Belfast Telegraph

There's no point making song and dance about music piracy any more

By Robert McNeill

I've been discussing with other concerned and bewildered citizens the future of books, CDs and so forth. The question: where will it all end? The answer: never.

Change: it never stops. It'd make a nice change if it took a rest and just let us be for a bit. But, no, on it marches, squashing those who won't adapt, mocking those stuck in the past. The past - a place that will always be better than it ever was.

Take music. Well, that's the problem. Folk have been taking it - for free.

According to the British Phonographic Industry - Jeezis, guys, get with the programme; you might at least update your name from the stone age - digital piracy caused a decline in albums sold in 2011.

By "albums" they mean artefacts, to wit CDs, as opposed to downloads from the invisible world. Piracy involves purloining the artefact's content and making it available free online.

Today, many citizens expect everything for free. They want the world on a USB stick. Sammy Johnson said nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for nothing, so the logical conclusion is that music and writing will disappear, if no one is willing to pay for it.

However, while studying philosophy at technical college, I learned that taking anything to its logical conclusion never fits reality. The world's too irrational for that.

Despite Johnson's view, folk will still write and play music, even if it costs them money to be heard and read.

And even if the means of communication become invisible, writing and music will never disappear.

Recently, I was told my Apple stuff would henceforth be contained in a "cloud". This would be free, except for 20 quid needed to upgrade my software.

That's the problem with free stuff - it always comes at a price. We must stump up to keep up, even where we have doubts.

I don't download much now, having gone back to CDs, because I preferred bunging them in my car stereo to plugging in my smartphone. The latter required maximum volume and, besides, I kept leaving it tied to the dashboard for thieves to nick.

But the paraphernalia you get with CDs is rubbish. Vinyl albums were better because of the large covers.

You don't sit down and appreciate the artwork of a CD like you did a vinyl album cover, which folded out and, er, everything.

You don't read the information accompanying CDs because it's printed at a size only pixies can read.

Hence you buy a CD and never learn the song titles because you don't look at them.

That said, I wouldn't return to the past. Vinyl always had scratches and jumps and, often enough, you'd to take it back to a surly and eccentric small shop owner, a species far more frightening than chain-store staff with their corporate bonhomie and forced efficiency.

But now CDs are being squeezed out by downloads, piratical or otherwise.

It'd be nice if we could all just sit down and assess exactly where we're going.

But, as soon as you park your butt, the trendy mob rushes by, waving the next invisible thing, and you have to get up again and chase after them.

It's been like that since someone went by with the first wheel, causing his sceptical old neighbour to opine: roll on, death.

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