Broken-down Poetry: Title Track: Shall steal no more


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Title Track: Shall steal no more

This wasn’t something I wanted to write about. In fact, as I sit here, there’s still that urge inside of me to let it go. To just let it go. …
But I can’t.
See, everyone has those certain “taboo topics” of discussion that they avoid at all possible. For most people, it’s religion, politics or abortion. For me, it’s music piracy. People talk about it way too much; we’re beating a dead horse.
Last July, however, my very favorite band, Thrice, finished recording their most recent album, planning to release it in October. By late July the album was leaked over the Internet. This crisis caused Thrice to release an electronic version of their album on iTunes in early August with the hardcopy available in September.
This frustrates me for two reasons. One, you don’t mess with my Thrice. I don’t care who you think you are – you do not, under any circumstances, steal from Thrice. (Heh, excuse this outburst, please.)
Secondly, Thrice didn’t release their album in July for a reason – they weren’t done with it. By hacking and leaking, you are stopping the artist from perfecting his masterpiece. It’s as if you read my column before my editors had a chance. Piracy not only literally robs the artist of the money he deserves for his creation; it robs him of the respect his fans should give him.
With that being said:
How many of us have burned CDs, mixed tracks or whole albums?
How many of us have filled flash drives with mp3s to share with our friends?
And how many of us “borrow” music from the library by renting CDs and downloading them to iTunes?
My friend Jacque is so adamantly opposed to any level of music sharing that she won’t even listen to a mixed CD.
My friend Todd got locked out of Huntington University’s Internet server for having downloaded too many albums, movies, TV series and computer games.
I want so desperately to find a happy medium where not only my wallet is full, but my conscience is clear as well. So I turn to the apostle Paul.
He’s the guy who said that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” I like this verse because it lets me justify bad behavior. As long as it doesn’t “master” me, all’s well.
But Paul is also the guy who said that “he who steals shall steal no longer.” So should the question become whether or not file-sharing is considered stealing? Or, to what extent does it become stealing?
I find myself wrestling with this a lot – what are we to do about the grey areas in the Bible? If something isn’t banned in the Ten Commandments or warned against by Jesus, Peter or Paul, does that make it permissible? Is it OK to cuss? Is it OK to watch R-rated movies (after IWU graduation, of course)?
And at the same time, is such behavior acting out of rebellion or as a way to connect with our unsaved brothers and sisters?
I assume this column will end with more questions than it started with. Because part of me knows that if music burning is really stealing, than I am guilty. But as a fallen human being, I so desire to find a loophole in the system, to find a way to justify my sinful nature.
For those of you who stay away from torrents and CD burners, I commend you. Honestly, I wish I could think more of the musician’s loss of money rather than how much money I’m saving. In time, I hope, I’ll get to that place.

The post was originally printed in Indiana Wesleyan University's The Sojourn newspaper.

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