By Brock R
675,000 was the number that a man by the name of Joel Tenenbaum had to pay out to a number of record companies for illegally downloading 30 songs. Tenenbaum realized how much drastically worse this case could have been as the record labels could have charged him well into the millions for stealing their work, which in my opinion is absolutely outlandish. It is nearly inconceivable how much money record companies make off of their artists not to mention the artists themselves who make millions on their televisions appearances and tours. The way that music is evolving now is that it is being produced in a manner that everyone can hear the music, making downloading music as simple as operating a Microsoft Word program. Artists don’t literally make money from their albums and songs anymore but the degree of access to their music is not slowing their success in the slightest. They hardly make money on their albums and physical song tracks anymore as most of the revenue comes from the sell out shows or the special musical performances like at the VMA’s or special television spots. Another vessel that is great is Youtube, anyone and everyone can access pretty much any music they want, which is another vessel for these artists to share their creativity.
This example of copyright infringement is one in which companies are simply just being greedy and just plain immoral in my opinion. The case of Tenenbaum, according to ABC news, was only the second national case of an individual going to trial for downloading illegal music. The way that Kant speaks about enlightenment and freedom to express I feel really ties into this issue of music distribution quite well. He makes the statement that “a public can achieve enlightenment only slowly. A revolution may bring about the end of a personal despotism or of avaricious tyrannical oppression, but never a true reform of modes of thought. New prejudices will serve, in place of the old, as guide lines for the unthinking multitude” (Kant). The public has latched onto an idea of music for the masses, downloading everything for free when they see fit even though the tyrannical oppression, i.e. the music industries, still can pose a threat. However, it means little as Kant says as this mode of thought has moved from the public to the artists themselves, leaking albums and songs for free in order to get more fame and recognition. In playing the devils advocate Milton argues about how the soul is poured into literature and to steal a piece of this is to steal someones legacy, specifically he remarks “When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditats, is industrious, and likely consults and conferrs with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be inform’d in what he writes” (Milton). Milton makes a good point here, I feel to steal knowledge and represent it as one’s own is a grievous misuse of judgement. However songs merit no knowledge, it is entertainment, and as such I feel it needs to be treated differently. There is creativity and knowledge and labor that goes into these songs of course, but they are paid to do this, and often times artists have a staff of writers to write their songs, so who are you really stealing from? Where is the line drawn? I feel like to define these lines is to put people in harms way unnecessarily. Lesig, in his book “The Future of Ideas”, he argues that people who wish to make movies and produces films of their own wish to have a rich and realistic perspective for the audience to enjoy. However, in order to do that they must clear permission with everyone who owns a specific product that might appear in that movie such as a coke or a type of vehicle. This is similar to Tenebaums in the sense that a company with their product in a movie should be thrilled for the free advertising that they receive rather than trying to go after that film studio or person for copyright infringement. Lesig, Kant, and Milton all sort of veer in the same direction as to how copyrighting should be exercised. That is, to express ones ideas, as one wishes, and in doing so come up with new ways to express ones ideas to the world. The owners of the ideas must always be protected as Milton more strongly advocates, but all in all the public as well as authority figures must be open to the ever changing mode of thought, and not resist it.