Copyright is a funny thing, huh? Funny peculiar not funny ha-ha. This fellow, the wonderfully-named Clayton Counts, is in a spot of bother with EMI for creating and putting online a ‘mash-up’ of songs from Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Of course, you may have already read what Boing Boing said about the matter, and I agree; EMI are only making themselves into a cartoon evil corporation by their actions.
But it’s interesting that copyright law is so rigid and allows for no grey areas. Clayton’s mix (which is wonderfully odd, by the way; and I assume if EMI get the IP addresses of those who downloaded it, they’ll be coming after me for that, if not for this mix I made of all the songs from Pet Sounds playing at once) will, of course, not affect sales of either album. I’d imagine that 99% of the people that will buy either of those albums this year will have never even heard of Clayton’s mixes.
All this has reminded me that I’m potentially playing a dangerous game with the mix tape mp3s I’ve been putting online. For me, they exist in that grey area, as I see them as 1) a way to introduce you some cracking music that you might not have heard and may care to investigate further, 2) remind you that, “oooh, that Stereolab song was great, must pick up a copy of that album,” or 3) give you a chance to hear Here I Go Again by Whitesnake again. I have no moral dilemma about number three on that list, as I sometimes download that type of song illegally because I’m not taking away a sale: if I couldn’t download it I’d forget about it, not go straight to the shops looking for Whitesnake albums.
Of course, this grey area doesn’t exist. It’s all theft in the music industry’s eyes. But, hypocritically, I also like to protect my work, and have in the past sued people who’ve stolen Minipops and used them in adverts without my permission or payment. I see a difference there – they’ve directly affected my income, therefore I feel justified in seeking money from them. EMI no doubt feel the same way about their products.
I have no conclusion. I don’t know the answer. The grey area will continue to exist in my head, and I’ll continue to justify my hypocrisy. But, whatever, Clayton Counts needs our support to embarrass EMI into backing down, otherwise he’s financially fucked. He makes good music, too, you should give it a listen.