I am a computer nerd, and beyond that I am a college student. Because of these two factors, I have little space for things and am always at the computer. Logically, therefore, I use my beloved PowerMac G4 Tower (Nadia) to listen to music, as it saves me the space a stereo would take and the computer is always on when I am around.

So far, this has worked well. I plop a CD into Nadia, she starts iTunes and retrieves all of the track names off the internet, and I press play. But Universal Music Group (UMG) has other ideas.

You see, not everybody is how I am (GASP!). When I like an artist and I like that artists’ music, I actually go to a store (or in most cases to Amazon.com) and purchase the cd. This is for multiple reasons. First, I like to have the CD artwork. Second, I think that if I enjoy the artists work they deserve some money from me. Third, as much as we like to make them out as villains (with some justification, admittedly) the record companies do drop a lot of money into production and promotion and they deserve some profit as well.

But apparently, along with the poor taste in music most people have nowadays, they also fail to notice that downloading music is illegal for a reason. It takes money away from artists and the companies that produce that music. It’s stealing, as unpleasant as it sounds, and people should stop doing it.

What’s my point? Well for ages I just let this by. Though I didn’t download stuff [except on rare occasion], I just let other people go about thinking they’re just fine. Since most of them didn’t think of it as stealing, I figured they were not badly-intentioned and didn’t worry too much about it. But now, those actions have met with UMG’s utter stupidity to directly harm myself and buying-music-lovers everywhere. Now it’s time that I make a stance about it all.

As some may have heard, UMG has released their first major copy-protected release in the United States, and they plan to have their entire production of CD’s to come copy-protected by the middle of this year. This copy-protection scheme makes it impossible (or nearly so) to either copy cd’s or rip their contents into MP3 files. Why does this bother me? BECAUSE AS A SIDE EFFECT, THESE CDS CANNOT EVEN BE PLAYED IN COMPUTERS! Now sure, UMG will also offer a music-subscription service which will allow people like me to listen to the music in their computers, however this solution (standing alone) doesn’t come with the artwork, and this solution (when combined with purchasing the real CD) charges people TWICE!

Now don’t think I’m misdirecting my anger. UMG deserves a TON of blame, because they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot with this one. The music-copying nerd programmers (who typically ARE badly-intentioned) will find a workaround and you’ll all still get your illegal music, whilst people like me will STOP BUYING UMG CDS! They’ll lose money off of this deal, I guarantee, and I’ll lose out on having a lot of artists whose work I enjoy included in my ever-growing CD collection.

So do me a favour, boycott UMG. Boycott all of their subsidiary record labels like Interscope Geffen A&M, Island Def Jam Music, MCA Nashville, MCA Records, Motown Records, Mercury Nashville, Verve Music, Universal Classics, Universal Music, and Lost Highway.

Stop buying CDs from UMG artists until they wake up and either switch labels or force UMG to shift views. This includes Bryan Adams, American Hi-Fi, Erykah Badu, Beck, Mary J. Blige, Blink-182, Bloodhound Gang, Boyz II Men, Counting Crows, Sheryl Crow, Def Leppard, DMX, Dr. Dre, Dru Hill, Eminem, Melissa Etheridge, Godsmack, Amy Grant, Guns N’ Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Hoku, Hole, Jay-Z, K-Ci & Jo-Jo, B.B. King, Kiss, Alison Krauss, Limp Bizkit, LL Cool J, Marilyn Manson, Reba McEntire, Method Man, Moody Blues, Nelly, Nine Inch Nails, 98 Degrees, No Doubt, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Ruff Ryders, S Club 7, Semisonic, Sisqo, Sister Hazel, Smash Mouth, Sting, George Strait, the Temptations, 3 Doors Down, 2pac, Shania Twain, U2, The Wallflowers, Weezer, White Zombie, Lee Ann Womack, Stevie Wonder, Wynonna, Trisha Yearwood, and Rob Zombie just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, these are great artists (well, some of them) but a clear message must be sent.

However UMG’s stupidity in-and-of-itself didn’t cause this. No, they’ve been stupid for years and I’ve still been able to play their CDs. That stupidity had to be meshed with halfway-unintentional harm caused by those who download free and illegal copies of music instead of putting down the $5 (single) or $12 (album) to own it legally. You have shortchanged semi-legit corporations, you have shortchanged great artists, you have shortchanged law-abiding music lovers, and you have shortchanged yourselves without neccesarily even realising it.

So lets stop doing it. Those who are part of the problem here need to solve it by sending a clear message to anti-productive ‘services’ like MusicCity Morpheus, AudioGalaxy, Gnutella, and LimeWire that they have caused as much damage as they are going to, and we no longer want them directly pressing short-sighted labels to harm music and music lovers. Likewise, everybody needs to send a message to UMG through boycott and through email that their remedy will do more harm than good. Do the right thing, stand up for the rights of music lovers everywhere, and help me out so I’m not the only one fighting this battle . . .