Suing To Save Independent Music

An association of San Francisco lawyers, calling themselves the ‘The Internet Lawyers Group’ started the process of filing a class action lawsuit against Napster last week, claiming the service has affected the income of thousands of independent musicians. The Group’s arguments are not much different than those employed by the major labels in their attempts to force the closure of Napster. However, the Group insists that the situation is even more dire for independent artists, as the “market uncertainty” caused by Napster’s free file-sharing is causing the majors to be more hesitant in signing new acts, and acts in “non-mainstream” genres. The Group is awaiting the decision of the court, which will determine if they can proceed with their proposed class-action lawsuit.

It certainly does stand to reason that independent (as well as any) artists should be compensated for their work. If anyone is to be compensated by Napster, so too should independent musicians. However, one wonders how effective this so-called Internet Lawyers Group will be in their attempt, and how well intentioned they really are. In litigious American society, it is quite likely that this group is trying to cash in on the current legal fad of suing online music sites and services. That their press suggests a founding member of the group is one such indie songsmith whose songs were stolen away by the dread-pirate Napster; in fact does nothing to strengthen the faith one should have in them. So far nobody at the Estrogen offices seems to have been contacted by them, though surely many artists represented here have likewise had their livelihood pillaged by the same bandits the Group would prosecute. Perhaps a letter circulated through online music indie communities would have been in order? Of course it would have. One must mind though, that it seems the Group might not even be possessed of a knowledge of what we denizens of the online world like to call : e-mail.

To close on the most important note of the issue, it also must be wondered what a group without a website is doing calling themselves the ‘Internet’ anything. Attempts to locate a homepage on no fewer than four major search engines turned up only this link as a possible means of finding these would-be indie tech-saviours. Feel free to investigate the site. Be assured you will find nothing of possible interest, and certainly nothing to indicate that these folk are the kind of net-savvy legal heads who could hope to hobble the titan that is Napster.

All the power to them though.

This writer for one will be eagerly awaiting his cheque in the mail, should they succeed.