Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

Stop Thief!

I like to keep this article fun, loose, informing and casual. But, we have a serious situation to talk about!

A few weeks ago I was at a small residential renovation job site in Annapolis. The General Contractor and the homeowner met with me to discuss the scope of work and what could be done within budget for the audio and video systems to be installed in the house. OK, that’s cool. But, when I say the General Contractor was not very technical, I am being kind. In fact, I doubt his ability to spell iPod. He was good with a broom, but that’s about it. OK, we all have our strengths, but this individual’s strength was being opinionated. He really didn’t know “jack” about much of anything, but he sure had opinions on everything and was happy to share. And, he was also happy to say that he owned an iPod. That’s when things really went downhill!

To quote him, “I got an iPod and (a well known Eastern Shore DJ’s name to remain anonymous) put 1500 songs on it for me for free! OK, dude so you can’t spell iPod but you do know how to hit “play”. I’ll give you that! When I pointed out that digital coping was both wrong and illegal, he looked at me like I was from another planet. Why, what’s the problem? Nobody knows. I didn’t hurt anybody. It’s just music. What’s the problem? The problem was that 1500 songs were digitally duplicated illegally to his iPod.

Would any of us steal a pack of gum? Probably not, how about $100? How about $1000? Most of us wouldn’t think of stealing $1500! At 99 cents a song this guy had stolen almost $1500. And the commercially paid DJ with the big catalog of music was the source. I can only imagine how many other friends of the DJ received illegal duplicates.

Back in the day my friends and I thought we were really cool to make a cassette tape of an album, another tape or even a Compact Disc (CD). The reason it wasn’t illegal was because we were using analog technology. Each copy degraded a little from the previous source. Sure you could make 100 copies of a clean master, but that rarely happened. Ultimately we were making copies of copies and the 50
th copy was really bad. Musicians, record labels and hollywood didn’t care if you copied a movie from a VHS tape to another VHS tape. But with today’s digital technology, the 100th copy is an exact image of the “master”. The music and movie industries are getting ripped off every minute of the day by the general population, aka, digital bandits! As you can imagine, it’s not that hard to get around ”copy protection software” and make mirror identical images of the source content. Just ask your local teenager! I’m not picking on teenagers, they’re just incredibly smarter than they should be! They’re on tight budgets, and if they can get music or movies for free, that is a good thing?

All of us can “rationalize” almost anything. But make no mistake, if you own a digital copy of “intellectual content” that you didn’t pay for, you stole something. The buzz-word here is “intellectual content”. What if you copied a paperback novel (soon to be a thing of our past!) and sold paper copies? That isn’t right even if you gave the copies away for free. The author is experiencing lost revenue, not to mention the publisher, and on and on down the food chain. It’s the same deal with digital entertainment copying, music, movies, and software. It’s all “intellectual property”. How about that copy of Microsoft Word you acquired? HMMMMM.

If you or your children don’t own stolen intellectual property, you know someone that does. Lots of people think its fun, free and “why should we pay when we can get it for free?” Nobody knows we have it, and we’re not hurting anybody.

“Sweet Home Alabama”. I bet there are more than a million unpaid copies of that tune. That’s conservatively $1 million. Southern Skies are So Blue! SKYNYRD!

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but, there is a word that refers to people that steal. Don’t be a “thief”!