Monday 8 September 2014

Don’t Judge Me

I consider myself to be a relatively honest person. I guess the key word in that sentence would be “relatively”.

I was caught shoplifting from a Zellers store when I was eight or so. They called the police, my parents and for all I know, they may have told God. The store had a zero tolerance policy when it came to theft so I was charged and a court date was set. That’s right, a court date was set. Bastards! I was an eight year old kid without any priors.

I have mentioned this incident before, so there is no need to go into the specifics. Let’s just say that I was marked for life by this incident. It isn’t that I can’t steal any more, I can justify almost anything and there is a flexibility built into any set of morals to create just a little wiggle room. I guess that’s so you can sleep at night if you happen to be a particularly moral person. I don’t have any trouble sleeping at night but sometimes during the day there is an internal dialogue that is hard to turn off.

When I was a pre-teen and teen, I would listen to the radio and like most kids I would beg my parents for the cash to buy the latest 45 with “One Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater”. There were other 45’s of course, but none that described my musical taste better. I eventually bought some Beatles, Elvis and the Monkeys, quickly moving to the 33RPM’s which gave more bang for my buck. I could get a just released album for about $3. I still have most of those albums, except for a few that I left somewhere at a party that I can’t remember. When a roommate and I went our separate ways, some albums that he took are still in dispute after all these years. Neither one of us has a working, setup record player, but we both still have the albums we bought. Well, and Bill has a few of mine…just sayin’.

Albums were a very good deal back then. Not only did you get forty minutes or so of music, but you also got a glimpse into the minds behind the music from the album artwork and liner notes. I spent hours looking at the covers of Sgt. Pepper and any of the Moody Blues albums. To be fair, a large part of that time was spent trying to focus and coughing.

After albums the record industry came out with cassette tapes which were okay music wise, but they were far too small to have any kind of liner notes that were worth looking at. People started to make mix tapes of their own because a lot of machines would come with two tape players and you could play with one and record with the other. The industry didn’t mind this copying too much because the quality wasn’t very good. After tapes came CD’s which had a pretty good quality and sort of looked like tiny albums. The problem in my mind is that the price of a new CD could be anywhere from $20 to $30. Way too much money!

The advent of personal computers with the ability to make an exact copy of a CD got the record companies worried. They should worry the blood sucking bastards! It turned out that the CD’s they were charging us $30, cost them pennies to make. No one would have bothered copying a CD if it were just a few bucks, not worth the effort. I guess the companies wanted to make a huge pile instead of a healthy profit. Now, with the advent of MP3’s music is being shared with ease and the music industry is scrambling to try and find ways to protect their industry. Tough job.

I have no problem making copies of music. I justify it by telling myself that Paul McCartney won’t miss a couple of bucks. The reality is that I resent paying $30 for something that cost 20¢ to make. I now have the same feeling towards DVD’s. The technology is there to make copies and I have become desensitized about the legality since the days of the cassette. If I don’t give it much thought I am fine with it.

In fact, I am able to get really pissed off when I come across a DVD whose makers have made it difficult to make copies. If I weren’t too cheap, I could just buy one of the many DVD ripping programs on the market. I want to steal, and I want to steal for free!

I have a Disney movie that resists the free ripping programs I have which is really frustrating. I could just get this movie from the library when I want to see it. I could buy one of those fine ripping programs. I could but I won’t. I’m going to steal a copy of the costly ripping program.


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