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Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Difference Between Sharing and Stealing

My inbox has been inundated with mails about the piracy issue that has arisen due to the spate of alleged leaks of Tarkan's English album.

Tarkan has already made his position clear on piracy in the Turkish music industry. Between the years 2001/02 he actively campaigned for a new Turkish law in the criminal penal system, which was subsequently introduced to criminalise piracy with stronger penalties. To advertise this, his music video to the Ozinga Remix version of his song Hüp has slogans denouncing piracy all over it.

Before that, in a Washington Post article (Nov 18, 2001) about Tarkan, his manager Michael Lang expressed that Tarkan's biggest problem is wide-scale piracy. For every album he sells an illegal copy has been made and sold on the streets.

In relation to Tarkan and my own work I thought that I had made my position on piracy clear, too. But from the continuing mail coming to my inbox it seems that I have to clarify my position again.

From the beginning, when I first started helping Tarkan fans out on the Web my manifesto has been:

  • 1) Never to provide links to CD audio quality mp3s of Tarkan's music, which is available to be purchased on the Net or in the shops. I don't believe in the excuse "They don't sell Tarkan CD's in my country," because Tarkan is not like any other Turkish artist. He is widely available on all major European legal download music sites - for example, I have purchased rare Tarkan LPs from all across the world;
  • 2) Never to make any money off Tarkan's name - EVER. I have seen some people try to flog TV footage of Tarkan for over £100 pounds on Ebay. Auction off your entire collection that you purchased legally by all means, but simply trying to make money off something that has Tarkan's name on it that cost the owner nothing and consequently making 100% profit off the singer's name just doesn't seem right in my opinion. As there is no way to legally purchase this type of thing, then it should be shared freely amongst fans, shouldn't it? There is a difference between sharing and stealing, even if it is a fine line;
  • 3) Always to allow people to use my translations for private and public use FOR FREE AS LONG AS THEY SIMPLY ASK MY PERMISSION first and provide a link to me as original source. I will not ask for money as I refuse to make money off Tarkan's name, but I will not allow people to just steal my work and enhance their own websites with my input, and not to suffer the conscience to credit my work with my name. It's amazing how many site owners lack Internet etiquette or the knowledge to credit sources correctly;
  • 4) My sites are only portals for English speaking fans of the pop singer to get to know him a little better. I have never purported to be a site about Tarkan, but a site for Tarkan fans and my translations. In this respect, when I have used my site for other purposes, no one should have even tried to accuse me of abusing his name, because if my sites are popular it is not simply due to the fact it has Tarkan in the url. That just brings people to the site. If they stay or return, they return for Ali Yildirim's translations. It is also laughable when you consider that those whom accused me of this are the self-same people who download illegal copies of his songs and provide links to them on their self-managed sites. In my opinion it is these type of sites that abuse Tarkan's name and work. None of my sites have ever done this.

I understand that fans love Tarkan dearly. But it would be beneficial if they could try and see it from Tarkan's perspective, and to understand the difficulties he faces.

Even the name of an album being released too early could have disastrous effects. For some person might buy out all the domain names with www.Tarkan(add album title here).com and then ask Tarkan to buy it off them for a silly, high amount of money, or to use as a quick method to get a high number of visitors to their site by tricking them into thinking it is about Tarkan. I'm sure Tarkan has to buy these names well in advance, so if you use your initiative you can try the domain names in searches to see which ones are taken, and guess what the album will be called.

This information in the hands of an honest Tarkan fan will be used an inventive way to find out more about him, in the hands of the wrong person, it could be used for mischief. Unbelievable, but sadly, very true.

So, we as webmasters of Tarkan sites also have a responsibility to him. As we use his image and report news about him, we should do this responsibly. For my part, when I report news about him, I firstly try and verify sources and make sure that it is not information that will harm him. It's a difficult balance, because true fans who only want to be informed about their idol will want to read about up-coming projects.

And, although not wanting to sound too critical, to be quite frank I don't trust the integrity of fans that have downloaded illegal content who now suddenly seem to have woken up to the fact that they were harming Tarkan, even going so far as to send me emails to help campaign to "stop piracy".

I do not get involved in anyone's private life, and I do not preach. It's not for me to tell fans to do what I think is right and not to do what I know is wrong. I can only explain my own actions and the reasons for them. I do not have the right to tell others to follow them, too.

However, if you ask me, I will tell you, and in straight words. But I won't tell others to stop piracy; I can only give my own view on piracy and Tarkan fans. Something, I would like to add, which I did weeks before certain fans suddenly became fired up about the damaging effects of piracy on Tarkan.

In my opinion before fans start asking people to stop piracy maybe they should search through their own CD collection and see how many pirate CDs they have, before they get involved with the collections of others.

I can only control my own CD collection, and I have no pirate CDs. Of course I don't expect foreign fans to have the same protective stance over the Turkish music industry as I do, but I've been buying ONLY original recordings since I started buying music in my young teens, because I saw it as a way to support a Turkish industry I felt passionate about.

Because ultimately, we as fans are the bedrock of a singer's success, but only if we give him or her their due.

If my words bother some people, then I apologise, but they are free to discard them as surely as they are free to read these words and continue downloading illegal content.

But every intelligent individual should know that there is a difference between sharing and stealing, without it being necessary for me to tell them.

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