2010 series Life in the Byte Age chapter one

I have a couple of things in common with some of the big pop stars in the World. I have written an albums worth of music and a chunk of the lyrics to go along with it.

One of the biggest differences is – I have sold under 1000 CD’s (compared to millions and millions for some artists) and that is (in part) because I am decidedly, if not staggeringly, less talented than most.

The other thing I did is, having embraced modern technology, having made some, if not all, of the material free to hear online prior to purchasing – on CBC3

One thing I feel very strongly about is the ability to protect intellectual property – but in order to do that, one must live within a society that subscribes, at least on some level, to the theory that music (and the arts) are actually worth something.

U2’s front man, Bono is calling for better restrictions on the internet to protect artists and their work. In his regular column for the New York Times, which the pop singer began a year ago, Bono says downloading is becoming all-encompassing.

“The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files,” he wrote.

Bono predicts people are only a few years away from downloading movies in a few seconds.

And I think that Bono and I are seeing exactly the same philosophical and ethical phenomenon: That society as a whole sees music and art, movies and television as something to be picked off of a communal apple tree. With impunity. Without a twinge of guilt. Because it’s there.

Most of my creative friends (and an equal number of the non-creative ones) feel that it is OK to download (steal) music and movies and TV shows. Some insist that they will tend to buy more music if they have the opportunity to download some first. That is like saying, “I promise to buy more fruit as long as I can steal some of the vegetables…”.

I mean, if the same rules, that applied to the internet, applied on the streets of your town, we would be free to loot stores of their goods. What is the difference?

I can proudly say that I have yet to download a song, movie or a TV show. It is about worth. Having been through the exercise of actually taking out 10 months of my life to produce, what I thought, was some good music – I always felt that it was worth something.

Where Bono and I might diverge in opinion is this: We have opened the flood gates to a lifestyle – and a conscience free choice in behavior. I find it hard to believe that we can now close these doors after they have been opened.

This is Blog Number 602 since the Spring of 2005. Crikey!