Yarggh. Music Piracy

Music lovers are divided into two camps about music piracy. One is, “music piracy is an abomination.” the other is, “music piracy is healthy.” I belong to the latter. For legal purposes, I will not point anyone in the direction of piracy, this is not a how to post as so much as a philosophical one. First, we must discuss what music piracy is defined as. Next, we must discuss what does it do for music. Finally the big question, which is who cares.

Music piracy is the unauthorized downloading, distribution, or selling of copyrighted music. That makes total sense, right? Well, not really. Music piracy is probably the most interesting phenomenon for lawyers and the most paying due to the complications that occur. Hundreds of copyright lawsuits have been dealt out by the RIAA for people “illegally” downloading music. Stealing music today, though, is not quite stealing music as it was 50 years ago. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, you had to walk into a store empty handed and walk out with a few albums with no currency exchanged for a theft to occur. That is truly stealing music, there is a limited number of albums in that store, you have taken one without consent. The internet makes an easy fix of this. There is no scarcity or limited supply. Downloads aren’t theft, an item is being taken away from one place to another, it is being cloned. Downloading a song is equivocal to walking into a store, looking at an album and having one magically pop into your hands, a complete clone out of thin air. If you can create an infinite number of copies of something, have you really stolen it? Another metaphor is if you look at a nice car, close your eyes, and an exact replica with a title and registration in your name appears  on the street and the keys in your pocket, is that stealing as well? Using a term to applicable to tangible goods does not necessitate that it is applicable to digital ones.

One of the first acts of recorded music piracy was conducted by non other than Mozart. Yup, classical music’s poster boy stole music. The story is that at the age of 14 good ol’ Mozie (as nicknamed by my music teacher)  heard “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegri in a service. He later wrote it down by memory after hearing it only twice. The Vatican was very strict about punishing those who wrote it down or performed the piece outside of service. We know music piracy has been in existence. I tell this story because of how ridiculous it is. Mozart was smart enough to be able to take a piece of music and share it with others, which really isn’t a crime. The whole idea of music is to share it. File-sharing (torrents) allows this freely and connects people faster, therefore, it shares musical ideas faster.

Miserere mei, Deus

Who really cares about this issue? A band normally is just happy to get exposure, recognition, and sold-out shows. Who really suffers are the middle-men, the labels and iTunes. Support the artists you love by buying their products if you truly care, if not, don’t buy their products. However,pirating anything that’s on the top 100, really isn’t going to cause any harm whatsoever to music. Music will always find a way.




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