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the Gauntlet

The crime of the masses

Just because it's not the law, doesn't mean it's acceptable

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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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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.

Your assumptions about whos paying for what are very naive. The breakdown works like this...

The artist typically gets around 10% of the price of a CD minus 25% for packaging (even though packaging only costs pennies).

From the artists portion of the revenue, they must pay
A) Marketing Costs
B) Recording Costs
C) Touring Costs
D) CD Production costs

From the Record Labels portion of the revenue they pay
A) Payola (which is illegal bribe money to music stations and DJ's to 'encourage' the DJ's to play their music).
B) A loan to the artists so they can afford to pay what they have too. Emphasis on loan.

So for a band thats done extremely we'll and sold a million copies of their record for $23 a piece, (of which 3$ profit goes to the record store) theres a 25% deduction before the artists get their take, and a 10% deduction for 'breakage'
Leaving the artists taking their take of $1.69 (The record label gets the other 18.31)

Which still leaves the artist with $1,690,000 Until you deduct their expenses.

Most music videos these days with all there new fangled CG video cost from a few hundred thosand to around a million bucks. So in this case we'll assume the cost was around $500,000.

Marketing costs are pricey too, we'll assume $400,000.

CD Production costs would be around 30 cents for a cd so thats $300,000

Touring costs would be around $300,000.

So that leaves our hypothetical band with $190,000. Of which 20% would go to the bands manager and then split between the four band members leaving each member with $38,000.

Compare that with the Record Labels take
$18,310,000.

Most artists live off the T-Shirt sales at the convert =).

Maybe the record companies will stop being so greedy if mass boycotts of their products occur. And most of the 'talent' found by record companies is just trash that is radio friendly, not good musicians. So maybe if they lose a few million (and accountants hate to subtract) they will focus more on musicians that are good and less on the almighty buck.
Now if textbooks were only online...

What I don't get is that in the old days, artists made most their money from playing music live! What ever happened to that? Anywas, thats still not a good excuse, it's merely a point. Also, Myke: maybe you should start thinking about NOT saving images from the internet. I challege you to never use ANY images without permission. Who says that only musicians should make big bucks.

The mainstream record industry has been a hoax since its inception. The shame is some good bands take that route. Oh, well. Too bad for them. Support independent bands and let the rest go to hell.

just trash that is radio friendly, not good musicians.

What does 'radio friendly' even mean? That millions of people like listening to the songs? Why would millions of people listen to crappy bands? I hate Nickelback as much as the next guy, but to say that they are 'not good musicians' isn't as true as saying that you don't like them.

Falice: I second the motion about stopping saving images off the internet. We photographers deserve our fees just as much as the rock stars.

On a personal note, the Medicine Hat College used a 4 or 5 of my photos on their website, 3 on a athletics poster/scheduele,and 6 in a calendar that made over $8000.00 without my permission and they didn't even credit my work. I know how much it sucks when people take your work without permission, and then make several thousand with it. Not getting paid for photos doesn't take food out of my mouth, so I didn't persue it.

How can someone argue for music piracy? By deluding themselves! I'm one of the rare few who can see myself for what I am. I steal music because it's cheap, easy, and I can get away with it. All those who buy music, you're taking one for the team. Because of you, I continue to get my stuff for free. I have no morales or ethics, and thanks to that, I win and you lose. Is it wrong? Yes. Can I get away with it? Why, yes...

When I'm busy downloading illegal material for free, I take several precautions. I have a firewall on my system. All my ports are stealthed. I find open wireless nodes and use other peoples' internet accounts for my evil. I go through a myriad of proxies and anonymizers to ensure that it is difficult to find me. (Even though The Gauntlet blocks postings from the Information Commons, you can get around it with an anonymous proxy - I am currently posting this from the IC) Difficult does not mean impossible - but if I am a slightly difficult target to find, why would anyone attack me instead of someone who types their real name or real email address into Kazaa? Doing what I do is not difficult - but one has to be interested in being safe.

This is a new kind of war, an electronic battle. So far, the authorities have -mostly- been one step behind. Put up one, nay, a fraction of a barrier to them and they'll hunt an easier target than you. Did we learn anything from evolution, and the 'survival of the fittest'? People who are less educated than myself will be hit hard with action by the RIAA.

The only flaw is that if I am indeed the top of the illegal file swapping foodchain, soon there will be no one below me to trade with.

Allow me to demonstrate:
To post to the Gauntlet from the IC, go to http://www.anonymizer.com/services/surf_for_free.html and enter gauntlet.ucalgary.ca - soon, the Gauntlet will find a way to block people from accessing their forums that way. Then we will find a way around that. Ad nauseum. My appologies for using the Gauntlet for this example - I have nothing but the highest respect for you.

Music piracy is wrong. But I will always find a way to get away with it. If I'm lucky, I will never feel guilt and my success will be unparalled.