He Can Sing a Stirring Otello But Can Domingo Stop Piracy?

Spanish Tenor Rails Against Music Piracy Among Youth

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 11:14 PM

Placido Domingo, the peripatetic tenor, conductor and opera house impresario, added another feather to his cap on Tuesday: as the new chairman of IFPI, a British trade group representing the recording industry.

The tenor said he will play a leading role promoting the priorities of the body, which is essentially an international version of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These include improving copyright legislation and supporting the industry's advocacy efforts around digital music.

Although Domingo may be a figurehead, he has already spoken out about copyright violators. As reported in The Telegraph, Domingo, 70, called for young people who download pirated music to be stopped from using the Internet. "The opera singer said that ‘many young people accept piracy’ and need to be ‘advised’ not to take part in it,” the report stated.

Domingo is a noted darling of the recording industry. He has made over 100 recordings and has won 12 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammys. Last year he accepted the President's Merit Award from the Recording Academy, the organizer of the Grammys. Some estimates put Domingo in the ten best-selling classical artists of all time, with over 30 million records sold.

Headquartered in London, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) lobbies for the interests of the record industry, overseeing anti-piracy enforcement, regulatory affairs and market research.

It is not clear the extent to which Domingo is familiar with the technological intricacies of online distribution. "Perhaps his strongest appeal is diplomacy, and the deep respect that could bridge some fractured factions,” noted a commentary in Digital Music News, which added: “Does Domingo really want to spend his time smashing rogue websites, suing startups, and shilling for major labels?”

Domingo recently stepped down as general director of the Washington National Opera but continues to serve as a conductor and an administrator in his role as general director of the LA Opera.

The Spanish tenor has been a celebrity spokesperson for assorted causes. In May, he was invited by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to help clean up the soccer governing body, which had been accused of taking bribes from countries that wanted to stage the World Cup. He was also among the stars who signed the letter protesting New York City Opera’s move from Lincoln Center last month. 

Weigh in: What do you think of Domingo's comments on music piracy?


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Comments [3]

Silversalty from Brooklyn

Once you use the word "piracy" you're using an industry hate term. "Piracy" is as misleading and misrepresentative as Jack Valenti's infamous equating of the VCR with the Boston strangler. It's the way our society is manipulated and controlled by the supra-national (they have no country to direct patriotic sentiments towards) billion dollar corporate interests.

In the music industry it's much more accurate to see the "industry" as pimps controlling a product that people want than to view people that share an infinite supply of something as "pirates." So what does that make Domingo?

Intellectual property laws have become an abomination completely reversing their supposed intent of promoting creative development. Instead the laws now serve to concentrate control over future development within the wealthiest bodies (US Courts have defined a "corporation" as a "person" deserving of all rights given to citizens - thereby making them super-citizens with greater rights based on their wealth and the power derived from that wealth).

Just look at software patents, a recent "innovation." Control over software development has rapidly moved to the major corporations involved in software sales leaving new development by independent innovators subject to the new lords of intellectual property.

Look at the genetically modified foods on the market. Genetically modified corn planted in fields and spread by the winds to other fields can now be used to claim fees for that spread, and likely criminal charges if those fees aren't paid. In Europe, where GM products are banned they've regularly been found in fields. Consider the likely source of those planted fields and then consider the term "pirates" used for people that share music and other forms of art that can be digitized.

This is an old story. The music industry objected to piano rolls when that innovation appeared. There's a speech given to the British Parliament in 1841 by Thomas Babington Macaulay wondering how after death copyright terms can possibly be viewed as providing creative incentive.


Other recent news that's not new news -

Ousted EMI boss: pirates are our best customers, suing is bad for business

When Patents Attack - the NPR Version

Jul. 27 2011 10:21 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

You can parade all the well-meaning celebs you want and make all the laws you want, piracy is purely a technological issue that has no real answer.

For every lock, someone will figure out a key. We all knew this was coming when the first Xerox machine was invented.

Jul. 27 2011 08:43 AM
Frank from LES

I respect Maestro Domingo as a singer and conductor but he dabbles in too many areas where he isn't up to speed. It's clear he misses the nuances of what's happening with music piracy based on his statements here. He should be above shilling for the record industry at this point in his career.

Jul. 27 2011 08:22 AM

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