A debate I found interesting and intriguing this week was on an internet forum and was on the subject of bootlegs of live concerts. Here's roughly how it went.
Someone had posted on there out of the blue that he was moving house and had literally a "bin load" of this particular band's bootlegs, and that if anybody wanted anything to let him know before they were gone for good. The following day another member posted that he had travelled 70 miles and took the lot off his hands. He now had all of these amazing concerts in front of him and he would very kindly upload and share his new-found fortune with us as soon as he could.
True to his world a couple of weeks later he had typed up a list and asked everyone to request whatever we wanted from it, and soon enough the bootleg shows came thick and fast.
Most of these recordings I had never heard before, some I had in my possession in the past and had either lost or broken so on the whole I was benefiting from the random acts of kindness of these two strangers.
Then strangely another member struck up to state that he did not agree with this culture of sharing live shows. Not because he was being ethical and there was the slight grey area of copyright infringement of recording a band live without permission, but because he already had everything that was on offer, which he had spent a number of years and a fair bit of money on building up his collection. Therefore why should anyone else be able to get hold of them for free and for little or no effort?
Well… I will tell you why!
There are several pieces of copyright law that cover bootlegging. The bit that holds the most weight is the fact that someone has recorded a performance of a piece of music which has been published and protected without licence to do so. Usually with a photograph or a recording it is the person who has taken the photograph or made the recording who assumes copyright and not the person who is in it. Unless of course you have already infringed copyright in doing so i.e. you have photocopied a photograph from a magazine or you have recorded a band playing a song from one of their albums. So in the case of a bootleg CD then the copyright holder is still the band. Not the person who recorded the show.
Now, most bands don't mind people recording their shows. Some actually actively encourage it. As long as nobody makes any money from it.
In the olden days before the internet existed to the masses, I would have quite happily and excitedly waited for a bank holiday weekend when a record fair came to town and spent hours searching through thousands of CDs until I eventually came across a bootleg live show of my favourite band, and then pay way over the odds - much more than the average price of a CD album - for what often turned out to be a really poor quality audience recording.
Now, after the internet has changed our lives, it is easy to find these recordings and download them for free - often from torrent sites and file sharing networks.
I feel it's important to point out at that my feelings towards sharing artists' music in general have shifted over the years. Where once I thought it was fine to download a band's album for free - as usually if I liked the music I would then either purchase the album legitimately or go out and see them live - it's not really. In recent years the price of music has come down significantly and I don't really think there is an excuse anymore not to spend a few pennies on downloading a tune or listening on a streaming service like Spotify which is licensed.
A couple of years ago I did upload a Meiosis E.P. to a torrent website myself (probably just desperate for a bit of attention). I looked back recently and it appears to have been downloaded, re-uploaded and shared by thousands of people all over the world. I no longer have any control over it. If I knew where these people were who were furiously downloading my silly little songs I'd maybe focus some of my energy towards that area. The first thing I could ask is "did you just download this because the word, 'FREE' was in the title?" And then they'd reply with whatever the Japanese/Italian/American is for "yes, it was complete shite and I have re-uploaded it for everyone else to laugh at". And that would be the end of it. But because I don't know and have no real way to find out I will forever wonder.
So we've established the fact that nobody owns these bootleg recordings of live shows apart from the performer - who in most cases at the very least is prepared to just let it go as it causes no real harm, and we've realised that nobody but the performer has any right to sell or dictate any rules on etiquette of how they should be freely shared.
If you go back to the old model of going out and spending far too much money on a physical CD then you are essentially funding a black market. Which may, I'm not saying it will, but might, not definitely, but could be, not certainly, but possibly… be funding dubious acts such as illegal arms trade, drug smuggling or terrorism. Or, far worse, the illegal recording of a Take That show which could then be sold for a far higher price at a greater volume and raise far more cash for guns, drugs and evil.
So… be nice, and share and share alike.
On another note I've been doing a spot of rehearsing for my gig at The Head of Steam, Newcastle. I'm going to play a couple of songs from the as-yet unreleased new album. I think I have made my opinion clear that if anyone was to record this performance and offer it for sale on the internet…
… you would have wasted your time - as I can't even give my music away for free never mind sell it for 79p a shot!
I'm not doing too badly with this new blog of mine and the website appears to be doing quite well too. I'm pleased that as more content is added the number of visitors is increasing in line. I'm even more pleased that from today anyone who Googles "cash for guns" will now be shown this page. Maybe I should pull a similar stunt sometime and incorporate the phrase "Lesbian Britney Spears" or "Super injunction celebrity secrets".
No. It's wrong and I would never stoop to such a lowly trick to generate hits to my website. I'm happy with you, my small but strong Meiosis faithful (suckers).
I'll leave you with a track from an "official" bootleg video of Pulp's first show in 9 years which took place this week:
Also check out Meiosis' recordings too: http://www.muiscbymeiosis.com
(the recording and distribution of these sound recordings is strictly ESSENTIAL! [if they are ever to be heard by anyone but myself and a few close friends.])