The rhino isn’t eating a flannel

A very recent reignition of that old chestnut, the debate about “pirates” sharing music on the internet, has stimulated my brain as it always does.

I’m not going to bang on about it. I don’t think either side is right. I’m too tired to care at the moment. I’m also not going to point out that Lily Allen seems to be encouraging use to use the service called Spotify (it lets us “access music without having to rip someone off”), and yet Lily Allen also seems to be saying that Spotify gives musicians no money.

If I mentioned it too much, it would be comically living up to the stereotype of the blogosphere – the idea of every web publisher thinking that everybody else totally gives a toss about what they think. Why would you want to get my extremely non-unique perspective? Haven’t you got better things to do?

But it annoys me that the archaic “you wouldn’t walk into a shop and steal a pineapple” argument is still being wheeled out over and over again. The number of pineapples in the world is limited to how many have been grown and picked, each at some expense. When you steal a pineapple, there is one less pineapple in the shop. When you “steal” a music, the “shop” from which you have taken that music is no worse off than it would be if you achieved your status as someone who didn’t buy that music by simply walking past the pile of musics. In the magical digital age, the people who make music do more or less the same amount of work whether there are seven or seven million copies of the same audio file. That’s how this stuff works, remember?

Obviously people know that. I’m not all that keen on being patronising. But they don’t think about it, evidently. I’m just pointing it in case it will help them to remember to think about it.

This is, as you may have noticed, absolutely not big aggregation, or a meaty summing-up. It’s too much of a hairy minefield and I am not the man for the job. Sorry about that. It’s not the whole jigsaw puzzle, just a little jigsaw piece that has slipped underneath the sofa. But do things make a bit more sense now you can see the hippopotamus’s face? It’s no longer a rhino that’s walked into a tapestry.