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(Untitled Post)
March 07, 2007

With the RIAA trying to crack down on music piracy, I get to hear 50+ year old men calling in to radio talk shows, and chatting about "this generation" in the aisles at Best Buy. Yesterday, one guy was looking for a Patty Griffin CD, but it was missing from the shelf. His friend chimed in with something to the effect of, "It's not like this kid even knows who she is. He probably doesn't even pay for his music." I looked at him, thinking, I just want to punch you in the neck. Just because I'm not past my prime doesn't mean that I don't know jack about music. I can probably name more artists than there are miles on your 25-mph-driving Cadillac. Can you spell Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's name off the top of your head. I can. Can you name even one song from Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast, or Coldplay? Maybe you should get to know me and my generation before incriminating us.

Then there was the radio caller who said that "this generation" (there it is again), is morally bankrupt and thinks nothing of stealing from artists. This generation? Let's talk about your generation for a second. Have you ever copied a record or cassette tape onto another cassette? That, my good man, is piracy. How about using a VCR to tape a movie from the TV, or to make a copy of a rental? Again, piracy. What about the numerous middle-aged men who keep asking me how to get their Itunes videos on DVD. Could it be? You guessed it. Piracy.

Personally, I don't approve of media-piracy. I saw how it nearly destroyed the Hong Kong film industry, and it's scary (in a famous example, by the time the Young and Dangerous 4 premiere was over, you could purchase bootlegs across the street). At the same time, I have to admit to using Limewire, and Napster before it went subscription. I never felt bad about it though, because I was using them as a way to try before buying. The irony of my ethical grandstanding is that nearly all my music, movies, and some games, were bought second-hand. How do I justify it? I like getting cheap stuff.

Computers and the internet have changed the world to drastic degrees. Torrents of information flow through every crack. From cassette tapes to P2P servers, piracy will happen. Give me ten minutes and I can build a simplistic website for you to illegally download a few albums. Or maybe I should just email them to you. Perhaps trying to stop piracy with lawsuits is not the answer. The way consumers view the media industry and its products have shifted, yet the industry expects the methods of distribution to stay relatively intact. I don't have all the solutions, but perhaps it is time to rethink the way media is paid for and distributed.

Most recent blog posts from Brian Rowe...

honestgamer honestgamer - March 07, 2007 (10:37 AM)
The perception of what entails piracy is skewed. I know lots of people who think it's legal to download ROMs of games without consent from the developer or publisher.

It's not.

I know people who will argue until they're blue in the face, for one simple reason: they want to get something for free, so that must make it legal. I've got news for them: just because they want to do something doesn't make it legal. If so, people who want to rob banks could do so legally. It's disgusting.

People argue that they have a legal right to make a copy of something they own. Again, they don't. When you buy a product and part of the terms of its use are that you cannot make copies--a standard with games and movies and music--then making a copy just because you want to is ILLEGAL. Period. You can argue until you're blue in the face. You can hire a fancy lawyer. At the end of the day, it's illegal.

People smirk and say they have loophole laws and whatever else, but the fact is that they don't. What they're doing is illegal and they could be prosecuted if someone decided it was worth the time to do so. That's what it comes down to, though: for those companies, it isn't. Stopping one person from doing it isn't going to be worthwhile at all, unless that person is distributing the illegal copies he has made. So the people who gloat and smirk and say what they are doing is fine, that they have a right, are wrong but will never pay for their ridiculous view.

What needs to happen is that the music industry and the movie industry need to change the perceptions, something they continue working to do. I've seen pastors offer to make a copy of a movie they liked for someone else to enjoy. They've offered to do the same with software, with music. Why? Because they don't understand technology, because they're not aware that what they are doing is illegal. They don't realize it's theft. They think it's sharing.

Once people catch on to how technology works, we'll see less theft. Most people don't set out to be thieves, but technology has them stymied. Many of them still have to ask their kids to hook the VCR up to the TV set because it's a foreign language to them. As perceptions shift, we might see less theft. We might see people buying legal copies of music and realizing that copyright protection is there to keep them from breaking the law. Then again, we might not. People suck.
Genj Genj - March 07, 2007 (11:49 AM)
I think a lot of the problems stems from the fact in general teens and college students probably listen to the most music (otherwise why would crap like Fall Out Boy and Justin Timberlake sell like hot cakes?). The problem is this same age group doesn't have the money to spend $10-15 on each album from the ridiculously large network of artists they listen to. This is bad for the already successful artists (like Lars!) because now instead of selling 3 million copies, they may only take in sales from 2.2 million. For indie artists, this is actually great for them. Beirut plays Eastern European folk, and they've become pretty damn popular considering that. There's buzz about it on myspace, blogs, and articles and people go ahead and download it (and then go to their shows and give the artist 100% of their money). Not many would hear about how "there's this really cool band that plays Balkan folk" and think "damn, let me go down to Best Buy and spend $15 on that!" Of course a lot of crazy indie artists don't seem to care that much about making so much money. Sufjan Stevens told Pitchfork in an interview that he wanted to make his album of extras from the Illinois sessions, The Avalanche, a free download, but his label wouldn't allow it. When asked why he didn't care about people downloading it, he said he didn't need to be rich.

So what I was trying to get before is the fact is kids find it easier to maybe buy albums from the bands they want to support and download the rest. RIAA isn't going anywhere with their random lawsuits (they actually sued some old women that didn't even own a computer). Perhaps the best solution would be a way that you could pay one flat monthly fee and legally download as many albums as you wanted and then the artists would split the money. It'd be excellent for lesser known bands like The Arcade Fire or Deerhoof to get more money and listeners, but I'm sure popular musicians that are still going Platinum and complaining would take a pay cut and therefore be opposed to it.

There's also the fact that the flood of illegal downloads is already well underway and there frankly isn't much of a way to stop it entirely now. The only thing the RIAA can do is scare people away from it, but from time to time, we've seen they're pretty powerless. Even if they do catch you, they've been giving you the option of deleting all your illegal music over any legal action. They're also not very good at observing the lesser known P2P networks. Just Limewire and such. But much to my annoyance someone out there is getting better at stopping leaks. Some albums' promotional and review copies that are sent out months before the commercial release are getting watermarked so the label can find out which copy was used to distribute it. But now we're finding ways to remove the watermark too. It's a vicious cycle.

P.S. - Patty Griffin sucks ass. You should have told him to buy Neon Bible instead.
EmP EmP - March 07, 2007 (12:15 PM)
"Do you see that? That's Lars Cantdrum from crappy metal band Metallica and he's crying. He's crying because you've illegally downloaded his music and now he can't buy a solid gold toilet"

Ad-Libbing is fun.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - March 07, 2007 (01:10 PM)
janus janus - March 07, 2007 (01:35 PM)
I don't want the Arcade Fire getting any of my money. This is why I illegally downloaded Neon Bible. I feel my actions are morally justified.
Genj Genj - March 07, 2007 (01:51 PM)
Janus would rather give his money to Wheatus.
janus janus - March 07, 2007 (02:22 PM)
Wheatus need all the money they can get if they have to take gigs in small UK towns.
icehawk icehawk - March 07, 2007 (04:55 PM)
Actually, recording TV shows is perfectly legal for home usage. You just can't go and sell it or whatever.

As for downloading music, I don't buy many CDs, but I pretty much never would have even bothered trying it out in the first place (I started listening like on my computer here and there a few years ago) if it wasn't for downloading. So count me as someone who buys more stuff thanks to downloading.
Halon Halon - March 07, 2007 (06:25 PM)
Pirating an album is not the same as robbing a bank. Stealing thousands (if not more) of dollars is definitely worse than pirating a $10-15 CD. I probably have downloaded over 500 gigs worth of movies, music, etc, and I don't consider myself a criminal. I'm don't sell it or steal it to make a profit.

To continue what Genj said, most artists actually benefit from pirating, especially the indie artists who need the money. Take Dispatch, for instance. They were relatively unknown, and only played small gigs for people at clubs in New England. Then Napster came out and their music was spread all over the place. The soon became one of the most popular bands in colleges and in 2004 played a gig in Boston for 110,000 people from all over the world, the largest gathering ever by an indie artist. They also recently sold out three shows in Madison Square Garden in about two hours each.
pup pup - March 08, 2007 (08:27 AM)
That video was incredibly interesting. Spaceworlder, how did you come across that?
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - March 08, 2007 (10:39 AM)
It was posted on a blog I regularly frequent.
janus janus - March 08, 2007 (01:03 PM)
The story of that beat is incredible, especially the point about Zero G capitalising on public domain material while ensuring that copyright becomes more restrictive. It's a shame that albums like Paul's Boutique would be too expensive to produce now. He's a little hard on the "art school", though! Squarepusher rocks!

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