What is this ‘stealing’ of which you speak?

An intern for NPR’s All Songs Considered might be learning a valuable lesson: If you’re going to steal the creative work of others, it’s probably best not to broadcast it on your company’s website.

Intern Emily White penned a column for All Songs Considered this week, and doesn’t see it that way. She writes that she didn’t illegally download most of her songs in her iTunes Library, but it was clear she didn’t pay for most of them either.


But I didn’t illegally download (most) of my songs. A few are, admittedly, from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa. Some are from my family. I’ve swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo (I owe him one).

During my first semester at college, my music library more than tripled. I spent hours sitting on the floor of my college radio station, ripping music onto my laptop. The walls were lined with hundreds of albums sent by promo companies and labels to our station over the years.

All of those CDs are gone. My station’s library is completely digital now, and so is my listening experience.

She’s heard from nearly 400 readers, some of whom think not paying for music is theft, and some who think it’s the nature of 2012. It clearly is, however, a generational conflict, as defined by one commenter.


It’s amazing to me how an entire generation that prides itself on its progressive behavior and how much they all “care” about global issues like economics and the environment will without fail turn around and behave with a callous, me-first rapacity that would leave a robber baron speechless with awe.

The more a progressive a generation claims to be, the more you’d better hold onto your wallet. Yes, I’m bringing up generational issues — because she did first. If she’s going to hide behind her age bracket, that’s where I’m going to aim. Stop pretending you’re sticking it to the man, that you are forever forgiven for anything you may do wrong in your life because you voted for a black guy, that you can get away with anything you like because you’re vegan and wear fair-trade hemp sandals, that your Occupy Whatever cred outweighs your gimme-gimme attitude. Stop pretending all of that nonsense. Just drop the pretense — you’re about screwing those beneath you in the hierarchy while pretending to be on their side.

Commenter Mark Farre, however, discourages a generational tsk-tsking…


The more I think about it the more I believe that Emily was simply voicing a fact of life that many of us older-and-more-precious human beings simply don’t like. Emily is not causing others to steal music. She’s simply reflecting a new Zeitgeist that includes not just technology and music but commerce.

Bashing her (and her generation) is not going to change anything. Better to listen and try to adapt to the new, while still standing for the principle of art as HAVING VALUE.

That said, the analogy to public radio is irresistibly ironic. Public radio is “free” in the same way file-swapping is “free”. Although public radio serves a more civic purpose than making music, it is similarly freighted with very REAL cost. If all public-radio supporters adopted the attitude revealed in Emily’s post (“why should I pay if it’s free?”), well she’s not the only person who would lose her job/internship.

David Lowery, who writes The Trichordist: Artists for an Ethical Internet, has written an extensive response.

Lowery says he teaches — or tries, anyway — college students the economics of the music business, and finds most share Ms. White’s attitude, and have an uncanny ability to rationalize their (lack of) ethics.

But he has a more personal reason for being opposed to the practice:


I have witnessed the impoverishment of many critically acclaimed but marginally commercial artists. In particular, two dear friends: Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and Vic Chestnutt. Both of these artists, despite growing global popularity, saw their incomes collapse in the last decade. There is no other explanation except for the fact that “fans” made the unethical choice to take their music without compensating these artists.

Shortly before Christmas 2009, Vic took his life. He was my neighbor, and I was there as they put him in the ambulance. On March 6th, 2010, Mark Linkous shot himself in the heart. Anybody who knew either of these musicians will tell you that the pair suffered from addiction and depression. They will also tell you their situation was worsened by their financial situation. Vic was deeply in debt to hospitals and, at the time, was publicly complaining about losing his home. Mark was living in abject squalor in his remote studio in the Smokey Mountains without adequate access to the mental health care he so desperately needed.

But Lowery says he empathizes with Ms. White’s generation. “You have grown up in a time when technological and commercial interests are attempting to change our principles and morality,” he writes. “Rather than using our morality and principles to guide us through technological change, there are those asking us to change our morality and principles to fit the technological change-if a machine can do something, it ought to be done. Although it is the premise of every “machines gone wild” story since Jules Verne or Fritz Lang, this is exactly backwards. Sadly, I see the effects of this thinking with many of my students.”

  • Jon

    If I remember correctly, didn’t MPR have a story on a few weeks ago about how music artists don’t make very much money from album sales? Thus groups like Trampled By Turtles selling their albums on Amazon for $5. It was the labels that got the sales money, the bands needed the tours to make a living.

    I raise this not to take any position on the intern’s story, but in reference to the last, sad story. Even if every fan bought their music, would they have seen the revenue? The previously run story would seem to counter the “no other explanation” line.

    Or maybe I’m just making excuses for my own transgressions.

  • d

    What if she had amassed a collection of tapes instead of digital files? Is the argument really about ease and quality of copying?

  • Conner

    As someone that grew up right in the middle of the Napster phase, I went through a stage where I probably didn’t buy an album for well over 5 years. And my music collection isn’t exactly small. But I changed my habits as my disposable income grew. Of course now I find the convenience of a service like Spotify and Rdio actually wins out over owning the music. Of course that comes with it’s own ethical dilemma.

    The question is, how can any industry survive when it’s consistently presenting it’s consumers with ethical questions and not providing an ethical answer that doesn’t leave a sour taste?

  • jon

    Generational gap my ***.

    Baby boomers, remember the VCR? The device that used to be in every home? The contraption that allowed you to “steal” videos off of television?

    Sure you guys couldn’t figure out how to program it, and made it a key pun for stand up comedians every where. But you did record movies and documentaries and then even go so far as play them in schools for children (that generation you are condemning for “stealing”)

    Don’t remember the VCR? How about the cassette tape? Reel to Reel tapes? You know those things you recorded your vinyl records on to?

    If this is a generational issue, then your’s is the generation that started it, and ours is the generation that perfected it. Are you upset about us doing better then you? because if that is the case, take heart that we stood on the shoulders of giants, and learned from those teaching us our “morals.” You know form our parents, that group of people that caused divorce rates to sky rocket in this country.

    I mean no offense to any boomers in particular, some of you I know are great people, and pointing at any whole generation is going to lead to over generalizations. However, I’ve grown sick of the boomers taking credit for everything good in the world and denouncing everything bad.

  • bsimon

    Actually, she wasn’t “stealing”. She was violating copyright, which is a different crime. As others have noted, this has been going on for decades using physical media.

    The entertainment industry is perhaps justafiably concerned about the ease with which copyrighted material can be copied & distributed. But the industry has also successfully extended copyright into a de facto perpetual right that was originally intended to be temporary.

    Copyright is a somewhat more complex issue than the entertainment industry would have us believe.

  • Snyder

    I may be the only Gen-Xer left that still buys CDs. Mostly because I only listen to them in my car and the CD player that came with it works fine for my purposes.

    That said, I agree with Conner for the most part. The record labels need to offer better options to their customers if they want them to keep buying music. Just chastising them isn’t going to change anything.

  • doug sandels
  • Tyler

    All right, I’ll bite, considering I’ve got a music collection near 100gb and at least 2000 tracks.

    I toured with a band for a few years (running their sound equipment), and also worked for a production company for several more years (working with hundreds of bands during that time). Here’s what I learned by watching musicians try to “make it big.”

    You need to think about the music business in terms of business. You have to be both a musician and business person. It’s like being an entrepreneur. If you can’t figure out your business model – how to be successful – then you need to find another line of work. The band I toured with discovered that giving away masterclasses in small-town schools, followed up with a concert at the end of the week was a successful business model for them. CDs weren’t a source of income; they were a physical connection to their fans. CDs were giveaway that filled the gas tank for the trip to the next venue and increased mindshare. Touring – aka performing live was the source of the band’s income, not merchandise or mp3 downloads.

    You need an agent/agency. Whether its college, clubs, the fine arts circuit or whatever, you need someone booking you into venues, then going out to perform those shows. The expectation that you can hide in a studio, pump out albums, and be highly successful is a fallacy that’s developed over the last 70 years, enabled by organizations that have had a stranglehold on the methods of distribution (physical copies aka records, tapes, and CDs; radio; MTV).

    You need to manage your own expectations. The odds of becoming a celebrity artist are against you, especially considering the labels and RIAA have a certain number of “artists” they’re willing to promote at any one time. Don’t expect to have a million-dollar tour bus. Instead, expect to have an old conversion van. Don’t expect presidential suites; stay at hotels with free wifi.

    I write all of this to make a point. MP3s and CDs and records and tapes are not a valid primary source of income for musicians, and it’s an unreasonable expectation that they ever have been primary sources of income. Musicians have always made pennies on the dollar of any album ever released. Copying a CD is not theft – it’s duplication. It’s reproduction. If I take a perfect picture of the Mona Lisa, I haven’t stolen it from the Louvre, I’ve reproduced it.

    Also, it’s too bad that David Lowry had two friends commit suicide, but couldn’t that also have happened if they were painters, realtors, or doctors? Depression and substance abuse affects people from all walks of life.

  • N

    // If this is a generational issue, then your’s is the generation that started it, and ours is the generation that perfected it.

    I have to agree with Jon on this point. Anyone who wants to claim the moral high ground on this issue first needs to prove to me that they know how to use a computer. My father is the biggest copyright infringer I know, and he does it copying movies for friends and neighbors using one of those dual-disc DVD burners. (I don’t even know what they’re called; how’s that for generational differences.)

    If my generation (Emily’s generation) has done more of this kind of “stealing,” it’s only because it was that much easier for us. The technology got better, that’s all.

    Also, don’t forget that there was a time when we didn’t have iTunes and Amazon providing easy ways to legally download music. I buy my music fair and square nowadays, but I’d be a liar if I told you there weren’t still a few tracks on my computer’s hard drive that were acquired during the glory days of Napster.

  • Heather

    Jon, a Gen-Xer here just chiming in to say that while I made a ton of mix tapes — mostly for myself, but some for friends, too — I initially BOUGHT the original format (vinyl, cassettes, cds) to copy, and I bet your folks did, too. Unless they were huddled around the radio/tape player trying to catch a track on American Top 40. ;)

  • Mark Gisleson

    It’s 1939 and a horse-drawn America is getting ready to go to war with Japan and Germany. Horse-drawn? Well, of course! Horseless carriages never caught on because legislators protected the horse industry by forcing car owners to hire guys with lanterns to walk in front of their jalopies, and then taxed gasoline until the economics of hay burners made sense.

    The folks running the recording industries are the direct descendants of the people who opposed airplanes, televisions (stealing from movie theater owners!), etc. Every time technology moves forward, the winners of the last economic go around dig in their heels and fight, and a craven Congress backs their Luddite counter-measures.

    Yes, musicians should get paid, but if you know the history of the recording industry, you know it’s a history of suits stealing from their creative talent. This is not a fight over paying for music. It’s a fight over whether or not your buying music means you have to fork over most of your money to suits who did not write or perform the songs, but who still demand a cut for the truck drivers (laid off last week), the stores (the few still open), and Jimmy who used to go to Watts to pick up the blow.

    A CD costs way less than a dollar to manufacture and package, but the prices never came down. John Carter of Mars was just released on DVD and it’s already marked down to $5 at Target, the same price you’d pay Apple TV for a single viewing. None of this is about the artists. It’s all about who controls the profits made off the backs of the artists. Digital should translate to $3 album downloads, but those cuts haven’t been realized because the profits are larger when the cost is higher, and the labels have fixed their prices.

    It’s been discovered that ASCAP and BMI, the licensing groups, have for years paid the entire artists’ share of their collections to only a couple hundred top bands, ignoring every one-hit wonder band and all the small timers. How exactly is that fair?

    it’s a crooked industry run by crooked people. It deserves to die so that artists can thrive (and since digital came along, there are now more bands and more kinds of music than ever).

    Downloaders didn’t kill Vic Chesnutt or Mark Linkhous (Linkhous in particular would have been a complete unknown had it not been for filesharing). A music industry that has never provided artists with benefits killed those artists by using an inefficient business model that let them pay minimal royalties while incurring maximum profits.

  • michael

    It’s copyright infringement, not theft. Theft implies that the original owner is denied the right of use.

  • Joseph Keenan

    As a young kid I had cassettes. I thought nothing about recording my friends records. As I got into my teens cds became available and all the easy technology that came with it.Since I was a teen I have always heard stories of how corrupt the record industry is, And how artists have been getting screwed for years. The industry has had a bad business model for years. As technology moved on the record company’s did nothing. Years later when the record company’s finally figured what was going on they thought suing 14 year old girls was the answer. I believe artists should be compensated for their work.

  • BenCh

    If musicians are so upset about people “stealing” the music, why do they offer songs for free themselves? A lot of bands offer a song for free for signing up for newsletters, The Current and others have a free song of the day, and I have seen some artists even giving away free full album downloads online. Other websites even offer free downloads- Amazon just had a deal where all you had to do was enter in the code “MP3SFORALL” (or something like that) and you got a $2 mp3 download credit. If this generation isn’t suppose to be getting music for free, why are there so many ways to get it for free (legally)?

    Bands need to get with the times and know that people will share music- and that should be a good thing. I know some people I have introduced to bands and they in turn go to their concerts or buy their music. Having more tours, selling ringtones, and merchandise are they money-makers now.

  • Sean Gilley

    It isn’t appropriate to compare recording albums to cassette tape or movies off TV to copying MP3s. In the case of tapes, there is a distinct difference in quality, while obviously there is none when copying a digital file.

    And while I fully believe artists should be compensated for their work, the current business model of selling CDs or digital music, and having that be a main stream of revenue is not going to survive. Artists are going to need to find other ways to make money.

    It’s very similar as to what is happening in mobile gaming. At 99 cents per game, the great majority of people who write games — even very good games — will never see a true profit. That’s why you see ads. I certainly am not saying that I want ads in music, but simply that there are other ways to make money than the traditional route.

    It’s not optional. Too many kids have already grown up with free music. And if not free, very low cost. And the next generation of musicians will already know that.

  • Chris H

    So if I understand the arguments correctly from most of you, since the cost of copying a digital files is zero, then that makes the content of the file worth zero as well? And artists should just suck it up and tour?

    I would recommend actually reading (or re-reading) Lowery’s response.

    @BenCh – that is called marketing and it is different than someone torrenting a musicians’s entire catalog

    @Mark Gisleson – not every artist releases music through a “greedy” record label and not all labels rip off artists, so how does that fit into your equation? does it mean you have to decide whose music to steal, oh sorry, violate the copyright of based on that?

  • Paul

    Just a point regarding the cost of CDs: the physical disc is inexpensive, yes, but the actual cost of recording the music is not. Studio time is usually in the $300 to $900 a day range when including paying an experienced engineer, and full length records take anywhere from a week to a month to complete (obviously there are exceptions on both sides of the curve). There are additional costs for a mixing engineer (at least $500) to corral all of your recorded sound into a cohesive whole, and then after that your mastering engineer (at least $500) to ensure all tracks are balanced across the record and are EQ’d to maximize listening enjoyment in the car, headphones, stereo system, etc. If you print 1000 CDs with artwork, that’s another $1000-$1500. If you skip the studio and go the self-recording route you are still fronting money for a computer/tape machine, monitors, studio headphones, microphones, pre-amps, compressors, delay/echo units, or similar Pro Tools plugins. And I haven’t even included the musical instruments themselves.

    These ballpark figures are what independent artists or labels would pay. Major label budgets are up to 20 times more. Does this mean CDs should cost $18.98? No. But they are worth more than $5, especially for bands or small record labels paying this money themselves. I have friends who happily spend $30 on beer for a weekend, but $10 for a disc or mp3s that you can enjoy the rest of your life? I guess it is a matter of personal priority.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Chris H., the point is that the current distribution model is broken, and that the people running it are acting out and suing everyone who doesn’t play by their exact antiquated rules.

    Paul, most new acts don’t know what a traditional studio is. You’d be amazed by how many top downloaded acts recorded themselves using their computers. Technology has dropped the cost of everything.

    The current system is broken and needs to be replaced. Our copyright system is abusive, and employs more lawyers than content creators.

    This same battle is being played out in the publishing industry right now. The establishment hates ebooks, and top authors are still published by companies that expect you to pay for their unpaid interns, printing presses, delivery trucks, publicity and layers of management.

    Yet Austin’s Amanda Hocking hit the bestseller lists without any help from any publishers (she has one now, and more power to her!). Before signing any contracts she was making six figures a month on Amazon without an editor, agent, printing presses, delivery trucks, brick and mortar stores, etc. But here’s the real shocker: Hocking’s books are all but invisible at filesharing sites. For $3 or less a book, no one bothers to steal them.

    It’s when you charge $25 for a deadtree edition of what can be digitally copied for next to nothing that people stop worrying about purchasing correctness.

    As for the musicians, authors and other creators who are starving: dude — we’re always starving, and during no period of history have creators ever been fairly compensated across the board. If there are X entertainment dollars out there, wouldn’t the creators benefit from a system that bypasses most of the suits and gets the money to the artists more directly?

  • Chris H

    Mark – the current system may be broken, and artists may not always be fairly compensated in it, but does that mean that it should just be thrown away and artists should feel lucky to get any money at all?

    As much as we may want to hate on the corporate record labels, they have provided services that artists couldn’t afford on their own in the past. There are also plenty of independent labels that treat artists very fairly but are still getting caught up in this.

    of course technology has allowed more artists to bypass the corporate system, but it is not a panacea and there are many issues still to be resolved. not to mention the issue that started this discussion of people taking music without paying for it.

    As to copyright, do you actually think that content creators should have no exclusive rights to their creations? Our copyright system may have been extended to the point of being ridiculous to suit the whims of Disney, but there is some value in copyright for the short term as it was originally legislated in this country.

  • Paul

    Mark, I would disagree with your generalization regarding new acts not knowing what a traditional studio is. I may be behind the times at 25 years old, but I have had the misfortune of being around enough musicians to know the studio is still a desirable option for many and the good ones are booked months in advance. They still produce the best sounding records to many ears.

    You may have missed the part in my original comment about self-recording, and you are partly correct that technology has lowered the cost of doing it yourself. But working with Pro Tools or an equivalent is not exactly a low cost endeavor (unless you steal it and all the expensive plugin packages for free, which is a whole different ordeal). Garage Band is essentially free, but those top artists who record with it usually pay more on the back end to make it suitable for mass consumption.

    The system may in fact be broken. However, I’m not sure that is a good excuse to simply not pay independent labels or artists who are doing things the right way. Artists may always starve, but I don’t really see that as a good rationalize for someone who can afford to buy a computer with which to download their music for free, but refuse to compensate an artist. Again, I guess it is just a matter of personal priority.

  • Paul

    I see some of my comments overlap with Chris H, sorry about that.

  • Paul II

    No offense to anyone, but when did it become accepted that an artist should only need their art to survive? I realize that’s a nearly ubiquitous opinion nowadays, but art, quite simply, is something you enjoy doing. Work, specifically the work done to survive, often has nothing to do with a person’s art. There are perhaps a lucky few, including musicians, athletes, writers, painters, and more, who could combine their art with their life-sustaining work, but the expectation should not be for that ideal.

    I realize that I am not addressing the issue of “stealing,” “pirating,” or whatever else you want to call it. Others are doing a great job of arguing both sides. I only wonder, why does it seem to be an expectation that an artist, regardless of their skill, can make their art, and then sit back and wait for the public to fund their existence?

    Perhaps there’s more than the music industry that’s broken. Many artists seem to think they are entitled to big money if they happen to make enjoyable music. The truth is, that’s not the case. Some do, most won’t. Expecting riches and fame and glory because you make something you like is a mistake (art is an expression of self that should first be enjoyable to self). If people happen to like your personal expression enough, they will pay money for it. Otherwise, work and play are different things.

  • Ben

    There is a simple if imperfect solution for the artists to prevent their stuff being ripped off: Complete ban all recording of their music. Do not engage in any recording whatsoever and only play live events where recording devices are banned in the audience. That will limit the records to a few badly recorded bootlegs and effectively put the art of music back to the way it was in the classical era: Fans can pay to see/hear the act live and other musicians can pay for sheet music so they can play it themselves. Problem solved and this idea is not copywritten so anyone can take it. You’re welcome.

  • Matthew Karlsson

    While I don’t personally condone downloading music without paying for it, the blaming of all the music industries ills on file sharing and piracy has to end.

    Some young kid with a computer and access to bittorrent, kazaa or direct connect, can easily amass a collection of 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of songs, enough to play music for years straight without repeating a single song, without paying a dime.

    The truth is, that the person who can spend $100,000 on songs (at iTunes $1 per song rate) are rare indeed, and even rarer when you consider that the most flagrant pirates are young kids without incomes.

    Files are not like cars. When someone downloads a file, the rightful owner doesn’t automatically lose something. They only lose something if that person was planning on buying it anyway, and for most piracy this can’t be the case, as most kids are going to be limited to their meager allowance, and the iTunes gift cards they get from grandparents, aunts and uncles twice a year during their birthday, or the holidays. (and their probably going to get these anyway, whether they pirate or not.

    So yes, downloading music without paying for it is wrong, but the industry is not losing even close to as much as they are suggesting they are by this practice, and as has been mentioned before very little of that money goes to the artists anyway.

    And when you think of it, is it really any worse than what we did as kids during the 80s? using our boomboxes to record songs we liked off the radio and sharing mixtapes?

    The whole anti-piracy hysteria needs a reality check.

  • matteo

    The music industry is populated by cretins and morons. Instead of innovating they complain. We’re forced to listen to crappy bitrates and compressed to clipped music because sound engineers won’t take advantage of dynamic range available to them through digital. Why does a Doors record sound better recorded than a modern record? We’ve had 40 years or regression in music. Modern music becomes tiresome after a dozen plays because everything is shouted at you. It isn’t worth paying for. The decline in sales is because the record industry doesn’t know how to record music anymore. This is why records have not gone out of fashion, you can’t compress and distort records like you can with digital files because the needle will jump out of the groove. Continue with your loudness war and watch your sales continue to decline. It has nothing to do with ease of copying, it is that digital music isn’t worth anything anymore.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I’m always surprised when people arguing on behalf of the artists fail to acknowledge that in recent years the labels have hurt musicians far more than they’ve helped them. Like Wall Street, labels siphon money from their clients, not to them.

    If you want to support musicians and composers, attend live music events. Concerts, bar bands, lounge acts, etc. Give buskers paper money, not coins.

    Giving money to record companies to help musicians make money is like making a donation to your bank to help underwater home owners. It’s the least efficient way of supporting the people you want to help.

  • Jeff Preischel

    I know the “Letter to Emily White at NPR” link is going around but this post is what’s making me change my stance on the state of the music industry.

    https://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the-old-boss-full-post/

    I won’t say I’ll never grab a file or rip a cd from someone ever again but I’m going to make a concerted effort to pay for more of the music I consume.

  • batchburner

    LOL! Stealing.

    Anyone who uses that word is a brainwashed shill who doesn’t take the time to learn about how technology works, or what the words “copyright infringement” mean, and instead use that time to parrot whatever the copyright maximalist douchebags want. Great job everyone. Especially great job thinking for yourselves.

    Fun fact: the middlemen, those people who put music on discs, are the same ones who sue their customers, DON’T pay artists unless they’re absolutely hugely successful like U2 or Aerosmith, and have absolutely none of your (or the artists) interests in mind, only their own personal income making money off the work of the artists. Thanks for supporting them, the middlemen.

    SOPA/PIPA:The Sequel! Lets make it happen shills!

  • epilektric

    I’m just going to skip past all this ethical argument stuff. Ethics will vary from culture to culture and even generation to generation. What one group or individual see as wrong another will see as right. That’s just people and life.

    So what solution will work within that ethical framework in today’s technological world? The answer is in the cloud.

    So many things are now available on demand through streaming. Our always plugged-in society will increasingly demand a connection to the point of it becoming permanent. Who won that thing a long time ago? I’ll just Google it. You want to see my trip photos? I’ll just grab them off Flickr. Afraid you’ll lose our PowerPoint presentation? No problem, it’s on Dropbox.

    I now stream my music from Google Music. From the cloud. And if I buy a digital album it just stays on the cloud. There is no physical copy. Services like Spotify are on the right track. Selling the actual music in some tangible form is a thing of the past. Whether it’s a CD or a MP3 it’s a “thing” that can be copied. Streaming things from the cloud is akin to a live performance except that it can happen anywhere at any time. And that make copying more difficult.

    I foresee a future where newborn babies are issued a birth certificate and a cloud storage account. Ownership will simply be permission settings instead of possessing things.

  • Chris H

    I wonder about the cloud sometimes. You are paying for space on some companies servers, and essentially you are betting that they won’t go out of business, change terms and conditions, or just turn out to be the kind of business you don’t want to support.

    As for Spotify and similar services. Let’s assume for a minute that all record labels go out of business, then don’t streaming sevices essentially take their place? maybe you could argue its a distribution channel only, but they are setting terms and conditions to the artists the same way a record label did, so what is the difference?

  • epilektric

    @Chris H, You’re correct that if there were no record labels the streaming services would take their place and set the terms. There would be just as much opportunity there for the artists to be poorly compensated as with some record labels.

    I guess the point I was getting at is that making copies of streaming things is harder than making copies of tangible things. Without copying there is no copyright infringement.

    When connecting to a service and streaming something becomes the norm less people will have actual copies. Eventually the idea of owning something will become synonymous with having permission to access it. At that point the illegal trading of copies will dwindle to a negligible amount.

    I don’t think this will happen overnight but I do think it will happen eventually.

  • Halloween Jack

    I’m absolutely flabbergasted that David Lowery chose to connect the suicides of two friends to filesharing. “Both of these artists, despite growing global popularity, saw their incomes collapse in the last decade. There is no other explanation except for the fact that ‘fans’ made the unethical choice to take their music without compensating these artists.” Really? None? Did he do their books? There are plenty of artists who have a lot of difficulty in managing their financial affairs even without struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues, and Wikipedia informs us that Mike Linkous overdosed and nearly died in 1996, years before even Napster existed. Coming up with an extensive list of artists who overdosed or committed suicide at or near the peak of their financial success is literally a trivial exercise. Lowery has no grounds for lecturing anyone on ethics.