David Lowery On the Immorality of Stealing Music

“Congratulations!, your generation is the first in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo, freak musicians!” – David Lowery

David Lowery is in the band Cracker and also teaches business at the University of Georgia.  I just recently read a letter about about him that was sent to me by ASCAP.  (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)

Afterwards, I found the following letter by him that is absolutely amazing:

Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered

I’m sure some of you have already seen this.  If you haven’t, it is worth checking out whether or not you are in the music business.  He not only gets at what is wrong in the music business right now, but also sheds light on some of the immorality that is in our general culture when it comes to doing right by artists.  I would also say that these issues that affect artists are also part of our bigger problem of capitalism run amuck.

A sample from the letter:

The fundamental shift in principals and morality is about who gets to control and exploit the work of an artist. The accepted norm for hudreds of years of western civilization is the artist exclusively has the right to exploit and control his/her work for a period of time. (Since the works that are are almost invariably the subject of these discussions are popular culture of one type or another, the duration of the copyright term is pretty much irrelevant for an ethical discussion.) By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.

This is an astounding piece of work.  He lays it all out in a way that is not only thorough, but also put in terms simple enough that pretty much anyone can understand.  A highly recommended read.


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