Digital Music

Rich Venture Capitalist Converted Into Music Pirate

image from Fred Wilson, a predominate venture capitalist and blogger, converted into a music pirate the other day. This is someone who is extremely well off and, by his own admission, spends upwards of $2,000 a year on music in his family. And yet, Wilson found himself pirating the latest Streets album from the Internet:

"searched the Internet for the record. It was not even listed in iTunes or eMusic. It was listed on Amazon US as an import that would be available on Feb 15th, but only in CD form. I'm not buying plastic just to rip the files and throw it out. Seeing as it was an import, I searched Amazon UK.

And there I found the record in mp3 form for 4 pounds. It was going to be released on Feb 4th. I made a mental note to come back and get it when it was released. I got around to doing that today. I clicked on 'buy with one click' and was greeted with this nonsense "

Here, Amazon told Wilson that he couldn't buy the album as he wasn't from the UK. Next, he tried to find a VPN and fake a UK IP address, but it didn't work.

"So reluctantly, I went to a bit torrent search. I found plenty of torrents for the record and quickly had the record in mp3 form. That took less than a minute compared to the 20+ minutes I wasted trying pretty hard to buy the record legally."

"This is fucked up. I want to pay for music. I value the content. But selling it to some people in some countries and not selling it to others is messed up.

And selling it in CD only format is messed up.

And posting the entire record on the web for streaming without making the content available for purchase is messed up."

This story has grown into a huge debate on his blog. People are taking both sides. While Wilson makes a number of good points, others do too. It's worth noting too that he has since went out and bought the music. So, the question:

Is Wilson in the right or wrong?

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  1. You would post this, haha. Some heated arguments in the comments yesterday. I’m going to say he’s not in the wrong. Technically speaking he might be, but at some point you just have to stop splitting hairs. In this case, the verdict is “not guilty.”

  2. one of the best blogs with comments I have seen in a long time, thanks for posting the link to it. Brilliant.

  3. In a global online world, restrictive release patterns are just stupid. With someone like The Streets, most people outside the UK interested in his new record are going to be fans. So why cut off their access? All you do is alienate the guys who are your best promotion base. And as demonstrated, lose a sale.

  4. @Jay
    Yeah, he may be wrong for pirating the music but as many are sure to point out it was clearly a wrong decision to make it so difficult to buy; I see you subscribe to a different train of thought though (that its their right to make this decision).
    I think that this way of thinking although morally correct, wont actually help make progress unless we see widespread adoption of the same philosophy. Its great that some people do take personal accountability but most people will not.
    So if you ask me their both guilty; I’m sure you know the saying that two wrongs don’t make a right (or sale) though so I don’t think that either party should be about their decisions as they both have their reasons. However if we are to focus on this from a monetisation perspective we can see that theres a spanner in the works that should be avoided if possible…

  5. We do not have the right to something just because we WANT it.
    I find the whole “you can’t buy this UK iTunes Store track because you’re in the US” thing totally ridiculous, as I can buy anything from almost any country I want anywhere else.
    But if some company does not make a product available to me, that’s my loss and theirs. It sucks. It happens sometimes.
    Before the ol’ Internet, I sometimes had to wait years to buy albums from certain UK artists that didn’t get mainstream US releases. That’s the way it goes.
    Don’t want to buy a CD Import? Cry me a river.

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