Hi, my name is Skyler and I’m a music pirate addict.

I’m kinda nervous to be here to be honest. I heard about this group from my old friend Ronnie who’s also a recovering addict — actually come to think of it, just yesterday Ronnie called me all giggidy with some great news while I was mid-shift at the hospital (I’m a year into my residency). He said he had just bought, with money, like real dollars, his first song in over 10 years. Big deal, I know, and I was super excited for Ronnie and while I probably shouldn’t have picked up the phone while inserting my first-ever IV drip, I was so super happy for Ronnie like I said, and couldn’t help myself — and a blood transfusion later, Ms. Henderson was conscious again, so no biggie. Claps for Ronnie!

Anyway, I think I’m supposed to tell my own story about how I got here so here goes. It all started back in junior high school, when exchanging iTunes libraries was as ordinary as dying of dysentery in Oregon Trail™. All you did was hand over your iPod to that friend-with-great-music-taste for the night and the next day you had a thousand new songs — no cost to you, no cost to your friend. So amazing! Soon enough, I had stockpiled a library 5,000 songs strong, of which maybe 200 were originally mine, of which all were from my father’s embarrassing CD collection, of which contained the soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, of which I know every fucking word …

But there was also all the music I wanted but could never actually ask my friends for because that would be like, straight social suicide. Like omg, if Ronnie knew I owned all six Kelly Clarkson albums, or that I not only own but have memorized the tracklists for Now 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 — just kill me. So I did the sensible thing and downloaded LimeWire, which I’m sure you all know about because anyone who’s an addict knows about LimeWire, a service that fostered illegal downloading.

Life on LimeWire was mojitos on the beach, but like forever. I could download virtually any song I desired — Sheryl Crow’s whole discography, the “Pokémon” theme song, you name it! — and all for free. It quickly progressed from a weekly thing to the point where I was downloading almost constantly, I’m talking a few times a day. And when LimeWire didn’t have what I wanted, I tried Napster, Ka-zaa, Gnutella, whatever might get me the song I was craving. I will say I bought an external hard drive for my 20,000-song library, so I didn’t completely steal everything if you think about it philosophically or whatever. Also, I once went into a record store and bought a poster of the Dark Side of the Moon album cover because it’s my favorite (I have Pink Floyd’s whole discography), so that counts too I think.

Those were the days, before all the bullshit government regulation that made stealing music less convenient. Then Big Brother cracked down on Napster, LimeWire, Ka-zaa, all the peer-to-peer file sharing services, and ruined my fun. So I, being the innovative person I am, discovered BitTorrent, pirate-bay.org and other sites like it, which made it possible to steal movies and soft-ware too!

But then Jammie Thomas-Rasset happened — you know, the woman who got sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for $220,000 ($54,000 for each of the 24 songs she downloaded illegally). When Ronnie told me about the suit, and the 18,000 others filed by the RIAA against similar individuals, I pissed my pants, changed into a fresh pair, did some back-of-the-napkin math that concluded my own suit would add up to $1 billion and change, and then pissed my pants again … (Do you know how much debt med students have already?!?)

That was a few days ago, and I’m fucking scared, guys. I got my Locs on and keep the oven on now in case the FBI shows up so I can destroy my hard-drive. I’ve been trying to lay low, get this addiction under control, but dependence is real. Like last night, I downloaded every song by Beethoven and Mozart just because I can. I know it’s wrong, but it’s just so easy. I’m not a bad person guys, I just want to be a gynecologist.

This is a work of fiction. Yardain can be reached at amron@umich.edu

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