Recording concerts with a smartphone -- annoying and probably illegal

Recording copyrighted material can be construed as a crime. It's not very polite either

Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Bumbershoot are just some of the big music festivals taking place this summer, so folks can expect to see bands like Vampire Weekend, Fun and rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Even Paul McCartney is making an appearance at one of the shows.

Undoubtedly, a lot of concertgoers will be watching shows through their smartphones, instead of gazing at the stage. This of course is to capture all of the video footage they can.

We've all seen this before: A sea of arms lifted into the air, hoping the latest gadget will document every exciting moment. It seems that some people would rather enjoy the concert at a later time rather than while it's happening.

But is this a bad thing? Some might say it's okay to watch a show through a smartphone.

It allows you to relive the experience again and again; you can share the concert with your friends through social media if you want. And by zooming in, you can get a close look at the stage even if you don't have a good seat.

So the question remains: Are mobile devices and concerts a bad mix? Do they bother other concertgoers who might want to watch the show the traditional way?

Thumbs down

PhotoNew York punk band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs answered this question in a sign they posted at one of their recent concerts:

"Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that ... away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to [band members] Nick, Karen and Brian. Much love and many thanks. Yeah Yeah Yeahs."

The lead singer of the band, Karen O, did give folks a brief time during the show to use their devices, but it's clear the band wanted people to experience their performance the traditional way.

Roger Waters -- former bass player for Pink Floyd -- said using a mobile device to watch a concert is just plain disrespectful.

Photo"I would never turn on a cell phone at any musical event," said Waters in an interview with BBC News. "It would seem to me to show a lack of respect and care for fellow concertgoers or, for that matter, the artist.

"Apart from anything else, how could I possible truly experience the thing I'd paid to see and hear, if I was fiddling with an iPhone, filming or twittering or chatting or whatever?"

Others agree

And it's not just rock musicians who are unhappy about smartphones at concerts. Musicians from other genres are taking a stance too.

Krystian Zimerman, a world renowned pianist from Poland, walked out of one of his shows after catching a person using a smartphone. When Zimerman spotted someone from one of the balcony seats using the device he said: "Would you please stop that?" and walked off the stage shortly after.

Some concert organizers like Anke Demirsoy -- the spokesman for the Ruhr Piano Festival -- are trying to think of new ways to stop people from using mobile devices at concerts. 

"It's hard to catch culprits, because smart phones are so small they can quickly disappear back into bags and it's hard to pick people out in the dark," said Demirsoy in a published interview. "Clearly some people think buying a concert ticket entitles them to the film rights as well."

An app for that

PhotoBut despite how some may feel, a few companies are making apps so people can record concerts easier.

Take SuperGlued, an app that allows you to post photos and share them instantly with other concert goers. Once other people upload their photos to the app, you'll be able to see various angles of the stage.

In addition, the app has a show calendar so you'll know who's coming to town. Plus, you can buy tickets and join contests to win stuff too.

45 Sound is another concert app. The creators ask artists to upload a live recording of their concert, so their music will sound professional. And concert goers are asked to upload all of their video footage as well.

Once the concert ends, the app will have good-sounding audio of the concert and footage from every angle, so users can get a fuller experience.

Inevitable and illegal?

So as the summer concert season rolls around, you'll most likely see a bunch of smartphones in the air, plus a few people who would rather watch their favorite artist the traditional way.

If you do decide to record a show, try to do it without inconveniencing other consumers, who have paid good money to be there. Remember, it's easy to block someone's view, crowd their space or just be plain annoying when you're trying to capture that perfect shot.

It's also worth noting that you're on shaky legal ground when you record a live music performance. The material is copyrighted and making an authorized recording can be construed as a federal crime. 

You -- or your very expensive lawyer -- could argue that as long as the recording is only for your own personal use it's OK but do you really want to go through that?

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