Sunday, June 12, 2005

Life In Copyright Hell

A few years back, I took a trip to New York with a friend. Music junkies that we are, we made our way to the East Village, availing ourselves of the legendary record and CD shops there including Venus Records, Sounds, and Kim’s.

Kim’s was an odd kind of place. For one thing, it had 3 locations on other streets. For another, this one (which I believe was called Kim’s Underground) occupied all 3 stories of the building it was housed in. The bottom level was CDs. Though it wasn’t that big, the selection was unheard of to my friend and me. I mean, what can you say about a store where, when you dip your hand into the nearest CD bin, you come up with an album by an obscure Japanese electro-rocker whose album opens with a cover of Can’s “Yoo Doo Right”? Though I didn’t get that particular title then (silly me), I didn’t walk away empty-handed. I came back a few years later and bought, among other things, a CD of 1970's German electronica (for $4.00! New!) and a reissued Hawkwind CD (In Search Of Space) which had been playing on the house sound system. I never got to check out the upper floors, the second of which was crammed with music videos, because the first time we’d gotten there only 30 minutes before closing and the second time, I was running late catching a Greyhound bus home (don’t worry, I caught it OK).

Fast forward to last Wednesday (June 8, 2005). According to a New York Times article, investigators had carried out a search warrant for “counterfeit trademarked goods” being sold through Kim’s. Several people were arrested, among them the author of the message which appears below which was posted to Snuggles, the Negativland listserv. Though I cannot vouch for its authenticity, a spoofer or troller could probably find other more titillating subjects to blather on about. Also, I’ve heard similar stories of official misconduct from various sources over the years. And the current jihad by the RIAA against music piracy (real or imagined) makes the scenario which is described below even more likely. Therefore, I am presenting the following message with no editing or corrections, along with links to two articles about the police raid on Kim's.

WARNING: The language in this message is somewhat indelicate, but so is the situation it depicts.

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From: [Name and e-mail address witheld]
To: "Cut and Paste"
Subject: Re: [Snuggles] more RIAA fun
Date: Sat, 11 Jun 2005 10:36:31 +0200

from an employee there:

Subject: Yes, i was arrested and in jail....for working at Kim's

Dear Loving Friends,

On June 8, 2005, i along w/ 4 other Kim's employees were arrested during a raid on Kim's. The RIAA hired some pigs to come and bust the store, the arrest was totatlly arbitary. They were supoosed to be busting down on bootlegs, thanks to the media exposure on Star Wars bootlegs (it happened to be a live 50 cent concert, so if he was involved in any way FUCK 50 Cent!). They took me since i am the manager on the 2nd floor.

Mr. Kim was no where to be found.

The store was shut down, employees lined up, a few of us got cuffed w/out being told we are being arrested and with out utilzing our miranda rights.

We were taken to the holding cell, where we waited approx 5 hrs before they fingerprinted us and put us into a chain gang to take us downtown (despite them telling us they were going to give us desk passes so we would not have to spend the night in jail...FUCK THE POLICE!!!).

So we went downtown, beforehand they confisicated our cell phones and thanks to technology, was not able to memorize anyone's phone numbers.

The pigs still have my cell phone & ipod.

So we got put into a pen w/ a bunch of other dudes.

The cells were packed constantly, filled w/ 30 or so people at a time, having 10 bull pens down there, body heat made things harder in the dank cells.

Hours later i was separted from the rest of my co-workers and put into a different cell, separated from the one guy whom had the name & number to the Kim's lawyer.

Those whom don't know, i have a hard time w/ authority.

i spent 30+ hrs in jail for working at Kim's. All the other employees were released from there cells before me, i had a panic attack that was prompted by all this stress, not eating (jail is not really vegan friendly) nor sleeping the entire time i was in. i got really claustrophobic, thought everyone was stealing my air (for those who live in NY, the jail cell was 10x hotter then the 2nd ave. F stop) my heartrate doubled, i couldn't breath and i started to crack. i started to waddle back and forth like orphans do from not being mothered long enough or at all.

My man Jerry [witheld], whom is the only numbered i remembered, for we call each other every day. He worked his ass off to help me out, big ups for [witheld], whne you see him, hug him and buy him a drink.

Calling mutual friends whom have lawyers and money to help bail me out. The Correction Officers were very reluctant to help him help me out in any way.

When i bummed a quarter off a fellow inmate, i was at the point of cracking, mumbling w/ the entire cell yelling and overall carrying on like it was a party for them.

Some also had arbitrary arrests, like walking through the park at night or some for more "serious" crimes like selling weed.

i would like to take this moment to give Guiliani & Bloomberg a big fuck you!
i can honestly say i hate these men.

Hours later, at a point i was almost convinced i was going to spend 72 hrs or more in jail (they can legally hold you for 72 hrs, but if it falls on the weekend, you stay over the weekend regardless), i got called, went to my arrainment and senteced to one day of community service.

i was arrested apparently for making and distrobuting bootleg material (a felony offense aka your going to Rykers), which is not true, obviously.

Charges were lowered to a misdeamor and i was sentenced to a day of community service. That was a relief in a since. You can only imagine how intensely pissede i am at Mr. Kim at this moment and was ready to quit when i go out.

Below is a clipping from NY Times, which article helped speed up our arrainment (so i hear). [Due to copyright concerns, a link to that article is provided here instead]. Mr. Kim is supposedly turning himself in on monday, i have no idea was it going out (that is how it was the entire time i was locked up, the pigs liked to keep you in the dark).

So, i am sorry i can't call everyone right now, but i thought this may be best way for mass communication. Needless to say i hate cops even more now and have even less faith in the united states legal system. Thanks for all your support. Hope to see you all soon. luv, chu

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See also an article in the Village Voice:,websylvester,64885,22.html

and in the New York Times - registration required, or check the article at your public library)

“Police Raid Video Store in East Village in Piracy Case”
Published: June 10, 2005