Music Piracy: From the Pirates Perspective
I don't wear a black patch over my eye. I don't have any missing limbs, replaced by a hook or a wooden leg that clicks when I walk. I have never owned a parrot; I don't have a cool name like Black Beard or Calico Jack; I don't even have a big, black hat. Though I lack all the defining characteristics, I am a pirate. My ship is a laptop computer and my booty is not measured by dollars and cents, but by precious kilobytes. With the aide of my spy glass, the KaZaa Media Desktop, I discern my next target. Wielding my trusty mouse, I make a few clicks, issue commands, board ship, and hijack the music recording industry, claiming yet another copyrighted song as my own.
My zealous desire for music began in the early nineties. I got a little CD player when I was ten, but I didn't realize its true potential until a year later, in '92, when I purchased Nirvana’s Nevermind. Even though I was too young to understand lyrics like, “travel through a tube and end up in your infection,” I was forever changed by the power chords and distortion. Enlightened, I embarked on a journey to claim more of this newfound music for myself. Scratching together loose change, along with my meager allowance, I sought out CDs by Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Stone Temple Pilots, giving up everything I saved for these musical gems.
As I grew older, my CD collection expanded along with my musical taste. My CD cases grew in capacity, from 12, to 36, to 75, finally reaching 200. By the time I graduated high school, I had amassed well over 300 CDs, ranging from classic rock to bluegrass to rap. At an average price of $15 apiece, that is over $4,500; more money than I spent on my last car. This collection devoured a major portion of the bi-weekly checks I earned doing maintenance work at the mini-golf course (which was a lot more demanding than you think). I sacrificed blood, sweat, and hours upon hours of my life, all for my love of music. After graduating high school, I packed my bags, and my CD cases, and headed off to college. Then disaster struck.
When I arrived at my new home, I immediately scoured the streets, searching for a music store. I found the only location in the area and excitedly perused the selection. When I picked up a copy of the new Red Hot Chili Peppers CD, I was shocked. CD prices had spiked up to $18 and $19. Such a price was unthinkable considering the new list of expenses that came with being on my own. Devastated, I was forced to go home empty handed, defeated by the industry I had supported since I was a kid. For the next two years I brooded over my dilemma, unable to satisfy my musical craving. As new albums continued to come out, I was forced to rely on the radio, and that was no way to live. Then one day my friend introduced me to KaZaa, and everything changed.
Napster had already been shut down, so at first I was timid. I knew sharing music was illegal, but millions of other people were doing the...