The other night I was out at a pub with a friend and at one point the conversation turned to music. We where talk about good CD’s to buy and at one point he mentioned Dido. He said he needed to go get her album ‘No Angel,’ that he had been listening to it for a year and it was so good that he needed to buy it.
Been listening to it for a year and it’s so good he needs to buy it. That’s where the RIAA is right. When the Napster case was big news all the ‘free the information’ people and the broke college students argued that when they downloaded music they would trash what they did not like and buy what they did like. The problem is that once you start downloading you find a lot of things you like and you cannot afford them all, or even the few you really mean to buy don’t get purchased because something comes up and you spend the money on something else. Over time you become lazy and complacent with the whole system, the idea of buying the music you are listening to either never occurs to you or you just shrug and say ‘but I have it and it was free.’
This laziness is what justifies the RIAA’s argument concerning the file sharing world. When I first got a high speed connection I downloaded programs and music left and right. Just like every other college student, it was the height of Napster. I did buy CD’s—a lot of CD’s as I have always done but I also downloaded a ton of mp3’s (and programs) which I did not own, I never payed for them. And while I am no friend of the RIAA or MPAA and do agree that CD’s are too expensive, the money goes to the big business not to the artists, etc, etc, etc. The bottom line is I did not pay for the music (or programs.)
After a while I stopped downloading everything but live techno—no copyrights, and even stopped that after a while (I stopped downloading non-free programs because I switched to Linux and they don’t work.) I don’t have any of the mp3’s from CD’s I don’t own, except for the un-copyrighted stuff today.
Music piracy has always happened—at least since tapes came into being. Albums, Tapes and CD’s have always been copied, but copies on tape ware out. Now downloading mp3’s or ripping a friends CD is easy and the quality is good. It’s easy and it’s cheep and in our ethnic vacuum we become lazy and disrespectful of the ideas of copyright. And while the implementation and execution of copyright and trademark law—of all intellectual property law, may have become a toy of large corporations and their lawyers. The ideas behind the laws are supposed to promote creativity and innovation. By not keeping the promise to buy the music we download and like we break the spirit of the laws.