Don’t love the mountains, don’t love the sea
Don’t love Jesus, he never done a thing for me
I ain’t pretty like my sister, or smart like my Dad, or good like my momma
It’s money that I love
It’s Money That I Love by Randy Newman
Blanche Dubois, the iconic fallen belle in Tennessee Williams’ classic Street Car Named Desire, famously said, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”. Blanche and Michael Petricone clearly are BFFs when it comes to interpreting the Internet Radio Fairness Act.
Mr. Petricone is employed by the Consumer Electronics Association, which I think he would agree could be fairly (and proudly) characterized as the tech industry’s representatives in Washington. There is competition for that title from the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Digital Media Association, the Net Coalition, the Internet Association, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge…who am I leaving out? But suffice it to say, Mr. Petricone has never seen a copyright bill that he liked. No, all fell just a little bit short, but short they fell.
So why do I think that these two have a thing, a relationship, a connection rather than passing like ships in the night?
During the discussion of the anti-competitive sections of the Internet Radio Fairness Act at the Future of Music Policy Summit this week, Mr. Petricone’s interpretation of the bill fell under scrutiny. Mr. Petricone wanted to define the bill as being about rates and protecting innovation. In fact, it must be said that Mr. Petricone held onto that spin ever more desperately as his interpretation came under ever greater scrutiny and he seemed to be laboring to give effect to the very Orwellian language in the bill that was under criticism by artists and artist advocates, particularly Patricia Pollach of the American Federation of Musicians and David Lowery of Cracker and Camper van Beethovan.
Mr. Petricone had an odd response for a long time copyright opponent.
Artists should just trust Senator Wyden and Congressman Chaffetz because they were big supporters of the opposition to SOPA and the Protect IP Act and were supporters of free expression. And any problem language can be “fixed.”
Well—if it has to be “fixed”…then there something wrong with it now, right? Otherwise, why would it need to be “fixed”? And “fixed by whom? The Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Digital Media Association, the Net Coalition, the Internet Association, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge…and the Consumer Electronics Association?
Why deal with all these intermediaries, why not just have Google do it?
Because after all, we have always depended on the kindness of strangers.