One of the CDs I pulled out earlier this evening featured a tiny little small-print notice about copyright law. After thanking the listener for having bought the CD, it moves to an increasingly preposterous list of illicit acts: “using internet services to distribute copyrighted music, giving away illegal copies of discs or lending discs to others for them to copy is illegal and does not support those involved in making this piece of music – especially the artist.” Well, okay…maybe I can see that with the first point, but the second one? Which copies of discs are “illegal”? And the third…how do I know what my friend is going to do with my CD if I lend it? The philosophy utterly overlooks the fact that fandom is spread by sharing and enthusiasm…you’ve got to hear this! this is really cool! etc. In record company world, once you buy a CD, you can only let anyone else hear it under carefully controlled situations (hmmm…I’m not entirely sure record companies would even approve of that: shouldn’t those other folks buy their own copy?), and certainly CDs cannot be lent freely, nor can copies of tracks be made. Back in the day, of course, people would make cassette tapes for their friends of their favorite songs. How much of my collection of legally-purchased music was bought because I came to know and love the artist’s music because a friend made me a tape or CD? I’d guess one-quarter to one-half, at least.
But never mind all that foolish and dubious babble about what’s legal and what supports the musician (musicians hate it when people who haven’t paid for their music hear it and like it – they just haven’t earned it yet, baby). The really offensive part of this little bit of pleading is the next sentence, which reads:
By carrying out any of these actions it has the same effect as stealing music.
With all those attorneys on the RIAA payroll, there’s simply no funding left for proofreaders, it seems…
And you know what? To paraphrase Emma Goldman (sort of): If you won’t proofread, I won’t be part of your counterrevolution.