QUESTION OF THE WEEK: IS IT OKAY TO ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD AN ALBUM YOU’VE ALREADY PURCHASED ON VINYL?
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Welcome to “Question of the Week,” a (sometimes) weekly debate amongst the MetalSucks staff regarding a recent hot button issue.
This week’s query comes from an e-mail sent to us by reader Jaziel Ocampo. We thought it was such an intriguing issue, so we passed it along to our writers:
“I still buy and collect vinyl records and prefer them over buying a cd but they rarely have an access code to obtain a digital copy of the album. Do I have the right to download the album without paying for it since I already paid minimally twice the price for the record on vinyl?”
The MS staff’s answers after the jump.
Whoa, what are we turning into, an ethics site now? I’m going to argue that yes, you are entitled to “illegally” download the album if you’ve bought the vinyl. My logic: a vinyl is always going to cost more than a CD copy, and a CD copy is obviously rippable. I don’t think you’ll find very many people who would claim that ripping a CD to your computer and using the files for personal listening is stealing. Vinyl doesn’t make that so easy, yet it costs more. The fact that labels/bands don’t often include digital download codes with vinyls is simply a matter of oversight/laziness; if there were some insta-download machine that made it automatic, I’m sure they’d always do it.
The bigger issue here is how physical recordings are affected by the presence of digital versions. This problem underscores why the current business model is so outdated. You want the digital version because it’s more convenient for you to listen to, right? In all honesty, how often are you going to spin that record once you’ve got the files on your computer/phone/iPod? I’d wager you’ll barely touch it. Physical product these days is essentially a souvenir to keep on a shelf… nothing more. It’s outdated.
With all due respect to bands and makers of vinyls everywhere, if you’re selling vinyls in 2011 and NOT offering a free digital download to go with it, you are a fucking idiot. Yes, yes, yes, it’s perfectly fine to download the music once you’ve paid for the vinyl. The fucking band/label/whomever should have given it you anyway. You’re actually paying for and supporting music in the 21st century, a dying tradition if ever there was one. You deserve a free goddamn digital download for your troubles.
Oh my yes. That is until content providers make it so that we can enjoy our purchases — beit record, movie, TV show, concert, disastrous Lakers playoff series, or whatever — at a time and place of our choosing. We hammer on this at MetalSucks: Consumer technology has made it so each of us is a license holder who pays to access content; or, alternately, our ultimate goal is not to own a million plastic disks or homes stuffed with TVs. We pay for premium cable, so we should be able to watch its programming on a mobile device while atop our toilets; when we buy a concert ticket, there must be an option to attend virtually from home via high-quality streams; we buy vinyl — the most fun, pleasing music format — so we should be able to take the jams with us on the road. The alternative? The recording industry can continue to criminalize our improvements on their outdated model — an approach that did little to stem taping and CD-Rs or bootlegging shows — and insist that form not follow function. And the whole business can continue to flop, fail, and free fall.
No, you do not have the right. The whole point of music is to buy the same piece of music in as many times as possible, paying full price for each copy until the industry decides they’ve had enough. So while it’s a good thing you’ve bought the vinyl, you should also get a CD copy, 320 kbps MP3s on Amazon, mp4s on iTunes, FLAC files on a thumb drive, kitschy casette copy, and have a Sony intern come over and hum the songs to you. And don’t get any of this on sale, either. Full price = full support. Because in the REAL world, man, it doesn’t matter if you have rent and bills to pay: if you want to listen to music, you gotta put down as much money as labels deem necessary. Anything less is STEALING — you’re not a THIEF, are you??? — and that’s why the music industry is as sturdy and strong as it’s ever been.
That’s tricky. I’d say it’s okay but I’m not advocating it. I never download stuff, mainly because my conscience is too big for its own good, but I can understand not wanting to pay twice for the same album. But there are so many cheaper options now that it’s like, why not just give the money and get it? I go hunting for vinyl so I usually find the ones with good deals and I’m happy to give the $5 to Amazon or $9 to iTunes and get a digital copy. I might mention that I’ve grown to hate CDs because I move a lot and they’re a goddamn hassle (and take up too much space), so I don’t usually buy them anymore unless I have no other options.
Okay, kiddies, now it’s your turn! Weigh in with your answer to the question of the week below.