Say what you will about the French because, Lord knows, they've got plenty to say about us but their stylish, socialist state has actually figured out that the people who vote for you, rather than the people who finance your campaigns, are the important ones. According to an AP story, during a recent legislative "crackdown on digital piracy," France's National Assembly (the lower house of the French parliament) decided that, instead of imposing fines equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars against "illegal" file-sharers, a more prudent course of action would be to allow downloaders to pay a monthly royalty (about nine bucks) that would allow them to participate in all the file-trading they want. Artists get paid, music-lovers get to keep discovering new music and the record business gets back to putting out records, rather than litigating against its customers. Très bien.
Canada, on the other hand, seems to be lurching in the opposite direction, perhaps inspired by its financially debauched neighbors to the south. A member of the Canadian Parliament named Sam Bulte who was responsible for helping to draft a highly restrictive copyright law that has yet to be approved got caught with her hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. Bulte's vision of copyright law is pro-DRM, pro-limited use, pro-music business and includes lots of ways to prevent music buyers from fully utilizing their purchased music. Unsurpris-ingly, Bulte has been the recipient of campaign cash from the corporations who stand to gain the most from narrowly defining what rights consumers have when it comes to music, books and movies. And that, less than her draconian stand on copyright, is what has so many people disturbed. When legislation is so clearly driven by corporate donations, that's when you realize that your elected representatives hold you in precisely as much disdain as the corporations to whom they're beholden.
SPEAKING OF CANADA
Last week's column about local radio may have left you with two not-quite-accurate impressions. First, by no means was I saying that Orlando radio is good. I was simply saying that in the sea of corporate awfulness, occasional goodness can be found. Second: Some readers thought I was some kind of XM apostle. And perhaps I am, or was. XM reminds me every day how good radio can be, and when I hear people in terrestrial radio talk about new ideas like HD Radio and "Jack" formats, I roll my eyes in disbelief that these folks just don't get why satellite radio is so amazing. That said, a recent development at the company has pissed me off: XM's expansion into Canada. No, I don't mind that Canucks are (legally) listening to XM. What I do mind are numbskull "Canadian Content" laws that mean XM had to replace two of my favorite channels (the "world music" and African music channels) with lame-ass French Canadian pop music. Between that and the ditching of XM's "Liquid Metal" channel, I might give Sirius' tight and uninspired playlists another try.
The new season of Band Patrol kicks off Friday Jan. 13 at 11 p.m. on Bright House channel 10. You know, the "leased access" channel? It's something of a pity that a local music show even one conceptualized as a contest has to be relegated to a channel seemingly devoted to infomercials and two-year-old parades. No, scratch that. It's embarrassing. Still, it's good that the show's producers are offering up television time to the likes of The Courtneys, Early Next Year and other bands.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Thanks to Jim Abbott over at the Sentinel for putting Juanes in his year-in-review piece. I don't know how, but somehow I managed to leave him (Juanes, not Jim Abbott) off my list. Maybe it was because Juanes was so omnipresent for me in 2005 I interviewed him, wrote about him, saw him in concert four times, heard his music in a tapas bar in India and still didn't mind when my wife played Mi Sangre for the eight millionth time that I just didn't think of him. See? That's why end-of-the-year lists are dumb. You always forget firstname.lastname@example.org