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brave new world

Posted by robin jones on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wes Lassiter's post on intellectual property rights has me thinking about just how much the world has changed in the last decade or so. It is utterly amazing how much technological progress the human race has made. Unfortunately we seem to be going backwards morally and spiritually. Aldous Huxley wrote "technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards." He was almost certainly onto something


I didn't give much of a thought to my starting to encode the tunes I'm learning in TablEdit this morning. I can't remember the damn things if I don't play them every day and actually wind up relearning them over and over. I wish I'd have learned to "just say no" while I still had enough brain cells to land somewhere above vegetable on an IQ test. Now I must tab tunes out so should I need to re-learn them in a big hurry, I can. I barely gave it a second thought that if I were to post them to a site in .tef form for all intent and practical purpose they'd be in the public domain, forever, whether someone owns the copyright on them or not. Such is the world we live in.


When I was kid taking banjo lessons from the likes of Richard Bailey and Randal Morton it was pretty common practice for them to let me borrow the albums that had the tunes they were teaching me on them. I'm not sure they ever told me to but I inferred from the situation that I was supposed to tape them. So I did. And I made other people copies of those tapes.

But even if I'd have made tapes for everybody I would ever meet, that can't compare to putting a digital copy of a tune on a file sharing app and signing on to share what was likely never paid for in the first place with literally millions of other people. I'm not very good at math but it seems to me it's the whole geometric versus exponential thing in action. And as obvious as it is to me, a 46 year old man, that sharing other people's property with complete strangers is wrong, I believe you'd be hardpressed to find a 20-something who thinks/feels the same way. The world has changed. A lot.

That said, I don't really believe it's wrong for me to burn a copy of a disc for a friend, or to shoot him a copy of an MP3 in whatever manner is conveinent. That's no different from me taping an album into cassette format all those years ago when we still did that. The problem, of couse, is sharing files, anonymously, with the anonymous.


Aldous Huxley is probably chuckling somewhere at this "other planet's hell" we find ourselves living in. I guess we'll have to muddle through, sort of like the cavemen did.

3 comments on “brave new world”

twayneking Says:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 @10:43:18 PM

Sounds like how the folk music process used to work.

PaulKirby Says:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 @11:47:13 PM

Wow. I hope that works out for you with the tabledit. Not being able (yet) to write tab is my bete noir as far as being a banjo player is concerned (that and speed, accuracy, chords, backup, etc).

Wes Lassiter Says:
Thursday, November 20, 2008 @3:14:52 AM

Not to say that I have been perfect or will be for I have taken my share of folks sharing with me someone elses music an epiphany occurred. The musician I was visiting that moment was writing ideas to help me right out of his head like you or I would write a letter to our Mother. It made me sad to realize that this kind of talent needs so much more reward and recognition. It is so common for someone to take for granted the countless hours of study, dedication and blind faith it must have taken to be that damn good. When I go to learn a passage or song that another has written wherever possible, I will download the song via Itunes or whereever I can. If that is not possible, I will try to contact the musician if alive to seek permission to use someone elses recording of their work. If I have exhausted those means then I will accept the copy free of charge. To me that is not extreme it is morally prudent. I guess I am bent on this for one of my best artistic ideas I ever had was stolen right out from under me and is being mass produced 7 miles from my house and the theif is taking full credit for the idea. I am considered the shmuck for calling attention to her boldness in calling it her idea. It is an old problem but the pain remains the same;always present.

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