Miscellaneous Rumbles

Origins of Music Piracy Article PSA


In the latest copy of the New Yorker. Started basically with the fact that CD's could be smuggled out of pressing plants and furthered by the hi-tech morons who think that all intellectual property should be free. A good read.


Makes my blood pressure shoot through the ceiling.


Great article demonstrating how amazing politics, private resources, and law enforcement powers were unable to do the right thing in a timely fashion...


Not sure why no one saw it coming. Once someone could copy and burn CD tracks on a home computer, it was only a matter of time. Broadband hastened the distribution. Unfortunately the music companies adopted a doomed strategy, as the article makes clear.


The record companies felt the same way about tape and cassettes back in the day. Video tape once had copy guard as well. No matter what the technology is, sooner or later someone will find a way around any protection, safeguards or rules. They don't care who suffers. It's all about their profits and the thrill of getting over the corporation. The artist is obviously hurt, but, as most of the profit goes to a faceless, soulless corporation, the hackers just don't care.


Pirated software is the root of all evil.

GNU is righteous work. And bless the freeware coders.


This is a fascinating read and touches on a very personal era for me. I was a freshman in college in 1996 and for me, was a year of transition fueled by technology. I received my first “real” email account through the university and it really made long distance relationships with friends and family possible. I also spent a lot of time shooting the crap with new college friends in the dorm rooms. Everything from girls, music, video games, drinking, girls, sports, …girls and yes, technology was routinely discussed. I latched on to a few computer savvy guys down the hall and started picking their brains. I was the curious type and before long, I was up and running on Windows 97 with an 8 gig hard drive.

We all had an intense love for music, so we were early adopters of wav and mp3 compression. This was a natural extension of tinkering with new technologies. I purchased a cd burner in 1997 and started ripping my own cd collection. Being a guitar player as well, I also started playing around with multi track recording and creating my own demos out of my dorm room. I purchased a Playstation and the video game industry was quietly turning into a juggernaught for my age group. Countless dorm room nights were dedicated to playing video games, blasting rap music, throwing a few cold ones back, and “solving” world problems.

The cd burner was huge because it was the first opportunity to take cd quality music and create mixes. Flashback to the early nineties, the mixtape was generation defining: Every girl I knew had a customized “Summer of 94” jam mixtape or every guy had “Tunes to workout” too… There was a brief time in the mid nineties when cassette decks were quickly phased out in favor of the cd, but that freedom of the mixtape was a gaping hole and missing from the market. There was no way to customize a cd. The cd burner filled that freedom and by 1998/99 everyone sharing music like they did back in 95, but on cd’s.

Sharing data was made easier with a burner as well. Early zip drives had problems, so data disks where a huge improvement in sharing all sorts of data. It was really a fascinating time because my peers and I really felt being “computer savvy” and having these skills could really help us with opportunities for careers down the line.

So literally between 1997 and 1998 the genie was unleashed. The technology was quickly adopted to not just my computer savvy friends, but to all my college peers …all over the world. In the hands of tech savvy kids with lots of time on their hands and access to large university run servers, free music was absolutely everywhere and with a simple click of a button, readily available. At the time, this was simply an extension of playing around with new technology. I started spending less money on music and more on movies, video games and other computer gadgets and technology. I took a side job at the university building and designing web pages. I was being paid to learn html, flash, photoshop, and video editing.

Napster went main stream, in what.. 1999? It was truly devastating to the current music industry business model. Few of my peers really cared. I remember having arguments with my friends. Many were fed up with high prices of the cd and we had more options to spend our disposable income. They had it justified in their mind that this was “ok” because they felt wronged by the current model.

My personal opinion at the time was, yes indeed this is not ethically right. But I loved the ability to my creative stamp on a mix cd. I loved the fact that I was able to find rare live performances of artists like Jimi Hendrix at a click of a button. In prior years, I would have to scour record shops for hours to stumble upon what was available at the corner of my desk. I knew it wasn’t right, but that didn’t stop me.

But, the mp3/music industry was simply one of the technologies we dabbled in. Just a few years earlier, in 1993/94 my sister and I would hover over the record button just waiting to tape something off the radio. I was placing my boom box in front of my amplifier and overdubbing and creating audio mixes. It sounded terrible, but it was fun to do. Flash forward a few years, I was creating multi mixes by plugging my bass and guitars directly into my computer and getting cd quality sound. I was able to burn and distribute my own creations. We were able to run Winamp off our computer pump it through our 15 inch speakers and build mixes that would last… literally days if we wanted to.

By 2000 the music industry was thrown into chaos and hard lines drawn by Metallica and Dr. Dre were PR disasters. I remember seeing an analysis being quoted with, “the general public likes burning cds,” despite the music industries distain for the technology. Apple soon swooped in with the ipod.

This era of this article was hugely impactful to me and the technologies helped shape who I am now. With email and instant messaging, I was able to maintain a long distance relationship with my girlfriend, now loving wife. My career, now in marketing, I attribute many skills that I didn’t actually learn in the classroom, but rather from side jobs or hobbies. I received my first Voice over IP phone call in 1999. It was terrible, all echoy but it was just another field of technology we played around with.

Back to the article: Much of it focuses on a highly devised plan to steal and load music onto a network before release dates. It seemed to be a source of pride to be the one to leak material first. At the time, pop music wasn’t really thing, so hearing new stuff months or weeks before it was publicly available didn’t interest me.

The really damaging thing was the fact that myself or anyone else could simply purchase a cd go home and rip it then make it available for the whole world for free. Once that genie is out of the bottle, you can’t stuff it back in.


Good comments Neil. Well explained.

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