Pakistani Musicians Claiming Piracy Is Worse Than The Taliban

from the guys-trying-to-kill-them dept

We've definitely seen musicians overreact to the threat of infringement in all sorts of bizarre ways, but this may be the most extreme. Some Pashtun musicians in Pakistan are now claiming that piracy is worse than the Taliban -- and that includes a musician who the Taliban tried to kill. This is, of course, crazy. The Taliban, somewhat famously, has banned music in places where they are in control. In fact, just a few months ago, the WSJ had a big article explaining how the Taliban was directly targeting and silencing Pashtun musicians. It explains the real reasons for the problems for Pashtun musicians:
For centuries, Pashto musicians such as Mr. Alam were based in Dabgari Bazaar in Peshawar's ancient, walled inner city. Music shops lined the top floors of old two-story buildings with wooden balconies. The ground floors housed merchants who sold household material such as woven beds and embroidered cushions for newlyweds.

"The place was full of music shops—it was like a packed train," said 72-year-old Ustad Ahmad Gul. A musical prodigy who recorded his first tracks for Radio Pakistan when he was 8 years old, Mr. Gul had a shop in Dabgari for 18 years.

But amid the new climate of intolerance, the neighborhood's residents took the initiative to start expelling the musicians from Dabgari in 2004, said Mohamaed Ershad, an elderly shopkeeper there who sells cotton.

The musicians "had changed—they were no longer the old respected artists," complained Mr. Ershad, who at the time had rented his top floor to a musician. "There was dancing here."

When the musicians resisted leaving Dabgari, shops were set on fire and musical instruments flung to the streets. Police also barged into Nishtar Hall, the city's premium space for performing arts, during a concert and kicked the microphones as a live audience watched.
And, of course, the Taliban has also been known to behead large groups of people if they catch them dancing to music at a party.

So, forgive me for thinking that, perhaps, the Taliban is a hell of a lot more responsible for the problems of Pashtun musicians than "digital piracy." And yet, that's not what people in the article linked above are claiming.
Yousafzai, 44, has invested his life in Pashtun music, which is known for both its stirring and calming melodies as well as its emotive folk songs. In 2008, he survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in his hometown of Malakand. But now he maintains that the militant group which considers music and entertainment un-Islamic is the least of his worries.
I have no doubt that it's difficult to be a Pashtun musician these days, but to blame it on piracy seems ridiculous given the circumstances. Even if there has been an increase in piracy, it seems that much of that is likely because of the Taliban going around, killing people for dancing and threatening to blow up music stores if they don't close down.

I recognize that "piracy" is an easy scapegoat, but it hardly seems like the appropriate one in Pakistan.

Of course, guess who is helping to spread the myth that Pakistaini piracy is the problem? Why, it's the US government, of course, in the form of the USTR! In its latest Special 301 report, it complains that Pakistan hasn't cracked down on piracy, and that its law enforcement should have more power to go after pirates even when the rightsholder isn't complaining.
Widespread counterfeiting and piracy, particularly book and optical disc piracy, continue to present serious concerns for U.S. industry. Pakistan should ensure that its enforcement officials can exercise ex officio authority without the need for a formal complaint by a rights holder, and should provide for deterrent-level penalties for criminal IPR infringement. Pakistan should also take the necessary steps to reform its copyright law to address the piracy challenges of the digital age.
Again, of course, if the US hadn't been so instrumental in helping the Taliban become more powerful in Pakistan over the last decade and a half, perhaps more music stores would have remained open and piracy wouldn't be such a big deal. But, no, of course the answer must be to push for stricter copyright laws. I'm sure that's a major priority for the Pakistani government right now...

Just the fact that this bizarre article claiming piracy is worse than the Taliban is coming out right at the same time as the Special 301 effort raises questions. It certainly sounds like the start of a concerted campaign to push for stricter copyright laws in a country that should be focusing on a lot of other things right now.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 4:39am

    So in their view it's better to behead people dancing to their music, explode their shops, threaten their own lives than have their music reach all kinds of audiences all over the world even when such people couldn't afford their music or it simply isn't available in any other means.

    The Taliban did a piss poor job it seems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 5:40am

    Just goes to show...

    How little life is actually valued in some parts of the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    Mass murdering terrorists in your country? Don't worry, stricter copyright will fix that.
    Large portions of your people starving to death? Stricter copyright.
    Neighboring country trying to invade? Stricter copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Gabriel J. Michael (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 5:59am

    Don't be silly

    The U.S. doesn't give a hoot about piracy that affects Pakistani musicians. They even say so in the 301 report - they're concerned about optical disc piracy which presents "serious concerns for U.S. industry."

    The Special 301 report isn't about promoting innovation, or even protecting intellectual property in general. It's about airing a laundry list of everything U.S. trade groups are unhappy about in the domestic policy of other countries. This is why 301 now complains about "the poor quality" of China's utility models and design patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 6:11am

    that being the case, how's about asking them if they (the musicians) would prefer to defend themselves against an attack from a bootleg cd or a Kalashnikov!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    What in the world did they DO to that guy to make him say that piracy was a bigger threat to him than the group that literally sent assassins after him?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Guardian, May 6th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    lol

    its beacause they are the taliban

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    How long before the RIAA or someone comes out and says something totally asinine like...

    "Filesharing is worse than child sex abuse!"

    ...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 6:49am

    What were they thinking publishing a report like that? If the Taliban sees it, they'll be on The Pirate Bay and Bittorrent before you know it. Will someone please think of the recording industry?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 7:23am

    Re:

    Probably made him listen to some Top40 radio station for a few hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    You wouldn't rape a child.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    This mean person on the Internet is worse then Hitler who killed people like me from my religion!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    This is why the middle east can't have nice things

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    Didn't one of them say that child porn was a good thing? I think there was something about it here on techdirt a few years ago...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 7:45am

    three ring circus == tpp

    Wonder no more why the TPP is so classified, and so secret,

    "Taliban and AlCiaDuh negotiations."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    RadialSkid (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    That was a guy from some Danish anti-piracy group, but yeah, somebody in the industry did actually say that.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100427/1437179198.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 8:08am

    Who's words

    In defense of the musicians, there is not a single quote in the article from a musician that mentions piracy. Every complaint quoted from the musicians is about poverty, not piracy. The only mentions of piracy are from "officials", and the writers of the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Seegras (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    let me guess, they did something with a Kalashnikov to make him say that. Or maybe an M16. To his family.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 8:40am

    Target Confirmed

    Given the level of force used against the Taliban, U.S. interests arguing that piracy is worse than the Taliban can only mean one thing; MPAA and RIAA have assembled a fleet of armed drones that are now warmed up and ready to deploy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    both are exhagerated to justify the actions they take then attempt AFTER, to make legal......they break the law of freedom then pass a "law" to retropestively make "legal" the actions they have no problems commiting, WITHOUT the specific law to say they have the legality.......now i ask you, IS THAT LEGAL?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re:

    This is why the middle east can't have nice things

    This is Pakistan (south Asia), not the Middle East.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2014 @ 10:36am

    You wouldn't download Detroit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    Of course not. There are way too many viruses there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, May 6th, 2014 @ 10:49am

    It's both amazing and scary to see how large portions of the middle east are going backward instead of forward. The people there had more freedom 50 years ago than they do today, and the worst part is that it's not just extremist groups like the Taliban who want this. Apparently, a good portion of the general public approves of stricter laws and less freedom, all in the name of religion.

    It would be disturbing enough if this were only confined to the middle east, but apparently it's also spreading to other countries which now have a large Muslim population.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 11:07am

    Re:

    "It's both amazing and scary to see how large portions of the middle east are going backward instead of forward."

    I'm even more amazed and scared that this is true in the US as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 6th, 2014 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Just goes to show...

    3 words: Roe versus Wade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    Remind me why we have anything to do with that filthy Nation.

    Oh, probably some one is making profit somewhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

    Quick look down to see a really pretty shark in the tank we are jumping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Well it is better they fight about music piracy than join the Taliban. Amazing how fast money and idea of owning something changes your life goals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    TechNoFear (profile), May 6th, 2014 @ 10:38pm

    If I was a Pakistani musician I would also say that piracy is worse than the Taliban.

    Simply because 'pirates' do not burn your home down, kill your family and friends (or worse) just because you said something the 'pirates' did not like...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 12:42am

    Re: Who's words

    Do you have access to the full article? Sadly, I'm not able to verify the text of the original source (as opposed to the snippets quoted above) due to an idiotic paywall.

    Also, what kind of "officials" are the ones making that claim? Are they government officials, representatives of music organisations who supposedly represent musicians or something else? If they're a local label representative (for example), then they could be said to be stating that opinion on behalf of the musician even if those interviewed didn't say it directly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:04am

    I seem to recall you telling us that copyright infringement and terrorism were being mentioned in the same sentence by our glorious leaders, Mike. Now that they've planted the idea, Inception-style, they're consolidating it, and this is the result.

    We can expect more of the same, it seems. Please keep calling them out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: Just goes to show...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:09am

    Re:

    Copyright will solve all your problems, boy. If you've got straight pants, it'll give you flares. It's great for stripping wallpaper and getting fleas off your dog. Why, I was bald as a coot, but I rubbed a bit of Copyright on my bare head and what do you know? Everyone is calling me "Chewbacca the Wookiee" now. /sarc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Zonker, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Apparently the Taliban's secret weapon against the Pashtun is Stephen King's "Carrie" with a stack of bootleg CDs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.