The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #130115   Message #2925633
Posted By: plnelson
11-Jun-10 - 03:02 PM
Thread Name: Ethical Question
Subject: Ethical Question
I'd like to get opinions on an ethical matter from denizens of Mudcat because many people here are musicians.

I love traditional folk music and I've been building up a huge collection of it as MP3's, which I annotate with lyrics and other information in the tags.    By far, my best source of this is streaming internet "radio", most of which appears to be run by small-time enthusiasts. (the "bigtime" folk radio sites, like FolkAlley lean more toward singer-songwriter work rather than traditional) I capture hours of music overnight and then extract the songs I want in an MP3 editor.

I firmly believe that musicians should get paid for their work, so I would never deliberately download a song for the purpose of getting it for free, but here's the problem:

1. I didn't pay for any of this music.   But I have no way to capture annotation content that I know of so I usually don't know who the artist is.   On the occasions where I can identify the artist and the track is somehow for sale, e.g., Rhapsody or Amazon, then I buy it (even though I already have a copy) just so the artist gets paid. But those sources have very limited collections of traditional folk, and much of it leans toward "big names" like the Clancy Brothers or Steeleye Span, which is not usually what I collect.

2. Much of the time I have no way to identify the artist and, as you know, there are often dozens if not hundreds of extant performances of the "same" traditional folk songs by artists all over the world.   And in many cases where I can identify the performer and track the work is long out of print, the artist dead, etc.

I enjoy my music collection, and I feel that it may be of value to others in the future because much of it is obscure, I have many versions of the "same" songs and the annotations I'm adding could provide added usefulness.   Furthermore I feel that I'm preserving music that may otherwise disappear.   But I feel a bit guilty that I got all this music for free when someone once worked hard to create it.

Thoughts, opinions, advice?