Sumerian Records co-founder Ash Avildsen has made his thoughts on music piracy pretty clear with a video message that he posted online at the end of March. To simply put it, he’s extremely against it. However, the additional chatter the video has created has lead to some criticism. One of the most vocal criticism came recently from The Gauntlet’s Jason Fisher, though he’s not exactly against the principals that Avildsen speaks to. In a posting on the site, Fisher called out what he felt were hypocritical choice of words from Avildsen by saying the following:
“What Ash doesn’t tell you is that when he was in high school, we ran in the same circles…the software piracy/hacking circles. The quick background version is he gained control of a release group called Release on Rampage which folded, he later started another release group called Reflux (which later became the name of the band he fronted). Both groups sole purpose was pirating video games and spreading the games to as many places before they hit store shelves, sound familiar? I was a member of ROR and later moved on to two other groups when ROR folded. The groups I was in were Amnesia (which was the original name of this site before I renamed to The Gauntlet) and Razor 1911. I wasn’t a software pirate in either group, I was a phreak, and had great skills that helped obtaining free phone calls at pay phones and exchanges.
Ash alone has easily cost companies millions of dollars. Both of us ended up with visits from FBI and Secret Service due to our activities. People can grow and change and this includes viewpoints, but what I think Ash fails to point out in his post is that he was once one of these people with no regards for the companies that spent millions of dollars on a product to have some kid give it away for free. I would expect a little understanding and reasoning from him of all people.”
Avildsen was quick to respond to Fisher’s piece, sending the following statement to the Gauntlet, then forwarding to our friends at Metal Sucks:
“Dear Jason @ The Gauntlet,
Congratulations on bringing traffic to your site by exploiting my name and childhood. I like the House of Blues Ad you have there next to my name. Yes, from ages 11-15 in the days of dial-up modems, BBS and IRC, before cell phones and websites, I pirated PC video games. I also stole cigarettes from convenience stores when I was 13, but later realized smoking cigarettes was bad for my health and that stealing is stupid. Care to do an article on that?
In reference to you quoting my comments on torrent site owners who sell ad-space on their pages yet don’t pay the bands they’re stealing from: your point makes no sense. Those torrent sites make big bucks off the advertisements sold from the internet traffic of illegal music downloading, You know as a fellow old school warez guy that we risked our freedom and did it for the thrill and the online community. None of us ever made a penny from being into warez. As you know, it was an underground subculture of certain people from all around the world, ahead of their times in technology, working together. Most access was invite-only to get on the FTP sites & IRC channels and you had to do your part in the scene to enjoy the benefits of it, i.e. far from being a lamer going to google and typing in what you want to steal before it’s available to the general public. Razor 1911 was about being superstars, not jobbers.
Regardless, I am not 13 years old anymore and I do not condone stealing. I think stealing any art is bad, whether it is a book, music, video games or a painting. I think stealing is especially disgraceful when it’s from struggling independent people, e.g. a mom and pop operated neighborhood small restaurant or an underground touring musician trying to build a career. Thank you for your complements on your site and thanks for publicly agreeing that music piracy is bad. Good to hear from you dude, even if it’s by this. You live in California, don’t be a stranger.
– Ash Avildsen”
Whether you agree with Avildsen or Fisher is about the past being the past is up to you. So with that in mind and after reading both statements, as well as Metal Sucks’ analysis of the video that started this all, what do you think?