In this letter to the editor, the Executive Director of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, attempts to defend the standpoint of songwriters, who are apparently the "real victims" in the music wars.
Meet Charles Strouse, who wrote songs for "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Annie:"
Mr. Strouse took in about $250,000 from recording royalties in 2002, according to his publisher, Helene Blue. Last year, she said, Mr. Strouse drew only about half that total, mainly because of illegal downloading of various recordings containing his songs.
Oh, boo hoo. Only more than a hundred thousand dollars. Quite the "hard knock life."
But let's assume there are songwriters out there that are suffering because of downloading. Does Basskin mention them, in an attempt to appeal to our conscience (after reading the original article, I wanted to download Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" and think of the nickel I had just cheated Charlie Strouse out of)? No. Instead, he turns to arcane and peripheral arguments.
Basskin ignores Seltzer's points about the economy and authorized online distribution systems (and she did not even mention that a large quantity of the music today sucks), choosing instead to claim that the analogy of songwriters as buggy manufacturers "insults songwriters and composers, without whom there would be no music at all. Buggies are outmoded, replaced by cars. But who can replace the songwriter? Can the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and those who favor the "sharing" of music without compensation for its creators, do so?"
I had no idea that songwriters and composers were such an elite class, with their unique ability to write songs. We are not worthy. Surely, nothing except a human of exceptional intelligence and talent could create the wondeful melodies that we listen to today. If this is Basskin's position toward songwriters, one must wonder how he feels about singers, those shining paragons of human virtue.
Basskin ends his letter with one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. He says, "the rights of creators have to come first, if only because creation precedes consumption."
In Basskin's small little world (I know he is from Canada, but still...), music, no matter how horrible or ridiculous, has some inherent value. This is wrong. Music has value because (and only because) people consume it. While the "rights of the creator" are important, they are secondary to the rights of the consumer(s, if you are not talking about William Shatner). I find it a bit ironic that Basskin does not realize this, because he is Canadian, after all.