Aside from one or two of our more irreverent reviews, few TMT pieces have sparked the kind of fierce debate — both behind the scenes here and on the internet at large — as former TMT contributor Chris Ruen’s 2009 feature, “The Myth of DIY: Towards a Common Ethic of Piracy.” Along with its companion piece, “Fuck Love, Let’s Make Dystopia,” the article called into question the premise that the read availability of free content on the internet is an unambiguously good thing, and in the process, it hit a lot of indie music fans where it hurt the most: their conscience.

Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity provides Ruen with a larger canvass upon which to develop the ideas that he’s sketched out in his shorter works, namely that the act of illegally downloading unlicensed digital content (or “freeloading”) has dire consequences, not just on artists, labels, and the surrounding industry apparatus, but for the future of our cultural development. While Ruen assembles an impressive arsenal of support for his position, the entire crux of his argument lays in a simple premise: that an artist has the exclusive right to “distribute works in a manner as s/he chooses” and are entitled to “extend that right… to any legal business partner.” It’s a statement so self-evident that it shouldn’t even need to be defended; however, given the historical context surrounding the freeloading debate, it becomes much easier to see how we, as a society, have lost sight of this.

Read the full review at Tiny Mix Tapes.

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