Life, Love and Copyright Infringement

16 Aug

orig. published 11/5/10

So the record industry is at it again!  This morning Yahoo ran a story about
a Midwest mom who has been through three court battles over illegally
downloading 24 songs off of the ancient website Kazaa.  Presently her judgement
stands at $1.5 million dollars with a 4th appeal on its way.  While I don’t
agree with Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s repeated attempts to, in essence, have the
case dismissed, I do agree with her ideology.
Most of us remember when we
were kids and the newest song would hit the radio and you just had to have it.
This was before the Internet and downloading was even heard of, so what did we
do?  We would take some of our allowance and buy a bulk pack of blank cassette
tapes and come home, pop on in the cassette player, tune into our favorite
station and hover with our finger poised over the record button just waiting for
them to play the song.  If you were really smart you would save that .0001 of a
second wasted by having to press two buttons down at the same time and have
everything ready and on pause so as soon as it came on you could just hit the
one button and away you go.  Everyone had their own method to it and it never
mattered that we might miss the first few seconds of the song or pick up some of
the DJ talking over the end of it, all that mattered was that we had the song we
wanted.  I had hundreds of these mixed tapes laying around the house, my best
friend still does and its always amusing to look back over it and listen to what
we liked all those years ago.
I never worried about being arrested or taken
to court, it never even entered my mind and I’m willing to bet it never entered
anyone else’s either.  So why all of a sudden are we sweating someone doing the
exact same thing only a little more high tech?  What is the difference between
downloading a song online and recording it off the radio?  By the record label
standards they are both stealing, they both keep me from going to the store to
buy a CD but for years no one ever said anything about recording the music off
the radio.  And by that same token, for years we would record our favorite
movies on TV on a VHS tape, when electronics got a little more advanced we were
able to record them on actual DVDs and if you were lucky enough to have cable
with one of the premium channels like HBO or Showtime then you got the entire
unedited movie for just the cost of the blank DVD or video tape.  But somehow
this was never considered stealing, but in the end its the same thing, it keeps
us from going to the store to buy the DVD.
So, whats the big deal about?
After all, we’ve all unknowingly been stealing copyrighted material all along,
why now all of a sudden is the record industry all up in arms about it?  I
personally admit, that like so many others, I have downloaded free music online,
never thought anything about it because I was always under the impression that
as long as I was not doing this act for profit then I was not breaking any
rules.  However, technically almost everyone is breaking this law as the actual
copyright law states that you can do none of the following:
*  you CANNOT
reproduce the music or lyrics
* you CANNOT distribute the music or lyrics
either for free, for no profit, or for profit
* you CANNOT perform the
music or lyrics in public
* you CANNOT play a recording of the music or
lyrics in public–even if you own the CD
* you CANNOT make a derivative
work or arrangement for public use in any form
So even that drunk person down
at the local bar singing karaoke is more than likely breaking the law.  Even
with that though, recording artist make only a small percentage of the money
brought in from record sales, the real money comes from touring engagements,
appearances on TV and radio and the vast majority comes from merchandise.  In
actuality artist don’t really feel the affects of the lowered record sales, but
the labels sure do and that is why they are all so mad that they are willing to
take a small town mother of four to court to prove a point.
I say that as
long as I am not distributing the music for profit then I am not really
infringing on anyone really.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have an iTunes account
and that is where I get my music from now.  I know, I know, I sold out, but
really in my case its a matter of simplicity, I have an iPhone and its just so
much easier to connect to iTunes and download on the go but I still see no
reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to download off of a torrent site like Lime
wire or Shareaza, as long as you are not doing it for profit.
Oh, and by the
way, just in case we have forgotten who we have to thank for this wonderful
cluster f**k of a situation, why don’t we all give a giant salute to Lars Ulrich
and the members of Metallica for being such giant pains in the ass and for
making us all just a little more cautious when it comes to downloading that
coveted copy of “I Disappear.”
Salute! **flips the bird**


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