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17 March, 2005

P2P's bad, 'kay?

One of the more common types of search term bringing visitors from Google to the Ministry is for music downloads, so I'd better address the subject directly.

I've mentioned that Porcupine Tree released a download-only single of 'Shallow', but a statement that such a thing exists is as much as you're going to get.  Personally, I have absolutely no interest in downloading music, especially that which will be available soon on CD and DVD-A.
No music is offered for download from this site.
I used to trade unofficial concerts recordings on CD-R, but I never participated in bit torrent or other p2p communities, and I couldn't direct people on to more appropriate sites even if I wished to.

That covers legal, paid-for downloads and the sharing of unofficial recordings, but recent searches seem to have been for downloads of tracks from, and indeed the whole of, that imminent album, 'Deadwing', so I'd better clarify my view of illegal downloading of commercial recordings, paraphrasing my side of a recent discussion at the PT Forum.

It's theft, and I don't condone it whatsoever.

It's been a while since I was last willing to buy an album 'blind', without hearing online samples as a guide to whether I'd like it, but I don't regard that as sufficient justification to illegally download a leaked/ripped copy of the entire album.
I restrict myself to the samples (extracts from songs, at low-res, not retail-quality full tracks) the artists choose to provide online. Beyond that, I feel one should take the risk by buying an album, then decide whether to keep it. Sometimes one mightn't like it after all. Tough. Return it to the shop, sell it on eBay (without keeping a copy!) or give it to a friend.

Having said that, I'd be naïve to deny that people are going to download, leading to five possibilities:

  1. Someone illegally downloads and likes the album a lot, and buys a legitimate copy.
  2. Someone illegally downloads and likes the album a lot, and just keeps the download.
  3. Someone illegally downloads and rather likes the album, enough to keep the download but not to pay for it.
  4. Someone illegally downloads and doesn't particularly like the album, but keeps the download anyway.
  5. Someone illegally downloads and dislikes the album, and deletes the download.
I'd tentatively support the first and last, but I take a pessimistic view of human nature, and suspect that the parasites are the majority. I'd find it difficult to believe that someone claiming to do 1) isn't really doing 2), and that someone claiming to do 5) isn't really doing 4). Needless to say, I don't remotely support 2-4.

It's been argued that:

"What's bad is downloading albums and not buying any. I see absolutely no reason not to download full albums, listen to them, and purchase them if they're worth it."
Idealism aside, I'd agree, but what if they're not worth purchasing? If you decide not to buy one, do you delete it? Every single time? Honestly?

I can dismiss two other arguments outright:

I can't afford to buy all the music I listen to.
Lack of money is no excuse. Can't afford it? Can't have it. Simple as that. Pop music is a commodity, not a right.
Record companies are greedy. I won't pay the cover price no matter how much I like the album.
The price is the price. Either pay it, and receive the music, or decline to pay and don't receive the music. You can't have it both ways. I agree that CD prices are exorbitant. That's a reason to complain, campaign or boycott, but not to steal. Rolls-Royce cars are ludicrously expensive. Try stealing one of them then explaining to a judge that the manufacturer/retailer obliged you to do it.


Oh god...a real futurable wonderful charmed me with your style!! It's great, something between matrix and blade runner, a kind of futuristic world grown around the power of information...anyway, personal sensations hard to describe. I'm also into Porcupine's vision of world through their concepts and soundscapes...god...

Posted by giuseppe at March 19, 2005 10:57 PM
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