The crime of the masses

By Myke Atkinson

It would be hard to find anyone who says they aren’t affected by the music they listen to. Everyone can remember the first album they ever bought, or the time their friend played them what was to become their new favourite band. Just look at the unceasing changes in people’s musical tastes from junior high through high school and it’s obvious that music provides a sense of self and culture to any person who listens to it. Whether it’s by having a good time on the dance floor with some friends or on a quiet drive out to the middle of nowhere on some starry evening, music provides an important, almost constant, soundtrack to our lives.

Recently, however, there has been a growing trend that truly makes no sense to me.

Some people have decided that even though music plays such a large role in their lives, it has no cash value to them and they would rather steal this music from those who worked so hard to create it. In the past couple months I’ve read article upon article of different people trying to validate their actions. I’d just like to say that no matter how they decide to justify downloading music it is still wrong.

One of the funniest strategies I’ve heard people use to justify their thieving of music is the argument "we have a right to music," either because (a) they pay a small premium of about 50 cents to the recording industry for each recordable CD they buy, or (b) they don’t have the money to buy all the music they want.

As to the first excuse–I mean reason–can they really think that by paying 50 cents per album the artists, managers, lawyers, song writers, record labels and extra musicians are able to pay the expense they incurred in bringing that music to the market?

Secondly, doesn’t it seem a little naïve to think that just because you don’t want to pay the amount being charged for something you have a right to get it for free? I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think Henry Ford would have thought you should have one of his cars simply because you found them too expensive or you didn’t have the money.

Then again, I might be wrong.

I’ve also heard some people say they don’t purchase music because they feel the system of payment leaves artists with too little a percentage of the profits from album sales. It seems to me that by not paying for music artists will receive all of $0.00 from the contribution of these proud protestors. While I’ll admit I haven’t taken a logic class in school, some money sounds greater than no money. Logic aside, can they really think they’re making a positive statement about the plight of "starving artists" by downloading music?

I didn’t think so.

My personal favourite excuse is the one from people reading into copyright regulation. They claim to be "law-abiding citizens" who would never download music if the government said it was illegal (yeah, right). So they somehow prove to themselves that "no, it’s not illegal to download music in Canada" and this means it’s fine and dandy to take what isn’t theirs.

Looking back through history, I can’t think of a single time the government and its laws weren’t up to par with what is honest and good. Racial segregation and unequal rights for women must have been morally just up until the time they were outlawed, right?

That’s what I thought.

Oh, and let’s not forget those big bad record companies who are only in to make a profit and don’t care about the music, blah, blah, blah. The last time I checked, it costs money to record, press and distribute an album. It costs even more to get that disc on the radio and into your favourite magazines. And we shouldn’t forget sending those artists out on the road–that’s something of an expense as well.

Now, heaven forbid a business go through all the trouble of producing and publicizing a work of art, and then think of getting paid for their hard work. That’s just plain crazy.

By downloading music, people are hindering the development of the artists they enjoy and the future of a business that has brought them so much in the past. It doesn’t matter whether you listen to Britney Spears, Slayer or B.B. King; every artist deserves to be paid for the work they create. It’s your duty to be passionate about the music you listen to and support the artists and the industry that is such an important part of your life.


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