Home Taping Is Killing Music

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Home Taping Is Killing Music‘ was the slogan of a 1980s anti-copyright infringement campaign by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a British music industry trade group. With the rise in cassette recorder popularity, the BPI feared that people being able to record music from the radio onto cassettes would cause a decline in record sales. The logo, consisting of a Jolly Roger formed from the silhouette of a Compact Cassette, also included the words ‘And It’s Illegal.’¬†Similar rhetoric has continued; in 1982 Jack Valenti famously compared the VCR and its anticipated effect on the movie industry to the Boston Strangler, and in 2005 Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA claimed that CD burning is hurting music sales.

The slogan was often parodied, one example being the addendum ‘and it’s about time too!,’ used by Dutch anarcho-punk band The Ex. Another example was the early 1980s counter-slogan ‘Home Taping is Skill in Music,’ referring to early mixtapes, a precursor to sampling and remixes. In 1981 the Dead Kennedys printed ‘Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help’ on one side of their EP ‘In God We Trust, Inc.’ An early ‘proponent’ of home taping was Malcolm McLaren who was at the time managing the British band Bow Wow Wow. In 1980 the band released their single ‘C30, C60, C90 Go’ on a cassette that featured a blank other side that the buyer could record their own music on. The band’s record label, EMI, dropped the group shortly afterwards because the single allegedly promoted home taping.

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