Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Pirates of the Industry

Carl Sundberg
Reasoning with madness
October 09, 2003

The last time I went into a music store, I walked out empty-handed. Not because I couldn't find anything I wanted, but because I couldn't find anything I could afford.

The thing is, I need music. Without it, I have no reason to get up in the morning. I usually start every day with something loud and refreshing, maybe My Chemical Romance or Primus. I end the day with something somber and peaceful, such as Bill Frisell or Aphex Twin. I'm a music addict and like any type of junky, I need my fix. But to hell with dropping a twenty note on the counter for a CD that might have four or five good songs on it at best.

Sometimes I try to listen to the radio, but I can only hear Nirvana so many times; I hate Britney Spears and I can't get any good stations -- like KRVM-FM or KWVA-FM -- to come in at my house.

A friend of mine suggested downloading music, but I aptly reminded him that the Recording Industry Association of America is suing the dook out of anyone and everyone they can get their greedy hands on. I haven't downloaded music since I caught wind of this villainous tactic.

The RIAA has a lock-down on many peer-to-peer servers these days, and anyone who's downloaded 1000 songs or more is a potential target. They don't care who you are. Last month, they made an example out of a twelve-year-old girl, Brianna LaHara, forcing her to read a statement of apology and making her parents pay $2,000 in damages. This mad raid by the RIAA is all in the name of fair business practices.

It's just not right.

By attacking the music fan, the RIAA drew attention to illegally downloading music. What it has actually done is made things worse -- they've started a war. On one side is big business. On the other, the music fan.

Personally, I've probably downloaded around 900 or more songs in the past couple of years, which puts me in the cross-hairs of the recording industry.

Like that twelve-year-old girl and hundreds of millions of other people across the nation, I am an enemy in the eyes of the recording industry. I am a pirate. Which, for me, is actually kind of cool. Maybe I should download a few hundred more albums off Kazaa. Maybe I should get sued by the RIAA.

Then when I go to court, I could dress up like a pirate. I could get a patch for one of my eyes, a parrot for my shoulder, cut off my right hand and install a hook. I could address the judge and jury with, "Arrr, matey. Shiver me timbers!" or "Well, blow me down, this jury be high says I!"

Of course, that might be a little out of hand for the occasion, and the court might hold me in contempt. Or maybe even skip the whole "suing" thing and throw me right into federal prison just to make another example.

But the media would not ignore such an event. With the attention this would get, I could hold a benefit festival with bands like The Wailers, Beastie Boys, The Roots and Rage Against The Machine (they would get back together just for the occasion).

They could get the crowd chanting, "Free the rock 'n' roll pirates of the world!" or "Stop the RIAA!"

The whole world would come together like the original Woodstock. People across the globe would revolt against the big five record labels (Warner Bros., Sony, EMI Music, Universal Music Group and BMG) and the RIAA, causing them all to go bankrupt. Music would finally be set free for people to enjoy and cherish.

Honestly, I don't want it to go that far. I just want good music for a good price. I want good outlets for free music. And with Halloween upon us, I want a pirate costume.


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