Bootleg trading ethics: Readers respond

Almost everyone likes free music.

Published May 13, 2005 4:57PM (EDT)

Replies to my question about the ethics of downloading bootlegged concerts have been trickling in all week, and they're overwhelmingly in favor of free trading of bootlegs. As one trader wrote, "My music industry support tends to directly track my trading activity - trading live shows is a stimulus. When Im downloading a lot of music, Im buying a lot of music and going to see a lot of music. All the traders I know are the same. If the industry could figure out this simple dynamic, wed all be in a better position."

There were only a smattering of replies that took a different view, most variants of the "it's illegal so you shouldn't do it" argument, with a few pointing out the possible loss of revenue from official live releases. Michael Borum made one of the few compelling arguments against bootleg trading, and it has nothing to do with money: quality control. For perfectionist artists, it could be seriously disturbing to have sub-par performances circulating, and no way to stop them.

The best argument for allowing free trading of bootlegs? A number of people wrote to tell me that they had already bought CDs as a result of music they heard on the Bootleg Browser.

By Salon Staff

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