Copyright Laws vs. Teens: The Battle Rages

When famed Broadway songwriter Jason Bert Brown discovered his songs were being “traded” freely online by those who had never purchased a legal copy, he thoughtfully requested that the traders stop the illegal trading. Read this fascinating exchange with a recalcitrant yet extremely bright and articulate teenager. Eleanor’s teenage sense of entitlement is absolutely breathtaking. Her arguments are devoid of any sense of morality (other than her own moral outrage at being asked to remove the illegal songs), yet her rationalizations at stealing other people’s music without paying the $3.99 download fee are worthy of a silver-tongued trial lawyer.  

Please read this exchange in it’s entirety, and more importantly, read it to your own kids and students. I would love to hear from you on how Eleanor’s slippery moral and “aesthetic” arguments for copyright theft either resonate with or repel other teens. The technology is in place for easy illegal “trading” of music: now it’s time to work on how to instill in teens (and adults, I might add) the sense of responsibility, ethics, and control needed to understand and appreciate why copyright violation, though easy, is both illegal and immoral.

This dramatic battle between the composer and the teen is itself worthy of a Broadway play, and a Pulitzer. Read it now:

  FIGHTING WITH TEENS: A Copyright Story

2 thoughts on “Copyright Laws vs. Teens: The Battle Rages”

  1. When first reading about the blog my sister is featured in, I was stuck… As her brother I should take her side but as a composer I should be completely against what she is doing. It made me sit down and think about both sides of the argument. My conclusion is quite simple: Both are correct and both are wrong.

    I agree with JRB about copyright laws prohibiting it, protecting one’s own work, etc. but some do not have a choice. The problem lies in that many composers think of this as an insult when really it is a compliment. Because music has evolved to be harder, and more impressive, it is also harder to obtain as there is more of it. Yes, it is very wrong to download it and only use it for personal gain, such as a concert that makes money, or a public performance.

    I do recall that copyright laws are a bit grey in the area that is education. From what I understand with “fair use” and all that, is if it is for educational purposes… then it is not illegal. In that light, Brenna (Eleanor is her middle name, for some reason she does not like to go by her first name) is not wrong in HER use of it. She was wrong sharing it with those who might not have used it for education, but she always does.

    Some forget that even though copyright laws protect the composer there are certain instances that do not need the expressed permission of the rights holder.

    As a composer, educator, business owner, and performer, I always agree that copyright laws should be followed, but do not think that everyone who seems to be breaking them are actually breaking them. I do agree something has to be done with websites that make it easy for those who are not in school, using the copies for personal gain, to access them. Shutting down these websites though will only make things worse and make the culprits try even harder to access said works of art/literature. Maybe instead, people that are against such acts of illegality should push to have a username and password instituted so that the website must confirm the individual IS actually a student such as how Facebook did back when it first started up (you had to have a “.edu” email to sign up).

    That’s just my view though.
    -Aaron Safer

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