Just read an interesting paper: Pop Song Piracy, Fake Books, and a Pre-history of Sampling by Barry Kernfeld, presented at the Copyright and the Networked Computer: A Stakeholder’s Congress conference. Kernfeld gives a brief history of bootleg fake books (books of lyrics and chord progressions that musicians use to get the gist of a song) and draws comparison to the music industry’s current jihad against file-sharing. From the intro:
I’d like to give a quick soup-to-nuts tour through the second half of a book in progress entitled Pop Song Piracy: Bootleg Song Sheets, Fake Books, and America’s First Criminal Copyright Trials. The first half of my book might be called “Napster in the 1930s.” It resurrects the forgotten story of bootleg song sheets (initially, newspaper-sized sheets of pop-song lyrics, and then, from the mid-1930s, song-lyric magazines). The bootleg sheets, which emerged in 1929, elicited a hysterical response from the music industry, which fought vigorously against these products for roughly a decade, using every legal ploy available, before discovering, extremely reluctantly and somewhat inadvertently, that assimilation was a much more successful policy than prohibition. The simple and obvious historical lesson to be drawn from this story, is that the essential nature of the American music industry is to defend deeply entrenched interests, without regard for change, and in its current-day reactions to Napster and Kazaa, the industry is re-living an expected and already well-established mode of behavior.