Have you ever illegally downloaded a song from the internet? How about illicitly burned copies of a CD? Made a “party tape?” Bought a...

Have you ever illegally downloaded a song from the internet? How about illicitly burned copies of a CD? Made a “party tape?” Bought a bootleg album? You may have done these things, but have you purchased a bootlegged song-sheet? In Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929 (University of Chicago, 2011) Barry Kernfeld fills us in on the history of disobedient music reproduction and distribution since, well, before the advent of recording technology. Along the way he discusses the above mentioned disobedient distribution techniques along with a few others: fake books, music photocopying, and pirate radio round out the book. Kernfeld suggests that the history of pop music piracy is never ending, with battles of different types of disobedience taking similar forms: the music “monopolists” (song owners) attempting to enact prohibitions on illegal production and distribution, the failed containment of said production and distribution systems and, finally, the assimilation of disobedient forms into the mainstream production and distribution industries.

Barry Kernfeld is on the staff of the Special Collections Library of the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Story of Fake Books: Bootlegging Songs to Musicians and What to Listen for in Jazz, and he is the editor of The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. He is also a professional jazz saxophonist playing in Jazza-ma-phone and a clarinetist in local musical theater productions.

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