Music industry slowly embraces the draconian

DJ Drama, a popular hip hop mixtape DJ, was arrested in Atlanta this week for, well, making mixtapes. The arrest was spurred...

DJ Drama, a popular hip hop mixtape DJ, was arrested in Atlanta this week for, well, making mixtapes. The arrest was spurred by the Recording Industry Association of America, (RIAA), which worked with local police to help rid the country of the terrifying menace of, um, mixtapes.A little clarity: DJ Drama is famous. Mixtapes are a crucial and longstanding part of the rap music industry, and his tapes (actually, CDs) sell untold thousands of copies. Furthermore, many artists willingly cooperate with Drama and other mixtape DJs, because they know that the street buzz generated by the underground compilation albums will ultimately help their own record sales.

The kicker: Drama was not charged with some mere misdemeanor, but with a felony violation of the RICO Act, which is most famously used to prosecute criminal organizations like the Mafia. His bail is $100,000.

It's fair to say that the RIAA long ago gave up on establishing a good image for themselves -- probably around the time they started pressing charges against individual teenagers who downloaded songs from the internet. So it might be useless to appeal to their sense of good PR. But trying to stop the digital revolution by pursuing Draconian penalties against kids and popular DJs is a losing battle. Not only does the RIAA look mean; they also look stupid.

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