Torrents! (Of bullshit)

SOPA won’t wash – hur hur hur

By and large, as a musician I expect to get ripped off occasionally; it’s an age-old occupational hazard.  This is why I’m not too bothered about torrent sites or other internet-based free music distributors beyond my control.  While I might find the principle behind them bogus and annoying, it’s just about possible to accept in return for the (theoretical) publicity it can generate.  And let’s face it, other options are limited.

Just before This Mucky Age was released, a ton of pirate downloads appeared on the net; one of the promo copies was ripped by a journalist and spread like a rash.  The only objection I could think of was that it messed up search results for this site; otherwise it was vaguely flattering, in a creepy sort of way… but begs the question, Why?!?  Somebody even went to the trouble of photographing the packaging.  It’s a decent pic, too; so ironically enough, I’m going to steal it.

While checking this out, I found bands begging to be pirated (the arse-kissing clowns) – either from wanting the extra exposure that these sites supposedly offer, or perhaps to be seen as inside the great big wonderful inclusive internet tent, instead of having a surly wank out in the rain.  And to an extent, there’s something in the righteous notions the… bootleggers?  Musketeers?  Cyber-scamps?… bandy about, of Opening Up Music’s Furthest Horizons Without Hindrance or Limit For Everybody, of sticking it to The Man, etc etc etc (when they bother to make excuses – usually making a bid for the moral high ground).

Still, it would’ve been nice to be asked.  At one point there were 80-odd leaked versions out there; not many in the scheme of things, but enough to say Okay, now you’re just taking the piss.  It can be remedied with a little effort, though: get a DMCA takedown notice issued, and the dark grapes of villainy wither on the vine.  Eventually.

This is why the US House of Representatives’ proposed Stop Online Piracy Act & Protect Intellectual Property Act  are disproportionate and inappropriate.  The main argument against is that these pieces of legislation are so vague and potentially all-inclusive that they could hobble the internet in the name of copyright protection – a concept that, as the proposals stand, can be extended to mean censorship (by blocking) of pretty much anything.  All this in the hands of a closed group of private interests.  But so what?

…After all, it sometimes feels like the www could do with a good witch-hunt purge; times when it seems to consist almost entirely of 2nd-hand crud – endlessly-circulated photos of dogs in fancy dress, people who can’t spell screeding out massive reviews of long-forgotten 80’s horror films, regurg’d gossip and contention, whatever.  Arguably it also devalues musical product – artistically, not just commercially – by reducing it to a bunch of files.  Burn the internet!

Yeah (that’s quite enough devil’s advocacy thanks), then what?  What’s left, other than scorched earth and Adele?  A slippery slope indeed.

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