Money 4 Nothing

Bootleggers, Hippies, and…Lawyers: How piracy remade music with Dr. Alex Sayf Cummings.

April 6, 2021

When people talk about music piracy, it almost always carries a 21st century slant— Napster, Pirates Bay, iPods and so on. As it turns, battles over who has a right to make and sell music has a FAR longer history, one that stretches from the jazz loving Hot Record Society in the 1940s to acid-fried hippies trying to take Dylan to the people, and the battles around sampling that reshaped hip hop in the 90s. To learn more, we talked to Dr. Alex Sayf Cummings, whose book “Democracy of Sound” dives into the long and messy story of how folks on the outside of the industry (and often, the law) remade the systems of copyright and ownership that define our favorite sonic commodity. Come for the Basement Tapes and Biz Markie. Stay for the story of Modular Records, owned and operated by FBI undercover agents. 

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