Braindead MP3 buying restrictions

As you may know, I live in St. Kitts. St. Kitts is a nice island in the Caribbean, part of the two-island Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis. The two islands have a population of about 40,000 and have their own government, their own seat in the UN, and so forth.

St. Kitts & Nevis also happens to have no really enforced copyright law.

There's a store downtown which sells pretty much any movie you can think of for about USD 7. All bootlegged, poor quality, pirated copies. If they don't have a copy pre-manufactured in the store, they'll burn it on a CD for you if you return in 20 minutes.

I don't buy movies this way. I prefer high-quality copies, and I don't mind shelling out what's basically the price of two movie tickets to have it on a proper DVD. I also like to know that I'm contributing towards production of future movies, not just some guy who purchased a device that can copy a CD.

For similar reasons, I prefer to buy my MP3 music from legitimate copyright holders. I'm not sure there's any law in St. Kitts that would make it illegal for me to go online and download pirated music for free. Even if there is such a law, almost certainly no one enforces it.

But I hate stealing intellectual property. I believe in contributing for stuff that I enjoy. So until recently, I liked to buy my MP3s on Amazon, for the (for me) reasonable price of $1 per track.

It seems this era is now coming to an end.

First, Amazon was verifying my shipping address. It had to be in the US for me to be able to purchase and download an MP3. Okay, so I use a shipping address in the US.

Then, they introduced IP address checking. Okay, so instead of connecting directly, I connect through a proxy in the US.

Now, apparently, they introduced credit card checking. My credit card, unfortunately - or fortunately, for other reasons - is not in the US. And there's not much I can do about this.

Even though I'm right now sitting in a hotel in Las Vegas, I am therefore unable to buy an MP3 on Amazon. They won't sell it to a customer with a credit card outside the United States.

It is braindead - though I understand the reasoning for it. Copyright for the same song might not be held by the same person in every country. The revenue may need to go to different people, depending on the country it's used in. And there may be other legal restrictions.

But still, that doesn't change the fact that it's braindead. As a resident of St. Kitts, I now have no other choice than to download bootlegged copies of my music - even though I want to pay for it.


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