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Just weeks after an antitrust suit was filed against the RIAA by webcasters, the music labels' lobby group, is, along with Hollywood, seeking a permanent exemption from similar litigation. The proposal seeks to extend the exemption to anything covering mechanical copyright: a sweeping extension of the copyright cartel's immunity.

It's buried away in a piece of legislation co-sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch called the EnFORCE Act, or the Enhancing Federal Obscenity Reporting and Copyright Enforcement Act of 2003. With 12-year old girls being threatened with $150,000 fines, and the computer industry embracing social engineering technologies such as locked music, you would think the last thing that the nation's cultural heritage needs is stricter enforcement by the copyright cartel.

Hatch said the big studios and major record labels need the exemption because of "market realities...The bill authorizes appropriations to ensure that all Department of Justice units that investigate intellectual property crimes have the support of at least one agent specifically trained in the investigation of such crimes," he said last week.

Hatch was a former critic of the RIAA, and advocate of compulsory licensing, who was seduced by the lobbyists, as Joe Menn describes in his book All The Rave [website - our review]. "Online systems provide a cheaper and easier method of self-publishing," Hatch said. He compared the musicians' predicament on major labels to "it's kind of like paying off your mortgage, but the bank still owns the house."

Hatch had discovered this because he had become a songwriter and performer of inspirational Christian music. At a gala awards dinner in March 2001 hosted by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Hatch was awarded a "Hero Award" and the diners heard Nashville star Natalie Grant perform one of his songs, "I Am Not Alone".

The flattery certainly proved inspirational to Hatch, whose own view of "market realities" has changed substantially since then.

"Any bill that further increases the RIAA's power over consumers is extremely disconcerting to us," president of the Webcaster Alliance, Ann Gabriel told us today.

With the Democrat Party so heavily reliant on campaign contributions from the pigopolists, the Bill requires a Republican revolt to avoid becoming law. Perhaps citizens should start reminding their Senators of the United States' cultural heritage as eloquently as Mr Gene Mosher did here did here. ®

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