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The ongoing saga of Joel Tenenbaum

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If you keep up to date with developments in the digital music world – and seeing as you’re already reading the BAMM website, we’re gonna go ahead and assume you’re pretty clued up – you’re probably familiar with the ongoing story of Joel Tenenbaum, a former Boston University student who was fined $675,000 by the RIAA for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs on the internet.

Tenenbaum decided to fight his corner. Viewing the punishment as deeply out of perspective, Joel enlisted legal assistance and took the RIAA to court (with the help of Harvard professor Charles Nesson). A federal judge agreed that the punishment was excessive, but it was alas reinstated by a court of appeal.

Infact, if you want to know the story in full, just spare a few minutes to take a listen to this episode of BAMM Insights, in which we interviewed Tenenbaum himself:

Enjoy that? Good (and there are several more episodes of Insights you should check out too, covering a wide range of digital and music issues). Now take a peek at this BAMM.tv clip in which our very own Phil Lang examines both sides of the piracy/punishment argument:

Why are we bringing this issue up today? Because Joel’s most recent appeal has failed, and he’s still in the firing line for that none-too-pleasant 675K fine. Joel just graduated on Sunday, and – while he’s no doubt justifiably proud of his achievement – this ongoing saga can’t help but take the shine off that.

The thing is this: let’s look at the consensus here. In the episode of Insights posted above, Joel admits breaking the law, and is more than ‘happy’ to accept an appropriate punishment. The key word here is appropriate. If you were to hit the streets right now and ask people what the punishment for illegal file-sharing should be, what sort of answer do you think you’d get (barring any RIAA employees you might happen to bump into)? A relatively small fine – maybe five hundred or a thousand dollars? A brief stint of community service? Something in perspective, surely, because the vast majority of people have either a) dabbled in the world of the online five-finger discount themselves, or b) agree with Paul Resnikoff (see above video) that it’s a crime on a par with a traffic violation. Illegal, yep, and you’ll get your day in court. But you won’t be destroyed.

What will happen if Joel refuses to pay up? Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have a spare $675,000 down the back of the sofa. Will he face jail time? Music pirates have been sent to prison in the past – admittedly for far greater offences, but nonetheless precedents have been set.

No-one would deny the right of artists to get paid, nor that those who steal music should be punished. But look at it this way – someone who illegally downloads music could theoretically face a prison sentence. Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of the manslaughter of Michael Jackson, was sentenced to four years in jail. Conclusion: there’s not too much difference between the punishment for downloading a Michael Jackson song and killing Michael Jackson. Is that fair?

What are your thoughts on the issue? Feel free to share in the comments box below.

Check Out The Final Episode Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Well, it’s been a great ride, but we’ve reached the last of our regular Friday instalments of BAMM’s Global Scene: Amsterdam. We hope you’ve enjoyed this in-depth look at this amazing city and all the fantastic musical elements it has to offer. To round things off, we’re looking to the future: who are the faces to watch in the world of Dutch music?

As for Global Scene itself? Well – it will return in the not-too-distant future! To date we’ve covered London and Amsterdam, and can guarantee that we’ll be heading somewhere similarly exciting next. Where would you guys like to see us go?

Check Out Episode Eight Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Another Friday, you say? Already? And we’re almost at the end of January? 2012 is already zipping by so quickly, we’ll be putting the Christmas presents under the tree before too long (provided that the Mayans and John Cusack weren’t in the right, and the Earth isn’t due to be destroyed. Which, at any rate, would save us all a bit of money come the next festive season).

Aaaanyway, abstract rambling aside – we all know that Friday offers up the chance to check out a brand new episode of BAMM’s awesome Global Scene series. We’re up to episode eight of our in-depth look at the cultural hub of Amsterdam, and this week we focus on ‘Festival Life’ – the vibrant and exciting Dutch festival scene, and the opportunities these events can give acts for extending their fanbase. Enjoy!

Check Out Episode Seven Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Another Friday rolls around, and before you leap away from your desk to indulge in a chaotic weekend of pure hedonism (or just prepare to sit around in your underwear all Saturday and Sunday playing the Xbox) why not treat yourself to Episode Seven of BAMM’s awesome Global Scene: Amsterdam? This week the show examines the Dutch artists who have achieved massive international success – how they went about becoming superstars, and what new bands/musicians can learn from them.

Check Out Episode Six Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Friday comes around once again, so why not stoke your European sensibilities with a visit to Amsterdam, courtesy of BAMM.TV? (Well … a virtual visit. We like you and all that, but we’re not going to buy you all plane tickets just yet). Episode Six of Global Scene: Amsterdam continues our all-access look at the musical culture of the titular city, and in this installment we examine the organizations, institutes and projects who strive to support local music. Enjoy!

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