The Beatles Back in the USSR

I caught up with the passionate Eye on CBC Newsworld the other night. The feature for the evening was “How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin”, the story of the effect of the Beatles on Cold war-era Russia. The songs were first smuggled in by recording broadcasts from Radio Luxembourg using cannibalized X-ray prints as records. The bootlegs turned out to be one of the factors in inspiring the movements that eventually toppled the iron curtain.

This got me to thinking. There is now an entire generation of a civilization that owes their political freedom to piracy. The music and movies that they copied gave them the chance to dream of the better life that they now have. The oppressed peoples of the world may continue wrest control of their own destinies this way in Iran, Burma, Zimbabwe, and even North Korea. Russia and other former communist countries still have music industries despite this prevailing attitude against copyright. It looks like the battle to label piracy as theft may already be lost.

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