This article originally appeared in the 4.4.13 issue of Metroland
A couple of months ago I wrote about an epidemic of
copyright infringement lawsuits brought by porn companies against many thousands
of people. These lawsuits were not any
different from the mass infringement suits of few years ago by the recording
and film industries, except (a) there were a lot more of them, (b) they involved porn, and (c) judges are a
lot more attuned to the world of the internet than they were 5 or so years
ago. Essentially, all these cases were postured in
a way that the porn companies were demanding that John Doe defendants pay them
thousands of dollars or the defendants would be publicly named in a porn
I had a
defendant in a suit in federal court in Massachusetts, one of 80+ John Does in
one case, all accused of downloading a moist towelette of cinematic brilliance
entitled Dirty Babysitters #3
. A bunch of defendants paid the man, and a
bunch of us fought it. A couple of weeks
ago the judge (following the lead of a lot of judges all over the country)
threw the whole thing out, ruling that (a) it was unfair to lump all of these
defendants into one lawsuit, that the porn companies were using the courts as a
business model more than vindicating any rights, and (b) there was not
sufficient proof that the defendants, holders of the internet accounts on which
the infringing activity took place, were the individuals who actually did the
alleged downloading. Boom!!! Buh-bye trolls!
Moving on. When
did the City of Albany become stupid?
Culturally moronic? Last
December, Albany code enforcement shut down a burlesque show at the Lark
Tavern, apparently based on a “tip” from some clean-up-the-neighborhood
types. The reason? Well, it’s “burlesque”, so that means like,
nekkid wimmins, right? Really? In this century?
to look merely dumb, but apparently in an effort to turn Albany into a laughingstock
and embarrassment, code enforcement has now at least twice tried to shut down
EDM shows at the Armory. Now, as we’ve
discussed here before, EDM (electronic dance music) has exploded in recent
years as the prevalent and preferred type of live entertainment for the vast
majority of kids, who we’ll loosely define as persons under the age of 25. It’s happened, beautifully, outside of the
traditional music industry, it’s about the only thing that matters at events
like Coachella and Bonneroo, even though you don’t hear much about that because
the media sends middle-age white guys to cover these festivals, and most middle
aged white guys don’t have a clue, and are in bed and asleep before packed
tents fire up with this special brand of madness.
performers (often referred to, deceptively, as “DJ’s”) are performers and
celebrities in their own right. And yes,
they perform; in fact they typically will play the audience in real time much
more than your typical “live music act” like a singer or a band. Their computers are their instruments, their
lights are their show.
has been running EDM shows ever since a local promoter booked a DJ named
Bassnectar a couple years ago and the show sold out before it was officially
announced. Apparently there was a single tweet from Bassnectar to his
followers. These shows typically sell
out, and fast. And we’re talking
3000-4000 folks a pop. Yup, the Armory’s
filling a need, and if you’re surprised about the scope of this, it’s because
it’s a huge subculture that doesn’t include you. You’re old.
been incidents; too many people show up, or when the shows let out, thousands
of kids hit the streets at once with fairly predictable and unfortunate
results. The Armory has, I understand,
beefed up security and taken other steps to lessen the neighborhood impact. I’ve heard talk about rampant drunkenness,
which is a little suspect, as the vast majority of the kids at these shows are
under 21 and don’t get served.
City is still trying to shut them down.
Now, if the neighborhood impact is a real problem, I’m sure there are
ordinances regarding noise, crowds, and the general well-being of neighborhoods
the City could rely on. If it is the
problem, there could be hearings, fact-finding, something resembling due
process to come up with a fair and reasoned resolution to the problem.
would require effort. What City code
enforcement has done is to try to disingenuously shut down the EDM events claiming
that the Armory doesn’t have the right permits.
The Armory has permits to have concerts, but not, apparently, to act
like a nightclub. It’s been the City’s
position, pathetically, that because there’s a “DJ” performing, these EDM shows
are indistinguishable from some guy playing records at a bar. And that the shows can’t be concerts because
there’s no “fixed seats” on the floor.
A judge last
week refused to uphold the City’s attempt to stop these shows, stating the
obvious, that “fixed seats” aren’t a rational measure of whether an event is a
City code enforcement is either hopelessly ignorant of the world around
it, or it’s got an agenda that’s not based on the rule of law or common
sense. Neither is acceptable.
Paul Rapp is a civic-minded
IP attorney who is salivating at the thought of seeing, along with his fellow
old people, the best rock band in history at the Egg next Wednesday.