When famed Broadway songwriter Jason Bert Brown discovered his songs were being “traded” freely online by those who had never purchased a legal copy, he thoughtfully requested that the traders stop the illegal trading. Read this fascinating exchange with a recalcitrant yet extremely bright and articulate teenager. Eleanor’s teenage sense of entitlement is absolutely breathtaking. Her arguments are devoid of any sense of morality (other than her own moral outrage at being asked to remove the illegal songs), yet her rationalizations at stealing other people’s music without paying the $3.99 download fee are worthy of a silver-tongued trial lawyer.
Please read this exchange in it’s entirety, and more importantly, read it to your own kids and students. I would love to hear from you on how Eleanor’s slippery moral and “aesthetic” arguments for copyright theft either resonate with or repel other teens. The technology is in place for easy illegal “trading” of music: now it’s time to work on how to instill in teens (and adults, I might add) the sense of responsibility, ethics, and control needed to understand and appreciate why copyright violation, though easy, is both illegal and immoral.
This dramatic battle between the composer and the teen is itself worthy of a Broadway play, and a Pulitzer. Read it now: