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  • Oct 5th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    Too Little, Too Late

    As someone just about to slide into my second half-century, but young (immature?) at heart, I have to say that in my opinion the MPAA is coming to the party about forty years too late. Digital music sharing got started in earnest, if I recall correctly, somewhere around the initial Napster days circa 1998, but I was doing the equivalent of downloading music, in great quantity for the time and equipment, starting with recording songs off the radio onto a little battery-operated reel-to-reel tape recorder at age eight or nine, in 1971 or 72 -- almost EXACTLY forty years ago.

    In addition to taping songs played on the radio, I taped the record collections of everybody I knew or met -- friends, relatives, my local public library, my high school radio station, and more. I would sometimes call up radio stations and ask DJs to send me a particularly special or hard-to-find song on tape (they always did). In high school, when friends and I got jobs at the radio stations, I'd often sit there at night dubbing the stations' own music libraries with their own equipment. You name it. And NOBODY CARED. (Oh, and in those days you could freely sing/play records at parties and in bars, too, without having to pay anybody royalty fees.)

    Granted, as one person I didn't have much impact -- I was the only person I knew who did this, originally because I didn't have the money to buy records and later because I'd developed the habit and worked up the techniques to a fine art. I rarely GAVE copies to anyone else. But to this day I still have the 200+ cassettes, 20+ reel-to-reel tapes, and a few hundred actual records (given to me; what, BUY them?!?) I amassed between 1972 and 1998 when I switched to MP3 downloads. (And, okay, I did buy a record OCCASIONALLY; but oh, how I remember my fury when I arrived at the store one day to buy a new 45, only to discover the price had gone up from 75 cents to 84 cents and that the money in my pocket (about 78 cents) was no longer enough!)

    So yeah, this sort of stuff has been going on in at least SOME circles for at least four decades (somebody already had, and gave me, that original tape recorder...). I remember, upon hearing my first MP3 and being amazed at the sound quality, INSTANTLY thinking to myself, "Well, the genie is out of the bottle NOW." And once he's out, good luck getting him back in; one really is better off just directing one's efforts toward living with the consequences.