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"What about Piracy?"

Oh no, I said it, the dreaded “P” word: piracy. Today, the major music industry is spending millions of dollars each year to fight piracy. We have seen Sony encrypt their CD’s so you can not copy them to a computer, which was determined to be an infringement on the rights of the consumer. Sony now encrypts many of their CD’s so they can only be copied to one computer with software that must be downloaded from Sony (I wonder how much money Sony is making from that deal?) All CD’s released on major labels now carry a warning from the FBI that piracy is illegal. But what affect does all of this have on the consumer and more importantly, what affect does all the attention to piracy have on the underground bands and companies that rely on word of mouth to exist? In an ongoing series, I am going to examine piracy in the mainstream and in the underground music scenes. In month one I’m going to look at the music industry through the eyes of the consumer.

As consumers we have all noticed the large stickers on the back of CD cases declaring it illegal to make copies of the CD. A majority of us have also ignored this sticker as we made copies for ourselves or friends. An even larger number of people have gone online and downloaded music through programs such as Limewire, DC++ or the infamous Napster. Any way you look at it, almost every music listener has obtained music through piracy. Each listener has his or her own reason, many of them include “I’m poor,” “It’s easier than going to the store,” “The musicians don’t get any money from CD sales” and “I’ll go to their show.” While I have plenty of sympathy for every poor music lover, it should not be an excuse. Second response: please don’t be that lazy. The third response is pathetic. While musicians don’t get a ton of money from record sales it is a lot more than they get from live shows. In general, artists, especially independent or bands on small labels are going to lose money on their tours. Tours are only a way for the band to get their name into the heads of their demographic. Each band is looking to become the band you recognize when you see a lineup at a local venue or a battle of the bands voting list. CD sales are the only income these bands are seeing. Is it right to deny these bands their income? I believe not. I believe these men and women of the indie music scene deserve to be paid for every song listened to.

But you may ask what of the major labels? Those slimy, disgusting labels that control the media, control what band get popular and when they get popular. Do the bands that receive a paycheck from a major label every two weeks still deserve to get our hard earned money? And do the labels that are paying these bands deserve any of our money? That is a personal decision. Personally I do not believe they do. That does not mean I pirate, I prefer to refuse to buy any album that was released by a certain major label. (coughSonycough) I will never condone piracy of music or videos. I truly believe each artist deserves to be paid when their work is being enjoyed. Choose what you enjoy carefully.

Until next month
-Scott Landis