Like many young people, Chris Ruen downloaded music illegally without much thought until he learned many of his favorite “successful” indie artists were making less than he did working as a barista. That simple insight eventually led Ruen to this book, which makes a compelling case for a revived debate that moves past old arguments about Metallica and RIAA lawsuits. Unlike some leading pro-IP writers, Ruen takes a moderate, pragmatic approach, favoring shorter copyright terms, and acknowledging the many flaws of SOPA. Most crucially, Ruen devotes the middle third of his book talking to people whose voices have been all too absent from these debates: working musicians, independent labels and DIY promoters. Freeloading provides a thoughtful, important counterargument to thinkers like Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow who espouse ideals of openness but perhaps haven’t fully reckoned with the financial impacts on working artists.

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