This is a useful discussion - it should be noted, perhaps to the chagrin of many, how much more sensible the teenager's argument is here... in any case, it illustrates the two positions quite beautifully.
Later, an acquaintance re-posted to my facebook wall the comment he made on the Techdirt blog; it's quite brilliant, so I'm including it here, after the excerpt.
Teenager And Composer Argue Over File Sharing
from the fight-it-out dept
Early last week, reader dcm sent over an interesting blog post by Jason Robert Brown, a somewhat well known theatrical composer where he posted a debate he had with a teenager concerning file sharing. Since then, it appears the story also appeared on Reddit and some other sites, and now everyone is submitting it to me (that'll teach me not to leave interesting stories to write up over the long weekend...). Anyway, the basics of the story aren't too surprising: Brown is upset that the girl isn't paying him, the girl tries to explain that she wouldn't buy his work otherwise (she doesn't have the means), but is trying to promote his work because she likes it and thinks more should know about it. And, from those two very different viewpoints, nothing approaching agreement is ever reached.
It's definitely an interesting discussion, in that both sides mostly remain friendly throughout the debate. Brown starts off with a simple request to various users of some file sharing system to please stop sharing his works because it's "totally not cool" with him. Thankfully, he doesn't threaten anyone or break out any legalistic cease-and-desist type language. There is some back and forth at the beginning where the girl doesn't believe that "THE" Jason Robert Brown is really emailing her, but then the conversation gets a bit more interesting. She starts out by asking him a simple question about why he's spending so much time asking everyone to take down his scores:I'd like to ask you a question. Why are you doing this? I just searched you on this site and all of the stuff that people have of yours up there say that it's "Not for Trade Per Composer's Request." Did you think about the aspiring actors and actresses who really need some good sheet music? If you're really who you claim to be, then I assume you know that Parade, Last Five Years, 13 The Musical, etc. are all genius pieces of work and that a lot of people who would love to have that sheet music can't afford it. Thus the term "starving artist." Performers really need quick and easy ways to attain good sheet music and you're stopping a lot of people from getting what they need. It matters a great deal to them that they can get it for free. Why does it matter so much to you that they don't?Brown takes a while to actually get around to responding to the questions (there are some emails in between), but he finally says:I should think the answer is obvious: I think it's annoying and obnoxious that people think they're entitled to get the sheet music to my songs for free, and I'd like to make those people (you, for example) conscious of the immorality, illegality, and unfairness of their behavior.
The teenager, Eleanor (sometimes referred to as Brenna, but that's not worth discussing), points out that many artists have no real means of obtaining his works, but by being able to download the scores for free and use them, they're making many more people aware of his works. She presents a hypothetical that describes the value of word of mouth marketing for those who might not be aware of his works, even highlighting how many of those people will likely end up making transactions that help his bottom line. He, not surprisingly, is not buying it
Commentary, via Chris Hughes: