I’m listening to Angela Bofill on YouTube and remembering how the internet completely broke and built what I knew of music. I’m always telling my brother how things were in the ’90s when you could simply visit websites like Audio Galaxy and just grab music *gratis* from a catalog page organized and charted beautifully by artist, genre, popular movements in music, sub-genre, similar artists, musical innovators or disciples.
Free of the influence of MTV, labels or radio, there was no limit to what artists, producers, songwriters or styles you could discover just by tugging at the associations between your favorite song and music available on the site. Such tugging is now known as theft and draws the ISP/Telecom Industry’s Warning Letters and the RIAA’s attorneys; but hey, the hard drive I used to store all that music I took died years ago and I’m still buying CDs and vinyl trying to put my collection back together, with good sound quality this time.
When discussing the copyright infringement issue, you often encounter analogies such as these to describe unauthorized downloading:
Would you pick up produce from a farm and walk away without leaving money for what you took? Most certainly not! You wouldn’t deprive a hard working farmer from his rightful income. Likewise, if you violate copyright law, you deprive a composer of the royalties derived from the purchase of their work. Think about it!
There’s truth in the comparison, but if food law were like copyright law, I’d be sued for feeding my friends the broccoli I bought from the farmer, because I made it “available” to the “public.” Plus this type of characterization hides the truth that many musicians and composers neither receive royalties for residual sales and radio plays nor do they hold the copyrights.Typically in these cases the people who did the work and the people filing the legal action are not one and the same.
On the other hand, recorded music can be consumed, used or shared among many people without the typical consequences of such consumption–food gets digested… clothes fade… gadgets break down… When a friend has a flash drive I can share my music without losing it. So the copyright holders ostensibly lose that marginal dollar every time I share my music.
But considerations of this sort don’t jump start imaginations and set people off on new journeys. Give people the ability to freely string together the things that spark their imaginations and the outpouring of support will make the music makers all the richer.