Composer Jason Robert Brown is flattered when young singers like his work, but wishes they wouldn’t pirate his sheet music:

I signed on to the website that is most offensive to me, got an account, and typed my name into the Search box. I got 4,000 hits. Four thousand copies of my music were being offered for “trade.” (I put “trade” in quotes because of course it’s not really a trade, since nobody’s giving anything up in exchange for what they get. It’s just making illegal unauthorized copies, and calling it “trade” legitimizes it in an utterly fraudulent way.) I clicked on the most recent addition, and I sent the user who was offering that music an email. This is what I wrote:

Hey there! Can I get you to stop trading my stuff? It’s totally not cool with me. Write me if you have any questions, I’m happy to talk to you about this.

Thanks, J.

Nothing too formal or threatening, just a casual sort of suggestion.

His back-and-forth email exchanges with a young fan (Brenna/Eleanor) make for a great discussion on how different copyright looks to different generations and needs. To Brenna, it’s unfair and unrealistic to insist she pay. To Brown, it’s common sense: of course you pay for the things you take.

Brown’s blog post is a few months old, but I hadn’t seen it until it was featured in the latest issue of the The Dramatist.

Also worth a look: a handy guide to the most common rationalizations for copying.