SOPA, PIPA, DCMA, Piracy, and my personal use of music.

With all the discussions of SOPA and PIPA, I thought I would chime in with my personal use of music. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I remember as a kid, grabbing a little tape recorder; do you remember those little box recorders?; and sitting next to a radio, pressing record when I heard a song I liked. In today’s terms I would be considered a felon and could be put in jail. I took that tape recorder with me everywhere, listening to music, and having fun.

Fast forward 30 years. I’m a hobby musician. I play locally with bands, performing cover tunes (other people’s music), and yes, I generally get paid to do so. Is my performance now a felony because I’m promoting someone else’s content?

I love Apple products. I’m an Apple fan. I love their online content, movies, music, etc. I have a Macbook, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and an iPod. Yes, I’m rather Apple centric. But each device has its use and I use them all. I use my iPod when I’m exercising, my iPhone for music when I’m in the car. I watch movies and listen to music on my Apple TV and most certainly on my computer.

But I stopped buying music from Apple awhile back, and now only purchase DMCA free music from Amazon. You see, Apple content is DMCA protected, and will only play through iTunes or some legitimate device. I’m very limited with what I can do with anything I purchase from iTunes. And here’s MY reason for not purchasing from Apple anymore.

As a musician, I’m constantly learning new songs, and then go out and perform them. It’s a hobby. It’s fun, and I enjoy it. And hopefully, people enjoy our performances. When I learn a new song, I get a copy of it, listen to it, and try to copy what the original artist is playing. Sometimes, because they are in a different key, I have to retune the song in order to match it up on my instrument. Sometimes, with particularly difficult songs, I have to slow it down so I can hear the different notes being played, and attempt to duplicate that.

With Apple music, and the DMCA protection, I cannot do this at all. A great piece of software called Audacity, is something I love to use when learning songs. I can loop a particular section, I can slow it down, I can change the key or pitch to match my instrument, really any number of things that help me listen and learn better. When Apple adds their DMCA protection, I can’t even open a song I purchase in Audacity. Audacity cannot read DMCA protected music, and iTunes will not allow me to adjust pitch or change the speed on a song.

When I discovered that Amazon sells music without DMCA protection, I had no qualms about switching where I get my content. I will only purchase DMCA free content. If I can’t use what I have paid for, in whatever manner I choose, then to me, its not worth paying for. If Amazon decided to use DMCA, I would stop purchasing from them, and worst case scenario, go back to recording an analog signal from the radio.

I will not purchase music I can not use freely. Once purchased, that copy is mine, and if you try to limit how I can use it, I will simply go without, or find another way to listen to it.

Which brings me to another point I would like to make regarding copyright issues and piracy. I am disgusted with how all these companies claim piracy is costing them millions and millions of dollars. They incorrectly assume that every illegal or pirated copy is lost revenue; and nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth.

Let me provide an example…

There have been times in the past that I have used Photoshop without paying for it. I do not support piracy, however, I just want to make this point. I used Photoshop, because it was available to me. If it had not been available, I certainly would not have gone out and spent $1000 for a legal copy. What would I have done instead? Well, I would have used GIMP, which is free, or paintshop, or some other piece of software that was free to use. That is not lost revenue to the company, because I would never have bought it anyway. It’s too expensive and not worth it. I can use something free, even if it’s not quite as good, without spending my hard-earned money on it. If, in fact, I ever had a copy of Photoshop. It is NOT lost revenue because I would never have purchased it. I would simply go without. End of story.

Here’s a great article on SOPA. Please do everything you can to keep our internet free and uncensored. Stop SOPA!

And an excellent video on SOPA and piracy…you must watch this…

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