Artists at Juno’s on ‘theft’

One of the only awards shows I watched this year was the Junos, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy’s. It wasn’t a bad evening, and I really enjoyed seeing the surprised reaction of Sam Roberts all 3 times he went up to the podium to pick up some hardware. Great to see a decent local band get Rock Album, Album, and Artist of the year. I haven’t heard the album, just the hits, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard and may even purchase We Were Born In A Flame – so long as he doesn’t accuse his fans of so-called “theft”. So far so good.

The same can’t be said of the Barenaked Ladies, among other artists, when asked what they thought of last week’s ruling by Mr. Justice von Finckenstein that filesharing is not a crime in this country. Ever since Metallica made it fashionable for some musicians to call their fans thieves back in the those heady Napster days, I have a policy never to purchase albums by bands who slander their fans with words like “thief” or “pirate”. Luckily, I have never and will never own a Barenaked Ladies album. Nor will I ever buy their albums as gifts for people. Oh, and in case I get called a thief for not buying, I don’t even download music I like, and certainly wouldn’t go to the trouble of looking for the Barenaked Ladies online.

CBC’s The Current had clips of certain artists giving their opinion on the filesharing issue, and Sarah McLachlan wins the award for the most lucid and sane explanation of why filesharing is popular and actually good for artists and fans alike.

[The music industry] had their heads in the sand for a long time….They’re realizing a little too late that things have to change dramatically…Sharing music is fantastic. That’s how people hear about new artists. That’s how music gets spread. The music industry has to find a way to get on board and work within those parameters or they’re going to get left behind.

Beautifully put, Sarah! You’ve justified my buying your latest album for my sister this Christmas.

I was listening to The Current’s clips of 5 artists giving weighing on the filesharing issue, and after Sarah McLachlin’s words it was downhill as I heard the guy from Barenaked spew nonsense about people stealing his music. Apparently, he doesn’t actually know the meaning of the word.

For his and the benefit others, I provide this definition from dict.org:

Theft \Theft\, n. [OE. thefte, AS. [thorn]i[‘e]f[eth]e, [thorn][=y]f[eth]e, [thorn]e[‘o]f[eth]e. See Thief.] 1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.

Note: To constitute theft there must be a taking without the owner’s consent, and it must be unlawful or felonious; every part of the property stolen must be removed, however slightly, from its former position; and it must be, at least momentarily, in the complete possession of the thief. See Larceny, and the Note under Robbery.

The music industry is resorting to Orwellian ‘newspeak” tactics and calling a spade a rake. Call it copyright infringement if you will, but don’t call it theft, because sharing your files on a computer network just doesn’t meet the standard definitions of theft.

Back in the days when I actually bought more than a handful of albums per year (sometime in the early 90’s), I would make tapes for people and they would make tapes for me and that’s how we got into bands. We shared the old-fashioned way – analog. Nobody called it theft then, because it wasn’t. Now that the peer-to-peer networks have emerged, sharing music digitally is now being called theft, though it’s exactly the same as analog sharing, just larger in scale.

So what do these musicians who call their fans thieves think about Wilco, who, before they even released the masterpiece that is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, released it for free download on their website. This album has turned out to be their biggest selling album to date. I love this album so much I make copies for anyone who wants to hear it, because as a fan I want people to buy this album. They won’t hear it on the radio, so how else are people who don’t know the band going to hear it?

I got into Wilco back in ’97, when a good friend made me a tape of AM. I eventually went out and bought the album twice, once for myself and another for a friend of mine. I’ve since bought all of their albums. This is how people get into music. When we listen to music not favoured by Big Radio, how else are we to hear these bands? Word of mouth, websites, newsgroups, and then peer-to-peer networks.

Music, like all good things in life, needs to be shared. Sharing is not theft. Sharing is:

sharing adj 1: sharing equally with another or others 2: unselfishly willing to share with others; “a warm and sharing friend” n 1: having in common; “the sharing of electrons creates molecules” 2: using or enjoying something jointly with others 3: sharing thoughts and feelings [syn: communion] 4: a distribution in shares [syn: share-out]