A Simple Breakdown from Four Points of
Idealism (Never Stealing)
When I had about a year clean I was so sensitive to the notion of stealing that if I found money on the street I would put it in a separate pocket and use it as donations to pan-handlers. If it was more than a couple of dollars I would split it evenly among more than one homeless person. This started when I was still a resident at a therapeutic community (read fascist boot camp in the most positive sense possible). At that phase in my treatment I was allowed a certain amount of time outside the compound to go to the library or a 12-step meeting, so finding enough homeless people to split the money I had found on the ground was just another thing to do on my short vacations to the real world. In New Brunswick, NJ the homeless were usually at the train station, on weekends. In New York, where I live now, of course, the problem of finding recipients of random charity is non existent. The point is that I did not feel money I found on the ground was given to me freely.
Oh yeah, almost forgot. The reason I was so sensitive to stealing is that at the end of my active addiction I had taken to embezzling thousands of dollars from the clients of the company I worked for and somehow rationalized it. It was refund money, and it was my job to find the people who had overpaid. They were all doctors and had no time to speak to me. “You don’t want to talk to me?” I thought, “well I’m not getting paid enough anyway…” The company I worked for was huge. All I needed to be OK with taking from anyone was to dehumanize them to an “anything”, like doctors and companies, immediately dehumanizing myself in turn. Needless to say I was in for a rude awakening. Anyway, this post is about stealing as “online piracy.”
Remember when we used to call piracy “file sharing?” By the way, apparently there is a rumor in the gaming community that the new XBox 720 is designed to spot used video games and refuse to play them. Downloading someone’s music from a file-sharing website doesn’t seem different to me from buying it used – you’re paying by being exposed to ads and the publisher has only been paid at the point at which the album was originally purchased. So one can look at any attempt to ban this as an attempt to take away your right to sell your used stuff…
If you ignore the fact that I’m rationalizing you may consider the possibility that an illegally downloaded song was actually given freely to the world wide web by someone who has paid for it. No matter how far down the line that person is. After all the Internet is just another way people can share things with each other. Like when a friend would have an album in the 80’s and would make you a copy on a cassette tape. Without which, by the way, Metallica, one of the bands most outspoken against file sharing, could have easily disappeared in obscurity.
Billions made from recording alone is a relatively recent phenomenon that was a strange side-effect of a lag in technology. In the beginning recording and playing recorded music were equally out of reach for the average person, who listened to it on the radio. By the middle of the 20th century record players got cheaper. Professional recording equipment, however, stayed much more expensive than equipment used for playback. By the 80s home recording on cassette tapes had become accessible, but still had inferior quality to what was available from studios. This ensured that enough people bought records and CDs. This is no longer the case. Entertainment is back to being a circus act.
Now that live shows are the bread and butter of performers again perhaps lip-syncing will become something pointless the ancients enjoyed like vaudeville, and actors will have to go back to doing mostly theater, using motion pictures merely for self promotion. Or not.
Action (What Should I Do?)
The real question: Is downloading and streaming entertainment from sites that have not been endorsed by the artists stealing? Sure. Especially if the specific artist, like Metallica, has condemned it. The product of entertainment has now completely shifted away from the realm of ownership of physical things like CDs. You know what else is stealing? Hearing a street musician play something that you love and not giving him money.
Reality (As Much of the Whole Picture as I Can See Now)
Perhaps in order to be successful in this technological climate, artists need to understand that the best strategy might be to inspire someone to pay for entertainment because the only way to enjoy it fully is to become a part of it by investing in it. Perhaps it has become obvious that manipulating a listener or a viewer to desire something because it’s all the rage will end up inspiring them to steal your stuff. If that’s your thing as an entertainer, it might be time to set up that circus tent and put on that squeaky red nose…
Most Prated Albums 2014
1 Bruno Mars, 5,783,556
2 Rihanna, 5,414,166
3 Daft Punk, 4,212,361
4 Justin Timberlake, 3,930,185
5 Flo Rida, 3,470,825
13 Zedd, 2,828,764
14 Nicki Minaj, 2,681,177
16 Avicii, 2,562,151
17 David Guetta, 2,441,235
18 Linkin Park, 2,352,385
19 Pharrell Williams, 2,336,996
20 Katy Perry, 2,318,740
Anticipated Hip Hop Albums of 2014 in Pictures: