Wednesday, July 21, 2004

last night a dj ruined my life

snugglers, rumorites, & locals might recall the story of berry's music, an indianapolis record store that was raided by the RIAA last fall. an excellent piece in this week's nuvo details how owner alan berry lost his business, lots of money, & almost his house while trying to fight off "the man". his crime: selling mixtapes.

Armed with search warrants, the officers grabbed all the mix-CDs from both stores, then headed to the Berrys’ warehouse. Though they had no search warrant for the warehouse, Alan, believing he had nothing to hide, let them look around there as well. “We didn’t have any duplicating equipment [for pirating CDs], if that’s what they were looking for. And as for the mixes, we never really questioned the legalities of them. We never did. Because, one, we were getting some of the mix-CDs through our regular vendors that we bought our quote-unquote ‘legit’ product from. The same place I would get the Interscope record from, I would get mix-CDs from, from national distributors. Two, the artists are on there endorsing the mixes. I mean, Eminem’s on the mix-CD saying, ‘Yo, this is Eminem. You’re listening to DJ Green Lantern.’ Then he drops three or four exclusive free-styles and he’s talking within the mix, about the mix itself, saying Lantern’s his man. You would kind of assume that Eminem’s fine with it.”

But arguing their case at the warehouse proved a waste of time and the police continued to gather up discs. It amounted to $10,000 worth of stock — a significant hit, but no arrests were made and Alan felt that if confiscating the mixes was the worst that happened, his store would survive. For about two months, it looked like that might be the case. Then came another knock at the back door. It was a Marion County sheriff, there to arrest Alan Berry on 13 felony counts of royalty theft and fraud. Alan was handcuffed, taken down to lockup, strip-searched, deloused, put in an orange jump suit — and finally released 12 hours later on $15,000 bond. Andy Berry, now living in Florida, went through the same ordeal once he flew back to Indy and turned himself in.

jeez, i just want to quote the whole damn article; it's well-written, compelling, and easily the definitive piece on the battle between berry's music & the law. if you're into copyright issues & all that, this is a must read.

i'll just let you go read it for yourself, but i do want to drop one more quote, because i was ranting about this bit last fall, so it feels good to see it finally pointed out by someone in "the media":

Then, some weeks later, Fox 59’s evening news featured a special report on counterfeit CDs “that look and sound so close to legitimate discs, even music store owners can’t tell the difference.” Donald Finch, a local investigator working for the RIAA, held up a fake Beyonce CD (that indeed looked pretty real) and confirmed that a “truck full” of such CDs had been confiscated locally over the previous few months. The discs taken from Berry’s Music had included no counterfeits — and the segment never cited Berry’s (or any other store) by name — but, coming on the heels of the raid and the Channel 8 story, viewers could certainly be forgiven for assuming that’s who the Fox story was referring to. As a kicker, the report ended by casually noting that many of the places selling counterfeits are also associated with drugs and organized crime.

(i blogged about the fox59 hatchet-job in november but i hadn't started my blog yet when the orignal story broke, so that's the only other post in my blog about it. i would link to the IMN threads about it, but those are in the hidden "off-topic" forum, only accessible to registered users).

[edit: i just located the village voice article from last fall; check it out]

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