White Collar Criminals

ICED EARTH’S JON SCHAFFER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST CENTURY MEDIA FILE-SHARING LAWSUITS

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On Monday, we learned that Century Media has filed lawsuits against more than seven-thousand people who illegally downloaded Lacuna Coil’s Dark Adrenaline and Iced Earth’s Dystopia. Metal Insider subsequently spoke to a label representative from Century’s American office who claims that none of their U.S. employees knew anything about it before the news broke — although it’s entirely possible that the label’s European homebase initiated the legal action and didn’t tell their overseas underlings.

Someone else who apparently didn’t know about the lawsuits until the media picked up on the story is Iced Earth mastermind Jon Schaffer, who has released the following statement on the matter via the band’s Facebook page:

 “It has come to my attention that Century Media is suing fans over illegal downloads of (among others) our latest album,’Dystopia’. I felt it was important to clarify that we had no knowledge of this motion and were, sadly, not asked permission.

“We all know the music industry is changing. We have been adapting to this model by embracing legal streaming services such as Spotify and by bringing our music to places we have never played before by touring our proverbial asses off.

“As much as we respect that the labels are having a harder time selling music, we feel this is a misguided effort and want to make sure our fans know we would have not given our consent would we have been asked.”

I’m sincerely unsure whether or not I agree with Schaffer that this is “a misguided effort;” it’s hard for me to believe that if there were stronger prosecutory deterrents against illegal downloading, people would do it less… although that might be an idealistic fantasy on my part. I have done at least five blatantly illegal things on crowded public streets this week,  so I’m aware that the long arm of the law will only intimidate people to an extent.

And in any case, my general feeling on this kind of situation is that the artist’s wishes should be respected. I understand that the album may ultimately be the property of the label (depending on who is contractually entitled to the masters), but the artist is the one who’s “out there,” so to speak. Much the same way audiences often don’t think about the makers of a movie beyond the face of the star on the poster, there are a LOT of music fans who, I guarantee you, just do not pay attention to record labels; they don’t give a shit if their favorite band is on Century or Roadrunner or Profound Lore, they just want the music from said band. Consequently, Iced Earth could find themselves the victims of any fan backlash that comes about as a result of the suits, regardless of whether or not they actually had anything to do with it. (All Shall Perish found themselves in such a position earlier this year — a certain contingent of fans on the internet went on apeshit anti-ASP tirades when news of legal action against illegal downloaders broke, despite the fact that the band had no prior knowledge of that action.) So while there’s certainly an argument to be made that the labels have the right to do whatever they have to do to protect their business, they are ultimately supposed to be an intermediary between the art and the fans, and doing something like this without the artist’s permission strikes me as being a not-terrific idea.

As of this writing, no members of Lacuna Coil have publicly commented on the situation… but I imagine that will change soon. Meanwhile, you can read a copy of the Dark Adrenaline lawsuit below.

Century Media Ltd v Does 1 944 No 12 Cv 3868 (DNJ)

-AR

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