pirates with privileges?
If your friend gives you a mix tape, is it “piracy just between friends?” When a stranger gives you a mix tape, have you entered a completely different ethical universe?
The video jukebox on my TV showed a famous quote on piracy from the Barenaked Ladies, saying “”When the Gap went online, T-shirts didn’t become free.” This is undoubtedly true, and I need to remember to keep my anti-authoritarian instincts in check when I see rockers, who I expect to be rebels, saying things about obeying the rules. (And no, I would not really call the Barenaked Ladies rockers…)
But what makes interactions among strangers categorically different than interactions among friends? If I host a party and make a “Jed’s Party ’04” mix tape as a party gift, is that categorically different than creating a free download site with all my iTunes playlists?
Is friendship a private space, with some penumbra of implied safety from surveillance or prosecution, like the untaxed tip passed from patron to doorman in a quick handshake? Do the weaker ties of affinity not carry the same implied mores of privacy?
All this only came up because I was watching the Music Choice channels on cable. And I only get this commercial-free music because I pay for my cable service. Am I paying for a privilege non-subscribers can’t get without breaking the law, or is subscription so different from ownership that the analagy collapses? It certainly feels like ownership after you’ve heard “My Happy Ending” and “She Will Be Loved” twice each in less than 3 hours.
Speaking of which, the Maroon 5 site has a pop-up asking you to vote for their hit tune on MTV’s TRL. Talk about “network-driven” advocacy.
… but of course the Maroon 5 promo 404s when you try to follow it. Par for the careening course of digital progress.