This post is about how legal, or illegal, it is to offer up a non-officially recorded and/or released live show for download.
Let us examine who is likely to download one of these shows in the first place. No, let us first examine the audio quality of the show in question. More often than not, it will suck. B+, A-, they are euphemisms for “bad quality audio”.
Next, on to the profile of the “Potential Downloader”. Debby from around the corner, who is into Beyonce sure doesn’t fit that profile (the poor girl’s in for a big surprise if she downloads any of this “depraved music”). This leaves us with two main categories: (1) the Curious Neophite Zappa fan — a potential customer, and (2) the Completist — a registered customer, one who has bought pretty much all of the official releases, interested in hearing any one single note difference between show A (say, November 15, 1973) and B (November 16, 1973, Late Show).
These are our demographics — agreed?
Explain to me then, how it is deemed a crime to make these live shows freely available for download online. The Curious Neophite, at best, will end up buying official releases, that have much better quality. The Completist will gently nod his head while puffing his pipe, dreaming of the next official release. Moreover, if these shows are not presented freely, some asshole on eBay will be making a profit off of selling them — regardless of how much the audio quality sucks.
A closing quote, if I may. It comes straight from the liner notes of FZ:OZ, as written by GZ:
Bill Lantz, thanks (you bastard) for (not saying by what means you came by) this tape and cooperating (anyway).
These unofficial live shows, in circulation right this minute in so many places, even if we at KUR no longer publish them, serve as food for thought and conversation. They are an essential part of keeping alive the musical legacy of Eff Zee. They provoke discussion among the Completists, lure the Curious Neophite into buying official releases; and as such, should not be banned from the net in my opinion.