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A Plea to "Save" Our Music Copyrights

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08/22/2006
In a post last month, I mentioned "Weird Al" Yankovic's dispute with Atlantic Records over a song parody recorded for his new album. Yankovic ended up releasing the song as a free download rather than include it on the album, which is scheduled for release next month. Now, Yankovic has made a second song available for free download. This song will actually be on the album--called "Straight Outta Lynwood"--but the subject matter lent itself to a free download. Sung to a melody reminscient of "We Are The World" is "Don't Download This Song":
Once in a while maybe you will feel the urge
To break international copyright law
By downloading mp3s from file-sharing sites
Like Morpheus or Grokster or Limewire or KaZaA
But deep in your heart you know the guilt would drive you mad
And the shame would leave a permanent scar
'Cause you start out stealing songs, and then you're robbing liquor stores
And selling crack and running over school kids with your car SSo don't download this song The record store's where you belong Go and buy the CD like you know that you should Oh, don't download this song Oh, you don't wanna mess with the RIAA They'll sue you if you burn that CD-R It doesn't matter if you're a grandma or a 7-year-old girl They'll treat you like the evil, hard-bitten criminal scum you are So don't download this song Don't go pirating music all day long Go and buy the CD like you know that you should Oh, don't download this song Don't take away money from artists just like me How else can I afford another solid gold Humvee? And diamond-studded swimming pools, these things don't grow on trees So all I ask is, everybody, please... Don't download this song Even Lars Ulrich knows it's wrong Go and buy the CD like you know that you should Oh, don't download this song... Don't download this song Or you might wind up in jail like Tommy Chong Go and buy the CD like you know that you should Oh, don't download this song... Don't download this song Or you'll burn in Hell before too long Go and buy the CD like you know that you should Oh, don't download this song
Perhaps the lesson here is that supporters of libertarianism and Austrian economics need to spend less time writing treatises and journal articles and more time recording humorous songs to spread the word. More on the RIAA's download crackdown here, here, here, and here.

Skip Oliva is a writer and paralegal in Virginia (skip@skipoliva.com).

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