours later I got a phone call from the attorney representing the RIAA. He was in a conference room with the Federal Prosecutor for Intellectual Property Crimes in the Pacific Northwest.
They laid out the situation for me. Based on there assumptions of what I had (I, of course, said nothing), they explained the situation was particularly bad. Not only had I recorded music off the radio, I kept that music for more than 20 years. And I traveled out of state with it. They were drafting an International Warrant in case I fled, and flagged my passport so I couldn't leave the country.
If convicted, I could face penalties of up to $150K per song, plus 5 years in prison for each song. In other words, if I had everything in that list, and if those were the only songs I recorded off the radio as a kid in the 80s, and if they don't find more when they execute the warrant, I will have to pay $1.95 million and serve 65 years in Federal Prison.
Or I could settle now. For the low price of $10K I could pay all fines and avoid jail time. Plus I would need to report everyone else I knew who had a made a mixed tape.
I said I would think about it.
I headed out for coffee, and thought about all this on my walk. I got to the shop, and the soft tones of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" greeted my ears.
Great. That's just what I wanted to hear now.
Then I made my next mistake. I began singing under my breath
Show me a smile then
don't be unhappy, can't remember
when I last saw you laughing
if this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear
you call me up
because you know I'll be there
BAM! My cell phone rings. It's the RIAA lawyer again. It seems they'd been following me. The coffee shop had a license to play the music, but I didn't have a license to sing it -- to engage in a "Public Performance." And they have it on surveillance. Because I am such a recalcitrant thief, the settlement cost now jumps to $20K.
So right now, I'm dealing with all this. I think I should probably get a lawyer, but I just can't bring myself to get that done yet. What I really need now is to stop and get some fresh air. Afterall, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Oh, hang on a moment. My phone's ringing.
It's the MPAA.
New SeaTac Name
Are you going to Scarbarough fare...