Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace.

As a general rule, I try to keep out of posting things about the government or politics out of this blog. This blog is a way for me to express my complete and utter insanity without fear of rebuke from my employer, my customers, or my family members.

But I'm going to have to break my never actually declare rule and speak my peace.

I am a musician. My life is lived in, around, within, about, and through music. As a musician, I have never in my life stolen or pirated someone's music. But I don't pretend that I don't understand why people do pirate music. It is expensive, and the Artists themselves hardly make a profit on the purchase. It mostly goes to the label. 

And there are plenty of laws and regulations in effect in the United State right now that protects the copyrighted material: books, movies, music, pictures. All of it, protected.

And now the Government is considering passing a monstrosity so severe, if you pirate a song by Michael Jackson you will be served with more prison time than the doctor responsible for killing him. Prison sentences for copying what amounts to $.99 of data. Seriously?

And censorship of the Internet through government inflicted Firewalls for posting copyrighted pictures? Videos of cheerleaders doing dances to music removed and cheerleaders prosecuted for the videos being created in the first place? Marching bands unable to share their contests on YouTube because they play copyrighted sheet music that they paid for, but the rest of the world didn't pay to see? Couples sharing videos of their first dance as a married couple at their wedding will be prosecuted for their recordings.

Do you see where this is going?
Music controlled by money grubbing people who are already wealthy when it isn't their choice. Because would the artist begrudge a pirated song when the kid bought several t-shirts that they made money off of? Isn't the idea of art to share it with the world? To have it reach all people on all levels? 

Let's not fool ourselves here. This SOPA Bill isn't about Justice reaching out a hand and punishing thieves. This is about giving more money and rights to corporations who are a minority of the population with a lot more money than they need. This is about the buying and selling of Democracy. It is a slap in the face to Lady Liberty, who has stood with her beacon raised for decades as a symbol of freedom, Justice, and Democracy. 

You want to crack down on the people who steal music and movies? Fine them. It's the same thing as stealing a movie or a CD from a department store. Give them a fine, community service, a few days in jail. But do not attempt to control what we can or can't see on the Internet. We have a right to the Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, and Press. The Internet is a new form of Press, Speech, and Assembly, and you can't censor that. 

You people are insane if you think we won't riot in the streets over this. I will happily spend my vacation days to camp in a tent outside of the Congress to let my voice be heard. I wrote letters. I have signed petitions. I have e-mailed. I will make calls. I will not go down without a fight, and I urge you all to do the same. 


  1. This brought me to tears. BRAVO, sweetie! BRAVO!


  2. The sad part is, the record companies give more of a shit about the piracy than the artists, most of the time. Even the Metallica and Napster incident got fucked up in interpretation.

  3. A lot of artists are saying they will serve out their contracts with their labels and then they will sell and record their own music. It will make prices lower for the fans and will increase their own profits, since only about seven percent of anything goes to the artist, who in turn gives ten percent of that seven percent to a manager.

  4. Yeah, that was the thing to do back in the day--start a record company. and lots of them did it. Sad part was, Rapper Master P got so damn greedy and churned out a bunch of shitty rap albums from equally terrible artists.

    And before that, Prince had to drop his birth name temporarily because of the shit with warner bros. As a result, his own label released "emancipation" (a triple album) and it was sold cheaply.

  5. For ever five awesome, honest musicians you will find a sell out looking for a way to make a buck. Musicians, despite how much we'd like to believe we're above all of that sordid stuff about money and fame, are just like everyone else. Some are good, some are lazy, some are greedy. It's life.

  6. I agree.

    I mean, I suppose I can see them cracking down on pirated music, like limewire and napster and stuff like that (although I've used those things plenty in the past). But this idea of pulling people's personal videos because a song is playing in the background is just asinine. It's the product of politicians that have gotten way too carried away with the issue, and small-minded bureaucrats who've drawn a line in the sand and are too dumb to comprehend the nuances between an illegal distribution of a copyrighted work and the fact that a popular song is going to inevitably be subjected to SOME degree of public exposure and you can't expect to collect money from ever friggin' ear that hears it! How about a guy who pulls up outside my house with his radio a little too loud, and I catch a snippnet of the song he's listening to? Is he guilty of bootlegging? After all, I didn't pay to hear that song. Really, is that anymore ridiculous than banning someone from posting wedding videos because they're dancing to "Sometimes When We Touch" and you can kind of hear it over the sound of yelling kids and people talking?

    I wish these idiots would stop worrying about crap like this, and work on getting us all healthcare.

  7. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that any musician who's against bootlegging and pirating is automatically a "sell out." That's taking things to the other extreme. Like you said, people expect artists to be above any kind of petty material concerns. But they deserve to make money from what they do, just like anyone else, and people shouldn't make them feel bad for that. If I published a book, I wouldn't want someone else to just start printing their own copies of it. That would be like someone taking my paycheck and cashing it and keeping the money, just because I left it sitting out. Does it really make any difference if I'm getting paid to work on a book or paid to work making plastic?

    Here's the funny thing, though - and I'm sure it's the same in the music business. As a newcomer, starting out, you would WANT a certain amount of exposure, a certain looseness with the distribution. I would want people to loan a friend a copy of the book. I would want someone to quote an excerpt in an article of a video or whatever. If there's an absolute, rigid, lockdown on copyright that's as extreme as this SOPA, it completely stifles any kind of word-of-mouth or "viral" spread of new material. Continuing with my analogy, people like Stephen King or Anne Rice wouldn't mind this, because they have a build-in audience and an established market. They would be all for this kind of thing, because they've reached a point where casual distribution is more of a liability than an asset. Meanwhile, for anyone new, it becomes impossible to make their mark. They're silenced by a bunch of bureaucratic red tape.

  8. Word. Just...word. Every digital song file I have on my computer was taken off a CD that I owned so I could upload it to a mp3 player. Now that there's Pandora and such, the need for all those song files is mostly pointless. Still keep them on an external drive, just in case. And I certainly understand the need for protection of copyright, but this isn't the way to do it. Not even close.

  9. "But it's Piracy!" he said, his eyes wide with alarm and concern. "Piracy is bad and we all must drop whatever we are doing to stop piracy."

    All the more reason we need to elect some younger people into office for a change. People who actually understand our world. Not just glib lawyers who were raised by nannies.

  10. Chanel,

    This was such a beautifully written post. I wish I'd worked through my Google Reader to see it sooner. You have a gift, such a gift, a real gift-- this really touched me. CHRIST, that sounds so cheesy. Please bear with my girly emotions for a second. I loved this. So well-written. No revolutionary flag-waving, join-my-side-or-else. Logical, poignant, gorgeous.

    I've read so many writers' and artists' pleas -- it was so wonderful to see one from a musician, and one from a wonderful writer at that. I'm sharing this post.

  11. Bryan, I don't think musicians who take a stand against illegal downloading are sellouts. The ones who produce their own music at their own expense who take a stance against are in the right. They make their music affordable and make a bigger profit, and people stealing THEIR music makes a HUGE difference to them. But they also understand the importance of word of mouth. Atomic Tom only took off after a video of a bus performance they did went viral, and I loved it so much I went out and bought their entire CD. You're right, things have to be shared to get a chance to take off in the beginning.

    Joshua, I've got songs on my iPod that I uploaded to my computer from CDs, and that's legal. It's not like you're burning the songs to other CDs and then selling them to people or anything. (Which would be a crime.)

    Rev, yeah. We need Al Gore. He invented the Internet. He'd be able to understand. (That was utter sarcasm. Al Gore did not invent the Internet.) Seriously, though. Why do we elect these idiots? They can't even tell the difference between a Mac and PC.

    Nicki, thank you. You obviously forgive my errors. I was filled with too much purpose to care for proof reading before posting. I don't think you'll ever get any revolutionary flag waving from me. I'm a follow the rules kind of girl, until the rules stop making sense, and then I just say what I think. Some laws just don't make sense. I probably would have posted about it sooner, but it was only introduced in October and I didn't think it would make it this far so quickly. It's like they put a rush order on it or something and tried to sneak it by everyone...but that's neither here nor there. I'm very glad it made my point clear. That's the part that matters.

  12. Al Gore didn't invent the internet??

    I'm all for "borrowing" music. Or books. Or TV shows. Isn't that what we do when we stream a video on Netflix or music on Pandora or even check out an ebook from Amazon? I'm just spitballing here ('cause Netflix probably doesn't count since you're paying for the service), but I know for sure that every CD I've listened to from a friend or borrowed from the library has only led me to purchase more music as I discover more cool artists.

  13. I don't think borrowing a CD or giving someone a CD is illegal...I think it's making a copy. But then why do we have CD burners in the first place?

  14. Well said, girl. :)

    I think all this crazy legislation has gotten way out of control. It's madness! Way to stand firm.

  15. Thank you. I'm rather proud that I participated in the (at least temporary) death of SopaPipa.


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