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Piracy and the Entitlement Mindset, Again

Earlier this week, I sent a link to my previous post on this subject to an old friend of mine. Once upon a time, we were both in local rock bands and fancied ourselves to be future professional musicians.

These days, he has a pretty good job, makes a nice living, has a couple of kids… and gets all of his music by way of torrent tracker sites — and I mean ALL of it. He told me a while back that he hasn’t purchased an album in over 6 years, because “there’s no reason to.”

Really? There’s “no reason” at all to buy music? No reason at all to support the efforts of people who are trying to live the dream that he and I once shared, as well?

In a long (and at times, uncomfortably heated, considering that we’ve been friends for over 25 years) phone call we had after he read the post I sent him, he must have covered every single common rationalization for content pirating that I’ve seen, read and heard since online piracy first became subject of public debate.

I’m forced to paraphrase for the most part, because it was a phone call, I generally don’t record calls from my friends, and he talks pretty fast. With those caveats in mind, the reasons my old pal doesn’t buy music anymore apparently include:

* Copyright terms are too long.

* Record labels make all the money from music sales, and they “always screw the artists.”

* Musicians make all their money touring, anyway, and he still goes to shows (“three or four times a year;” that should more than make up for pirating thousands of tracks by hundreds of artists, right?) so he does support musicians, you see.

* He can’t afford to buy music, and really, it all should be free, anyway.

* Something about Disney and Mickey Mouse (see “copyright terms are too long” above, I think)

* Record labels are “racist.” (I didn’t bother responding to, or asking further, about that one)

* These musicians are all rich (something that will come as news to most of the musicians at issue, methinks)

* Something about the MPAA suing grandmothers, baby seals, combat veterans and/or destitute invalids.

* Something about “try before you buy” — which is particularly interesting for someone who openly admits to not doing the “buy” part, ever.

* All the new music coming out these days is “crap” — but apparently crap that isn’t sufficiently pungent to disqualify itself from taking up space on the massive external hard drive where he stores his pirated files.

* Etc. etc. etc.

As you can plainly see, it’s an airtight argument. I mean, why should anyone pay for a song released last week when Mickey Mouse (something which I had been hitherto unaware was a song) is still under copyright after all these years? That just defies common sense!

The best part of the conversation, to my mind, was him telling me how disappointed he was that I had “abandoned my roots and gone to work for Big Content.”

I had no idea what “roots” he was talking about, so I just skipped ahead to asking him which of DMCA Force’s clients was “Big Content,” because the last time I checked, most of our clients run what are really quite humble little operations, owned by people who have poured their hearts, souls, energy — and yes, their money, too — into creating songs, software, movies, books and various other creative, educational and/or entertaining works.

True, these rights-holders and creators do have the unmitigated audacity to request that those who consume their works pay the asking price for the privilege of consuming them (foul and monstrous creatures that they are), but “Big Content,” whatever the hell that is, they are not.

After about an hour of trying to follow the “logic” (his word, not mine) of my friend’s point of view, I felt compelled to check the faucets at my house to make sure that water wasn’t flowing upward into them from the drain, and watch the sunset to confirm that it still takes place somewhere to the west of my house.

As we agreed to disagree toward the end of the call, I asked him if he still plays the guitar at all these days, and his answer was an enthusiastic “yes!” Not only does he still play, he recently purchased a beautiful, brand-new American Deluxe Telecaster…. a guitar that sells for around $1700.

He can’t afford a dollar per song, but he can afford a $1700 guitar?


On the other hand, if a regular guy like him can afford one, it must be a piece of cake for all those filthy rich professional musicians, right? Riiiiight.