We live in a society that is entirely public. Privacy is a thing of the past. (see the Anonymity Experiment) Advertisers and marketers know your shopping habits, your drug prescriptions, your political, religious, and professional sport affiliations. Facebook’s Beacon is only the scapegoat of what any advertiser is frothing at the mouth to implement. The clerks at your grocery store or the people that run the gas station or the car wash are just as likely to steal your credit card number and identity as a random hacker over the internet or some dude scavenging your bills out of your trash can. Anything that can be reproduced digitally will, inevitably and rapidly, end up being illegally distributed over the internet, either for profit, or just for fun.
So why are people still paranoid about privacy and piracy? Fear is only useful when it helps us prevent harm. What’s the point of being afraid of getting salmonella? I don’t need to be afraid of it anymore, I’m just careful around raw food. Loss of privacy is inevitable – you can not prevent it. All you can do is slow it down. I have my cell phone number on my Facebook profile. Yes, I limited my privacy settings so only my virtual “friends” can see it – but if I really didn’t want my cell phone number getting out, I wouldn’t be an IDIOT and put it on the internet. Honestly: how many of you really have a true expectation of privacy when you put any information on the internet? Why be afraid anymore? If you want it private, keep it in your head – nothing else is private. Deal with it.
I’ve talked to a lot of musicians lately, and a lot of them are concerned about their music being pirated. My immediate reaction is always, why? Things are only stolen because they have value. If somebody is stealing your music, it’s because they want it – you don’t suck. That’s wonderful! People want your art! Why would you want to limit your audience? Share the beauty that humans produce with humanity – privacy is selfish.
Let’s say some local aspiring rapper steals your beat and uses it as a hook in his rap song. Maybe a thousand people hear it – maybe it’s only a mediocre song. Perhaps he earned a few hundred bucks from it. Sure, you should be owed some percentage, since he used your intellectual property. But do you really care about (likely no more than) $50 from some local nobody artist? Get a day job if you need $50. However, let’s say some artist steals your beat, and his song turns into the next “Soulja Boy.” Now he’s got millions – and here’s where you might be thinking, “See? He stole my music and now I lost out on all that revenue!”
Our society may be public, but we’re also litigious to a ridiculous extreme. If you can prove that it’s your music – for example, by widely distributing it for free through a medium that can vouch for you – then you’ll win the case, and that rich thief will settle out of court with you for a tidy sum. If you’re crafty enough, you’ll get him to publicly credit you. All of a sudden, you’re rich and famous, because somebody else stole your music. When Kanye and Timbaland come knocking at your door to sample some more of your beats, don’t forget to thank internet piracy.