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Piracy or the Next Big Thing?

fighting piracyThe age-old battle of copyright and artist freedom keeps clanging away in the distance, and are we any better off than we were when DAT machines were castrated in the 80's? I read a report this morning about a UK band called "Show of Hands" who claims they are dependent upon so-called pirates who download their music and share it with friends. This isn't much different than Trent Reznor making his music freely available online (and my wife reports the show here in town didn't look any smaller than the ones in the 90's -- possibly even bigger since Reznor has a new legion of fans younger than us). But the music industry sticks by the mantra "a download is a lost sale, and that is theft." Or, as TorrentFreak puts it, "there is no such animal as 'piracy as promotion.'"

Oh really? This sad, antiquated logic continues to do one thing and one thing only: bolster sales of the top-paid performers while creating a chilling effect on artists who would love innovative promotion but fear free samples will incur the wrath of the mighty RIAA, or worse. It's one thing to send the FBI after some poor schlub who leaks some Guns N' Roses tracks, or sue the bejeebes out of hundreds of college kids, but it's quite another to threaten fair trade when artists (who own their own content, thank you) decide to market in ways they see fit.

The only ray of sunshine could be recent rulings regarding Creative Commons which might allow savvy artists to provide music in the manner they see fit, without the RIAA calling fans of the artists a bunch of pirates. Arrr, matey. At the end of the day there has to be some middle ground, but it's a pity the RIAA and other enforcement agencies see the world in black and white and tend to pull their concepts of ownership from the days when TV's were also monochromatic.

Tags: analysis, copyright, creative-commons, piracy, riaa