Elvis Costello-8Perhaps it’s a sign of how the digitization of media has changed the marketplace that its misuse can be interjected into a complaint over the pricing of traditional media—and misinterpreted.

A complaint by Elvis Costello that his record company is pricing his new album too high has been interpreted by BoingBoing and Techdirt to mean he thinks fans should pirate the album. However, the evidence on the site suggests this interpretation is not quite accurate.

On the 18th, Costello posted an entry to his blog entitled “Steal This Record.” decrying the price of over $200 for his next album, released in a package that includes only one CD, one DVD, and one vinyl EP record, along with a coffee table book and a few other tzotzkes. After fruitlessly trying to get the price reduced, Costello suggests that fans looking to buy a Christmas gift should instead spend $150 on a Louis Armstrong collection.

If on the other hand you should still want to hear and view the component parts of the above mentioned elaborate hoax, then those items will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means.

Note that the post’s subject line is a reference to Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book—Costello doesn’t tell people in the post itself that they should download the album. He does acknowledge that it happens, but that’s not the same thing.

Perhaps as a result of someone pointing out this misinterpretation was possible, Costello made another post the next day, entitled “Let’s make things sparkling clear” which recycled the last half of the previous post but changed the above paragraph to:

If you should still want the component items in the above mentioned elaborate hoax, they will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, unless you are one of those pirates who imagines they are evangelists or that other people’s rights absolve their own thievery, in which case this is between you and your dim conscience.

Which makes it a little weird that BoingBoing and Techdirt posted their interpretations a week and a half later, with no reference to the second post. Perhaps they were linked to the first post by some other source, and didn’t look any further on Costello’s site to discover the other one. It seems as though Costello might have erred by leaving the first post up and unchanged without any obvious update pointing to the second one.

Regardless, it’s certainly not the first time someone has posted to the Internet and been…misunderstood.


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