Slashdot tagged a recent story from LA Weekly today in which I'm misquoted about RIAA raids on bootleg CD street vendors. The story outlines a vicious campaign by the RIAA wherein they practically impersonate FBI agents (complete with dark blue "RIAA" windbreakers and "official looking" badges) and use ex-law enforcement agents to pressure vendors to give up their stock.
The story quotes me as saying:
"The process of confiscating bootleg CDs from street vendors is exactly what the RIAA should be doing," said Jason Schultz, a staff attorney for the San Francisco–based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
It also goes on to say:
The EFF has frequently crossed swords with the record industry over its strategy of suing ISPs and individual listeners accused of downloading tunes from the Internet. A champion of copyright "fair use," the EFF says Buckles could bring a more balanced approach to the RIAA’s anti-piracy efforts. The more time the association spends rousting vendors, the thinking goes, the less it will spend subpoenaing KaZaa and BearShare aficionados.
Slashdot has already commented on it, so I figured I would clarify what I said and what I meant:
What I said: "Stopping street venders who sell bootlegged CDs is exactly where the RIAA should be focusing. They should be going after the real pirates who are making money off their music instead of going after American music lovers who are simply listening to music in privacy of their own homes."
What I meant: What I meant was that sending out squads of investigators to collect evidence against counterfeiters is traditionally what trade enforcement organizations like the RIAA are good at. They find the pirates, collect the evidence, and then turn it over to real cops for enforcement. The reporter who called me (who was otherwise a very nice guy) had given me the impression that the actual raids were being performed by legitimate cops, not by hired RIAA cronies.
Oh well, live and learn, right? Next time, less sound byte and more context for me.
P.S. I also found this racist quote from the head of the RIAA anti-piracy squad particularly offensive:
"A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature," Langley said. "Today he’s Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow he’s Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that he’s something else. These people change their identity all the time. A picture’s worth a thousand words."
I also found this quote pretty humorous, especially for a guy who just got jacked by the RIAA:
"They tried to scare me," Borrayo said. "They told me, ‘You’re a pirate!’ I said, ‘C’mon, guys, pirates are all at sea. I just work in a parking lot.’ "
UPDATE: A bunch of people have emailed me about the story wanting to know what's going on. I wrote one guy back with this response, which I thought would also be helpful to post here:
I was shocked when I read the LA Weekly article because when the reporter called me, he represented it as a story about focusing on commercial bootleggers vs. file-sharers. My reaction was that the RIAA should be focusing in that direction and not going after Americans in their own homes. When I gave my quotes, I had no idea that the reporter was talking about RIAA-led raids by their own rent-a-cops. I had assumed he was talking about the typical trade raids that are led by real law enforcement after issuance of a warrant. I certainly had no idea that the raids were so racist in their focus. EFF is entirely committed to preserving all our civil liberties and would never endorse the kind of vigilante tactics the RIAA is using in its street raids.