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I'm not sure why, but for some reason I'm keeping up with the Consumerist's coverage of Best Buy's Geek Squad and their tendency to steal anything—especially porn—from the computers that are brought in for service. (Long story short: if you have incriminating photos/video on your computer you should learn about encryption.) An unexpected nugget in the comments section of a recent post led me to the forums of a goth-industrial-vinyl pants site called Side-Line, where the main guy behind the noise band Caustic (MySpace here) publicly outed a fellow site member who may be uploading independently released albums to sketchy file-sharing sites in Russia.
The debate over the accuser, the accused, and who is or isn't in the wrong raises a couple of interesting questions about the effect of file-sharing on independent musicians and what they can or should do to combat it. Is the "name and shame" technique fair? Petty? Just? How about contacting the uploader's employer, as the Caustic guy did after he found out some of the uploads were coming from the accused's work computer? Is that taking it too far?
I've recently been re-examining my own views on sharing music, especially indie music. For all the ample schadenfreude I get from watching major-label album sales tank, it's disheartening to see the same trends hitting independents. I think trying to get someone fired for making your album free to download is a bit, shall we say, extreme. But I can't help thinking that a guy who uploads a self-released record by a working band without permission is a complete asshole.