Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Digital Economy Bill... Yikes!

So don't be getting sassy online next time you're in England. New rules clamping down on downloads at internet cafes and other WiFi hotspots as well as libraries have British bloggers pissed. Or maybe I should say they have their knickers in a twist. The Digital Economy Bill would penalize free internet providers for any kind of extra-legal file sharing or downloads that happen on their premises. The rave law gone digital?

Near as I can tell, the pertinent section "imposes obligations on internet service providers to reduce online copyright infringement, and allows the Secretary of State to amend copyright legislation to the same end." I'd translate that in Americanish as "We'll come after yer coffee house if some joker downloads a torrent at one of your tables."

(Insert exasperated curse of your choice here. Eye roll optional)

I have to wonder who is behind this one. Not being familiar with any of the members of the House of Lords, (guess I ought to keep up better with the tabloids) I really cannot say whether the sponsor has any connection to the music industry or not.
Ah, yes. Here we are at Westminster Palace, ready to pull the plug on WiFi.

Do you think they really plan to enforce this? I can imagine cops busting in to a quiet university library, shaking down some dweeb with a laptop, then heading over to the circulation desk to pull the plug on their router. British business tech site ZDX UK has a slightly different vision of their future. One of the BBC tech bloggers has links to the actual wording of the bill as well as to some rather charged opinions of it.

In addition, according to the Guardian, the Clause 17 section "gives a high court judge the right to issue an injunction against a website accused of hosting a “substantial” amount of copyright-infringing material, potentially forcing the entire site offline." So would that only work for British sites, or could they go after, say, Pirate Bay or Napster?

Whew! I'll try to keep you posted as things develop over there.

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In an absolutely unrelated topic, while looking for some more Hasna el Becharia tracks to check out (see last weeks post), I stumbled upon this lengthy review of the Musiques Metisses Festival from 2002 linked from the Afropop site. The list of artists at the three day event is mind blowing (Ali Farka Touré', King Sunny Adé, Habib Koite, Cesaria Evora, Lo'Jo, Amadou and Mariam, Hasna el Becharia to name a few) but the hidden gem here is his comments of one of the first European performance of the then-unknown Tinariwen! Here's a link to last year's artist list, just in case you want to keep ahead of the curve in African music. The 2010 artist list isn't up yet, but here's the poster so you can save the dates.

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Jumping around some more, Cedar faves Balkan Beat Box are putting the finishing touches on their new disc, Blue Eyed Black Boy. I'm just not going to say anything about that title. Official U.S. release is April 27, but supposedly early downloads can be had from their website this Thursday, March 11. Of course their politics are always in the right place; the first track out there is called "War Again." Take a listen on their MySpace. They had a nice little making-of vid which I posted a few months ago...being lazy and at the end of my lunch hour just now, I'll just guess you can find it at the link above as well.

Starring Tomar Yosef as The Boxer, Ori Kaplan as The Trainer and
Tamir Muskat as The Gambler.

You can also see cartoon Tomar, Ori and Tamir fend off the bombs of the evil war-monger with brass band power in the "War Again" video on their site. I've never been much into Yosef's rapping, but it's smoother here and the horns really drive this tune.

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In a slightly related note, BBB fans may want to check out this piece by sometimes BBB guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood on his journey to Mali and the Festival au Desert with his band Sway Machinery. He writes thoughtfully about being an "out" Jew in a very Muslim country.

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In another hot off the press note, get yourself psyched for Grupo Fantasma's Cedar show in June by checking out this "making of" vid for their new disc El Existential. They rented a house in North Austin, left all their gear in there for three months, then jammed and experimented and had what looks like a lot of fun. Can't wait to hear the tunes; disc's out May 11.

Prince did not come by, but Meat Puppet Curt Kirkwood did, as did master Latin pianist Larry Harlow.

And that's all the news that's fit to print. Wish our blogging team well down at SXSW next week. I hear out newbie, Sgt. Pepper is also planning to make the trek Austin-wards, along with Main Figurehead and the Angel of Rock. Find some good stuff for us, gang!

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