Digital Music is not a loaf of bread which can be stolen

In a long series of things which I've been meaning to blog for a while. I saw this on Torrent Freak.

Singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy is part of the growing group of artists that understands that there’s more to music than selling pieces of plastic, and suing your fans.

In an interview with Wired Magazine (from a while ago), Tweedy said:

A piece of art is not a loaf of bread. When someone steals a loaf of bread from the store, that’s it. The loaf of bread is gone. When someone downloads a piece of music, it’s just data until the listener puts that music back together with their own ears, their mind, their subjective experience. How they perceive your work changes your work.

Jeff Tweedy is the leadsinger of the popular band Wilco, that won two Grammy’s back in 2005. He doesn’t consider copying and remixing as evil, but as a way to facilitate creativity.

On the official website of the band from Chicago we even see a link to the BitTorrent tracker where Wilco fans actively share high quality recordings.

Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator. People who look at music as commerce don’t understand that. They are talking about pieces of plastic they want to sell, packages of intellectual property. I’m not interested in selling pieces of plastic.

For those who are interested in the copyright debate, here’s a presentation by Larry Lessig titled “Who owns Culture“. The presentation served as an intro to conversation about p2p and free culture by Jeff Tweedy and Larry Lessig (audio link).

This all comes at a time when EMI music CEO and Chairman Alain Levy tells an audience at the London Business School that the CD as we know it is dead. And to top that, the IPPR released a study on why copying of CDs and DVDs for personal use should be legalised.

IPPR Deputy Director Ian Kearns said:

Millions of Britons copy CDs onto their home computers breaking copyright laws everyday. British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress.

A recent survey among 2135 British adult consumers shows that most people don’t even know that they are breaking the law. Of all the people that participated in the survey, 55% said that they have ever copied CDs onto other equipment. However, only 19% actually knows that this behavior is illegal.

Well what more can you say? Three interesting stories in the downfall or change of the music industry.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.