Post updated Nov. 24 with a response from PC Mag (at bottom)

Irked by an article published in PC Mag listing a number of alternative P2P services in the wake of the LimeWire shutdown, a number of music industry executive earlier this month sent the news outlet an angry letter that all but accused the publication of encouraging copyright infringement.

The story lists six P2P services and torrent trackers, along with the disclaimer that “all of these services should be used for legal downloads, of course.” The signatories to the letter, however, weren’t buying it.

“The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire – and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music…”

The letter was addressed to Vivek Shah, CEO of PC Mag publisher Ziff Davis Inc. Among those signing it were the heads of such organizations as ASCAP, BMI, A2IM, HFA, AFTRA, RIAA, SESAC, the Songwriters Guild of America, NMPA, and SoundExchange.

The full text is below:
We write to express our deep disappointment with your decision to publish Chloe Albanesius’ October 27 article, “LimeWire is Dead: What are the Alternatives?” as well as Sarah Jacobsson Purewal’s November 9, 2010 article “LimeWire is Quietly Resurrected: It's Baaack!” Both articles are nothing more than a roadmap for continued music piracy. The disclaimer in the first, “PC Magazine does not condone the download of copyrighted or illegal material,” rings hollow to say the least.

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire’s users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire – and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs – including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together. Even worse is offering a direct link to a “resurrected” Limewire as follows: “I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link).”

Our argument is buttressed by the fact that PC Magazine offered no alternatives that are 100% legal. In fact, legitimate download services, who have developed business models based on a respect for copyright and have entered into mutually beneficial arrangements with the music industry are undoubtedly outraged by your feeble attempt to undercut their ability to compete in the legal marketplace. We would hope that your sense of decency and the realization that even PC Magazine has a responsibility to the rule of law, would have informed your editorial decision in this matter. We suspect you’d feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you’d had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work. Unfortunately, it is clear that the rule of law was an afterthought.

We hope you will consider retracting the article and stating your strong support of only legal methods of obtaining music.

We hope you will consider retracting the article and stating your strong support of only legal methods of obtaining music.

Sincerely,
Rich Bengloff, President, American Association of Independent Music
Ray Hair, President, American Federation of Musicians
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
John LoFrumento, CEO, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Del Bryant, President & CEO, Broadcast Music, Inc.
Elwyn Raymer, President, Church Music Publishers Association- Action Fund
Ed Leonard, Chairman, Gospel Music Association
Gary Churgin, President/CEO, Harry Fox Agency
Barry Bergman, President, Music Managers Forum-US
Jim Donio, President, National Association of Recording Merchandisers
David Israelite, President & CEO, National Music Publishers Association
Steve Bogard, President, Nashville Songwriters Association International
Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy
Mitch Bainwol, Chairman & CEO, Recording Industry Association of America
Pat Collins, President/COO, SESAC
Rick Carnes, President, The Songwriters Guild of America
John Simson, Executive Director, SoundExchange



UPDATE: PC Mag today (Nov. 24) issued a response. The letter, written by PC Mag editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff, is below:

We received the letter dated November 11, 2010 from you and other representatives of the music industry. As there was no return address we are addressing our response to you on behalf of the group.

We are sorry that you are disappointed with our October 27th article. However, please understand that PCMag’s job is to cover all aspects of technology, which includes the products, services and activities that some groups and individuals might deem objectionable. We covered these Limewire alternatives because we knew they would be of interest to our readers. We understand that some might use them to illegally download content. We cannot encourage that action, but also cannot stop it. Reporting on the existence of these services does neither.

We have, obviously, written about many online and offline services, including some that these groups might consider legitimate or “legal.” However, the fact is that some users store and manage illegally gained content in music applications like iTunes. We would not stop covering these utilities simply because some users place illegal or even inappropriate content in them.

To reiterate, PCMag does not condone the illegal download of copyrighted material. We simply report.

Sincerely,
Lance Ulanoff
Editor-in-Chief & Senior Vice President

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