Over the last decade I’ve downloaded my fair share of pirated music. In the main this is music that has proven really hard to otherwise get hold of – album tracks from deleted and discontinued releases, live bootleg recordings, mash-ups, etc. Sometimes it’s when I hear a new song on the radio as much to confirm that I’ve heard the wittering DJ correctly as to which track it was I just heard – but if I like the track I’ll normally go to iTunes (or a CD store) and actually buy the thing.
Stealing music via file-sharing is wrong, I know it’s wrong, but equally I can appreciate why you might do it – and I’m not so naive as to think that everyone else will do as I do and actually pay for it. Even if I know that most of the payment I make in the form of CD sales or iTunes purchases never goes near the artist.
So when you read articles like bit-tech.net‘s UK looks to crack down on piracy, free up formats, I do have a glimmer of a shudder of hope that, for once, a national government can do the remotely sensible thing.
If I buy a CD I am going to point blank refuse to buy the iTunes/MP3 version. Why should anyone think that that is reasonable? Equally if I do rip that CD to MP3/MP4/AAC, it isn’t fair that that CD re-joins the circulation. That even means someone else listening to the CD while you listen to your iPod – that is the nub of the problem. So long as only one copy of the music is in use at one time, I really don’t see the problem. Whether that second/third copy is a back-up, a tape for the car or the iPod, so long as the CD is in its case and on the shelf, then the CD publisher can like it or lump it.
For years my favourite band has been the Barenaked Ladies. With their latest album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, they are really pushing the boundaries of content release – and their fans are loving them all the more for it. On the previous tours, they’ve sold un-DRMed MP3s of the concert within days of the event – trusting their fans to pay for them. They’re good to us, we don’t muck them around either.
People will pay for things – but we can be pushed too far. The UK government isn’t in the pocket of the recording industry and is acting sensibly. The US government, on the other hand, isn’t acted reasonably. Guess who has the stronger lobby groups from the MPAA/RIAA …