Guys, no joke, music used to be my life. Well, maybe not my “life,” but a huge part of my life. I wanted to run a music venue. I had a first generation ipod in 2002. I did pretty much everything along to a soundtrack—getting ready, studying, walking to class, driving, etc. I went to shows. I knew bands. I set up shows. I made really awesome mixtapes and CDs. I was the secretary of our college radio station during grad school. My friend and I did a radio show. I made it my business to know the sociology and history of modern rock and roll. I learned about subcultures stemming from various musical genres. My roommates and I even started a band.
My so-called “copyright” OCD
But when the OCD came on strong, music was one of the big things it attacked. It made me feel intense guilt for all the CDs I burned and all the mixes I made and gave away. I purged so many burned CDs. I tried to buy many of them used (ideally) so I could have “legal” copies. I may have even written an email to the recording industry, trying to atone for my sin of burning and copying CDs. I looked up lawsuits that had been brought against people related to copyright infringement. I researched itunes laws about how many copies of songs you could make or whatnot. And I became obsessive about how and where I listened to music.
I remember having an obsession on the train when my husband and I visited England a few years ago because I was listening to music on my phone, probably, but the headphone jack wasn’t properly connected and the music (Morrissey, I think) started playing out loud. I worried that I had violated a law somehow by “broadcasting” music without a license—yes, those few seconds of a Morrissey song on a train in London. I worried and felt badly about it, but I didn’t allow myself to go past that.
I also used to worry about playing clips of songs in my class when I taught at a university. I researched “Fair Use” and how much of a song you could play without violating copyright restrictions. I made very sure I stayed under that time limit. When I used a music video for analysis with the class, I asked permission from the band (whom I loosely knew). I used that song mostly because I knew I could contact the band and ask for said permission.
Hitting it head on
I write all of this now because we are having a dance party at our house for Halloween. This is a big “screw you, OCD” move for me. Playing music for people (and for trick or treaters who randomly come to our house) to hear? Without a “license”! Yes! After all, it is our house, not a public place. Don’t worry, I did my research, though I always still think, “Well, maybe I don’t understand the laws properly… maybe you aren’t really allowed to have a dance party for your friends in your own house….” But we are going to do it. We are excited. And we will hopefully play the music loud enough that the OCD’s going-ons will be drowned out.