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How U2 Aided Piracy

September 19, 2014

(Photo Credit: U2)

I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, U2 is a legendary band. And who doesn’t like free?

It turns out a lot of people don’t.

By now you’ve seen the U2 album in your iTunes application. Apple decided that you wanted it. They gave it to you. . .it’s like a gift. Why wouldn’t you want a gift?

Partly because if I have to take something, it’s not a gift. It’s more like a fee or a tax. But, worse is what that 500,000,000 “giveaway” does to the struggling artist, or writer, or musician. It kills them.

You might ask:

How does U2 giving away an album hurt anyone?

Because it reinforces the idea that music, especially online music, is not worth paying for. Why should I buy albums when I can download them off of Youtube? Why should I buy books if I can access them from If a picture is posted on the internet doesn’t that mean that anyone can freely copy it? (Not really.)

U2, regardless of the quality of their music, has reinforced the idea that digital rights do not apply.

I can see you now, saying:

Rodney, I think you’re overreacting about a simple launch promotion.

Think about this. If you go on iTunes and buy the newest Brad Paisley album, Moonshine In the Trunk, are you allowed to burn those tracks to a CD and hand them out to your friends? Of course not. You can make your own “archive” copy, but that’s it. Why? Because you paid for it.

Now, imagine you have a friend who doesn’t have an iTunes account. Odd, I know. Maybe think of a grandparent or something. Can you burn the new U2 album to a CD and hand it to your grandma?

See the problem?

If I never paid for it. If none of us paid for it, then it’s not really possible to pirate it. Of course, you can make a copy for grandma. And if you can burn U2 to a CD and give it away, why can’t you do that with your other iTunes songs? Does the U2 album include clever “share freely” stickers that are missing from the other albums? Nope.

Now, you might ask,

Rodney, why do you care?

I’m glad you asked.

I care because I am a content creator, and I have friends who are content creators. U2 can afford to give away an album. (The reported $100,000,000 from Apple means U2 isn’t exactly coming out on the short end of the stick.) But, most artists cannot afford to give their music away for free. I have a sister-in-law who is a professional photographer. She deals with piracy all the time. No, pictures on the internet are not free to copy.

Someone recently asked me if I worry about people plagiarizing my blog posts. Seriously? No. I don’t. I love and appreciate you readers, but if someone wants to take my writings and spread them around? It’s why we write.

On the other hand, I’m completely scrupulous when I post a picture. I always include a link to where it came from. Sometimes that’s the content owner, sometimes it’s someone who lifted the picture from elsewhere. Regardless, I know it isn’t mine.

U2 is helping the pirates.

Today is September 19th. It is the official Talk Like a Pirate day. I’ll leave it to you if that pirate would say

Arggh, Me hearties. More rum!


Can you copy the new Brad Paisley album for me?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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