SyneRyder - journal

Can I leech some music / software from you?

If you want something where the copyright owner hasn't given permission for it to be copied, then the answer is no. Please don't ask, you'll lose a couple of brownie-points in my good books.

But if you're asking for something that is under Creative Commons licensing, or open source, or freeware/ shareware with a license that allows distribution, then that's probably okay.

But why not? (I simply must know!)

Two reasons: I like to support artists / creators, and I generally believe in respecting their wishes.

Purchasing digital media helps fund continued creative efforts, and also gives feedback to the artist on what's working. People generally only spend money on things they like, whereas downloads are a poor measure of whether people liked the product or not.

As for respecting artist's wishes - I don't feel I'm "entitled" to an artist's works, and artists usually have a considered reason for the distribution/copyright models they choose. Going against that implies that I think I know better than the artist what is right for them.

That said, I'm not the Copyright Police. I'm not as strict as friends of mine who uphold copyright & fight cracks and serials. I don't like draconian DRM hardware locking, and I refused to buy songs on iTunes until they became DRM-free. I also think "it's illegal" is a weak argument... sometimes the laws are wrong. You should never do what people tell you to if it goes against your own morals & ethics. You have to be true to yourself - but that doesn't mean I have to agree with you.

I can't afford it! What do you expect me to do instead?

Be creative and look for alternatives.

For music, there's plenty of artist-approved places to find free music. [2018 Edit: Obviously we live in a Spotify and YouTube world now, so this is obvious. When I wrote this in the mid 2000s, we didn't have those options.] Last.FM is one of my favorite sites, and they often have free full downloads of songs. Kahvi Collective is a great place for free Ambient/IDM music by some of my favorite artists. And of course, there's always free internet radio in iTunes: EBM Radio is one of my favorite radio stations. [2020 Edit: I've recently become a fan of DKFM too, a non-stop Shoegaze station that doesn't take itself seriously. Don't forget all the indie artists providing free downloads from Bandcamp either.]

When I was a kid and couldn't afford all the albums I wanted, I tried creating music like the bands I wanted to hear. It's one of the ways I got into writing music.

With software, if you can't afford to buy it, perhaps you don't really need it. If your client or boss is coercing you to use the program, suggest that they buy it for you - you'll find that they stop pressuring you very quickly. Investigate low-cost alternatives (eg Paint Shop Pro is cheaper than Photoshop), ask if discounts are available (Microsoft offers cheap academic and business licences) and consider freeware or open source alternatives (eg Irfanview and The Gimp are excellent for photo editing). I've used OpenOffice & NeoOffice for years instead of buying Microsoft Office.

You could also talk to the developers of the program and explain why you can't/won't buy the program. Sometimes this will be helpful information to them. If you are prepared to offer something in return they may even give you a free licence. Could you send them an original CD from a local band, local stamps or currency, anything unique? Could you offer your time to be a beta tester? Write a software review or post some YouTube videos showing cool tricks for using the software? If you can offer something that benefits the developer (rather than just asking for a handout), they are more likely to respond positively to you.

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