Quoth the Pirate
March 2, 2009 2:03 PM   Subscribe

[Discography filter] How do I cite a pirated CD?

I do research in an area where 90% of available music is pirated. In fact, most musical groups depend on piracy for maximum exposure. Regardless of your opinion on the matter of piracy, I am wondering what is the best way to cite a pirated CD in a discography. I cite lyrics from some songs that are only available on pirated format. I can guesstimate the year the pirated CD was "released" (turnover is pretty high), but the titles of the discs are super generic (such as "Best Hits Ever" and the like). Is there an appropriate way to do this? Or do I just keep it to footnotes and explain the sort of non-origin of the CD? (And of course, it may be irrelevant, but I'm using a format similar to APA.)
posted by cachondeo45 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just to clarify for people that have better answers than me: You're not citing an unauthorized repressing of a canon CD, you're citing an unauthorized concernt recording or unofficial compilation, right?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:22 PM on March 2, 2009

Best answer: Good question. My first impulse would be to treat the recording like you would other informal music-making that you describe in your ethnography. So instead of citing it, describe everything you can about its origins and the general time and place of its circulation in the text, or in a foot- or endnote, rather than using a tight citation format.
posted by umbĂș at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2009

Are you talking about bootlegged recordings? I could understand using the term pirated in this context, but for the most part it means something a little different.
posted by niles at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2009

Are you talking about bootlegged recordings? I could understand using the term pirated in this context, but for the most part it means something a little different.

That's true, and it's an important distinction in general, but I'm not sure it's relevant to this question. The issue here isn't the legality of the recordings. It's just that, being unofficial, they don't come with label information and catalog numbers and so on that will let the OP identify them in the standard way in a bibliography. That'll be true whether they're totally legal (e.g. Grateful Dead concert bootlegs), totally illegal (e.g. DJ mixes or mashups with lots of uncleared samples) or someplace in between.

As for how to cite them, I wonder if the fanbase for this music has a standard way of talking about these recordings. I mean, it doesn't sound like you're talking about the Dead, but to use them as a convenient example, there's a pretty standard way of referring to shows, writing down setlists, etc. in that community. If the recordings you're working on have attracted even a small community of collectors, they've probably got similar conventions, and it would make sense to follow those rather than reinvent the wheel.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:51 PM on March 2, 2009

Response by poster: Oh shoot, sorry, I've been away from the interwebs for a while. Nope, not bootlegged. Pirated compilations of previously released material. Well, there are some bootlegs, too, but there are a bulk of recordings that were burned from other recordings. And when I say previously released, normally these groups record and then give away recordings at the door at a particular event. And there is no particular community of collectors, either. It's off the street, and it's in South America, if that's a help at all.

(Sidenote: Umbu, I should have asked you in the first place!)
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:26 PM on March 2, 2009

Best answer: Citation has two purposes: (1) to acknowledge prior scholastic effort; (2) to assist other scholars to find the original material for themselves, so that they may examine it and come to their own conclusions.

In this case, the scholastic effort is yours, and finding the original material is going to be next to impossible unless there's a torrent for that particular CD, which is very unlikely. Umbu's right, but depending on how much you depend on the CD in your article, it may be worth also adding a directory/track listing of the CD to an appendix.

It might be worth putting the CD into a computer with a program that automatically checks Gracenote or whatever the latest implementation of that is, just to check if it is actually a pirate copy of a published CD, rather than an original compilation. I think there are even programs like that, that can identify MP3 files that have been mislabeled or not labeled at all.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:32 PM on March 2, 2009

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