Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cover Me

You've heard about it, the Metallica v. Napster debate or popular musicians such as Van Halen or Led Zeppelin suing nightclubs for paying cover-bands to perform without paying royalties to the artists, or Eminem suing Apple over unauthorized downloads on iPods. I've been thinking about this for a while. I can understand an artist suing over the download thing because it's stealing. However, Metallica would've killed for that kind of recognition when they were first starting out, and I think I can safely say the same for any music-artist bringing a lawsuit against those who are infringing on copyright laws. It's almost a signal for the artist on their way out. "okay, guys, I'm leaving. Don't steal my stuff," and a lawsuit follows shortly thereafter.

Why don't current music-stars sue over copyright infringement? Because they love the recognition. Because, even though teens sit at home and download a song from the internet, they will still go out and buy the album. The possession-of-goods stigma lives on. You're okay if you've got the album downloaded and burnt, but you rock if you bought it. Considering the amount of money lost in the downloading/stealing shenanigans, it actually serves to profit the band.

Never before in musical history has there been that kind of publicity. Never has a band gone from zero to Guitar Hero in less time than it takes for your computer to tell you your download is complete. The artists who are popular in the moment will embrace the internet for launching them into super-stardom and will create their own webzines, fansites, become Myspace whores, etc.

Yeah, it's wrong for their intellectual property to be stolen, but with the monetary gain and fame gain it gives them by letting others do it while they're still in the spotlight, it's no wonder they hold out for wrinkly old-age to bring 14 year old Joe's parents to court to sue him for downloading their first hit from three decades ago.

All I'm sayin' is, I see what's going on here, and in the live music venue, if there's a cover-band, then royalties need to go where royalties should legally go. No one has a right to profit off of someone else's song without paying that someone else first. I agree. I think there needs to be some serious reform with regard to how musicians are treating the copyright laws in light of the internet making new stars' careers and breaking the banks of the ones who don't perform anymore, rather rely on the royalties for their paycheck.

I'm just sayin'...Van Halen begging for change on the sidewalks of San Francisco is not a good image for me. I'm just sayin'.

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