Anybody remember this one?
When I was in high school we bought our music on circular discs of soft plastic that had to be handled with extreme care. To listen to the stuff on the go we had to copy it onto cassette tapes, and the record industry responded to this growing industry by starting a campaign using the logo above.
Well, home taping didn’t kill music.
Perhaps more importantly, something really bad did happen. My most treasured albums wore out, or got scratched and became unplayable. So I had to go and buy new copies. When I bought the new copies I paid for the materials, the distribution, the costs of operating the record shop, and a fair profit for all concerned. I also paid AGAIN for the right to listen to the music.
It didn’t matter that I had already paid the copyright owners for the pleasure of using the fruits of their labours. I was still required to pay twice.
And when I moved to CD format I paid again. Does anybody remember the fuss about CD’s being insanely more expensive than vinyl even though they didn’t cost much more to produce? There was a lot of justifiable anger at the time from people who felt they were being gouged by the record companies, although few of us really thought about the copyright issue.
In some cases I’ve replaced CD’s more than once as well, so I’ve paid four or five times for the right to listen to some pieces of music. In the UK now it is illegal to copy a CD onto any media, even if you’ve paid for it. So if I wanted to copy a piece of music that I have already paid for many times so that I could listen to it on an MP3 player I would have to pay again for the privilege of downloading it from Steve ‘the bastard’ Jobs.
Meanwhile, huge numbers of people worldwide continue to make music. Few of them have any hope of ever making any money from it, yet they continue. Other artists paint, write, sculpt, dance, and so on. As Edgar Allen Poe said:
The world is full of people expressing themselves and enriching everyone else’s life in the process without trying to extract the maximum benefits from the general public. And a bunch of talentless wankers only motivated by profit are doing their best to kill art by turning it into a commodity that can be controlled, packaged, sold, and defended using the law as a club with which to beat people.
Having paid over and over and over for more than a quarter of a century I have no sympathy for the music industry. I’ll copy and download music I’ve paid for with a clear conscience.
“Home Taping Is Killing the Music Industry: Killing Ain’t Wrong.” - Rocket from the Crypt
“Capitalism is killing music - pay no more than £4.99 for this record” - Billy Bragg