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08 Feb Music Thievery Laid Bare : When Pirates Rip Off Working Class Artists.

The naked truth of how music piracy hurts working class artists

Guest post on The Trichordist by David Cloyd

Let’s face it. “Piracy” is a loaded word. As Captain Phillips played in theatres last fall, the word “pirate” found itself in a very different context than it did right after any of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. Real-life pirates aren’t funny, quirky, eccentric characters based on Keith Richards. They’re terrifying criminals with a desperate bottom line. And while a lot of people may enjoy dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow for Halloween, nobody wants to be mistaken for an actual Somali pirate.

So maybe it’s time we all took a second look at “music piracy.”

Defined typically as an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea, “piracy” was initially used as slang for copyright infringement because the “pirates” in question were trying to profit from the crime by reselling the product. As the recording industry evolved beyond vinyl, it became much easier for music to be copied for personal enjoyment, and as federal legislation dictated, a mandatory fee was tacked on to the price of blank audio to help account for the loss. What’s more, copying music—or anything else—came at a substantial loss of quality.

But with the birth of digital music, the Internet, peer-to-peer networks, and now the behemoth of social media, there is no such safety net. Digital copies don’t require a physical copy and are indistinguishable from the originals. Coupled with the fact that most people today listen to music on computers instead of stereo systems, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that even major radio stations play low-quality mp3s without anyone noticing.

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