Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stealing Music is Not a Free Speech Issue

You couldn't find a straight answer here if you tried:

I don’t regret my time in the “Free Culture” movement, and I still broadly believe in its tenets—that stringent enforcement of intellectual property law does more harm than good, that the freedom to “remix” has created many great works of art and commentary, etc. But, like Jaron Lanier, I’ve come to have a mixed view of the results of treating “Free Culture” as a black-and-white good-vs-evil battle.

Much like how I, like pretty much every other dude on the Internet, once unquestioningly championed “freedom of speech” as the highest of all human values and “censorship” as the ultimate evil, only to eventually find out that “freedom of speech” without limitation has turned much of the Internet into anunredeemable cesspool of lies, abuse, and outright crime.

Same with the idea of truly “free” cultural creativity. Yes, philosophically speaking, ideas shouldn’t belong to anyone, they should belong to everyone who passionately cares about them. Yes, it’s infuriating when someone makes something beautiful, or hilarious, or just plain cool and it gets shut down because of “the lawyers.” Yes, part of me would love it if the world looked like a giant free-for-all forum where anyone could fearlessly remix anything they liked.

Arthur Chu is one of those Napster kids who refuses to learn anything from the last decade and a half of utter chaos in the music industry. You'd think that a gamer would get it, but Chu doesn't even pretend to care about the destruction of the business model that used to support musicians.

I've never heard any of these clowns admit that the free music era killed the music industry and enriched the companies that sold Internet bandwidth, computers, MP3 players and the software that allowed people to rip and "remix" songs. Of course, you had to buy all of that stuff--none of that was free. The only thing that was free was the thing that made everything else so desirable. No one would have bought all of those MP3 players if the songs that went on them had to be paid for. No one would have remixed anything if the licensing fee for doing so was a dollar. Come on.

Apologists like this were wrong then (and Lars Ulrich remains one of the few people in the last half of a century who can rightfully claim that they were right and all of his nasty, bought-and-paid-for critics were wrong) and they're squirming now because the data proves they were wrong.

Here's the kicker, though:

Because yes, as a fan, and as an Internet-addicted device-addicted 21st century digital boy particularly, 1989 not being on Spotify is annoying. It’s annoying to not be able to seamlessly “pull up” any Taylor Swift song I want to listen to at a whim. It’s annoying to hit that speedbump of having to stop and think about whether I want to listen to this particular song right now and realize that if I do, I have to dig into my pocket and give her a whole $1.29.

What a fucking lame ass. Chu wants everything that sucks ass to be free so he can find something else to whine about. What a pathetic loser.

Taylor Swift is what you get when everything turns to shit.

I mean, holy goddamned hell. We used to revere Gods. Do you like the guitar? There are a hundred people who can play that instrument at the level of a grand master. Same for everything else--but that is dying off. There is no need to learn how to play because you can't make a living in music anymore.

We used to have whole genres of music that were incredible. Imagine a world without reggae. We used to have the ability to go to these places called record stores and ask real experts what was new and good and what was old and worthwhile. We used to have to buy Led Zeppelin records on vinyl. There are whole entire Sonic Youth albums no one will ever stop hearing. There was a thing called Nirvana once. You can listen to Iron Maiden and never get bored if that's what you want. There are now 24 albums by The Church and they are all brilliantly executed and full of joy and mastery. There is still a way to buy all of the albums made by the Jam. You can throw in a dozen other great artists and you don't even have to bother arguing that "old" music means anything because music doesn't age because it is art. The Replacements are back together. You can see Ride live if you live in Europe this coming year. You can acquire the entire R.E.M. catalog and enjoy it or ignore it.

Now we have to worship at the altar of a nutbag twenty-something airhead, all so Arthur Chu can wallow in his hard-luck stories about having to pay someone for a product they don't want to give away for free.

I guess I cannot relate to a man in his thirties who complains about having to pay $1.29 to hear a Taylor Swift song. You couldn't give me fifty bucks to willingly sit in a room and listen to a Taylor Swift song. I guess there's something wrong with me and I guess the world prefers shit to everything else.

Obligatory forehead slap.

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