Lily Allen's anti-piracy rant has made her notorious among copyfighters, who have subjected her site and her words to close scrutiny, discovering that Allen's website is chock-a-block with infringing scans of newspaper articles, infringing mix-tapes (even the rant she posted was lifted from Techdirt). Her all-caps responses ("I THINK ITS QUITE OVIOUS THAT I WASNT TRYING TO PASS OF THOSE WORDS AS MY OWN , HERE IS A LINK TO THE WEBSIITE I ACQUIRED THE PIECE FROM.") are the kind of nutty, defensive shouty words that chum the water online.
It's tempting to count coup here and write Allen off as a hypocrite, but there's a more important story here. Allen just hasn't thought this through. Copyright is problematic for everyone: musicians, fans, bloggers. The absence of clear affirmative rights to make personal copies, to share with your friends, to copy for the purposes of discussion and commentary (as opposed to the fuzzy and difficult-to-interpret fair use guidelines, which have been further confused by the entertainment industry's bold attempts to convince us all that they don't matter and can't be relied upon) means that we're all in a state of constant infringement.
A law that no one understands and no one abides by is no law at all. Parts of copyright — the right to regulate how commercial licenses with industrial entities work — are really important to me and to all working artists. But if we continue to try to expand copyright to cover everything, every interaction that involves a copy (which is every interaction these days), then the broad consensus that copyright is nonsense will continue to grow, and we'll lose the good stuff as well as the ridiculous stuff.
For the record, I am a small-time Lily Allen fan, and I bought her latest CD after hearing it for free, when a friend emailed me some tracks. If Ms Allen would prefer, I can stop buying and listening to her music, given that I discovered it through "piracy."
Also, this is not the only infringement on her blog. While she's trying to point out how much damage 'pirates' do to the music industry she blatantly infringed the copyrights of a number of newspapers by posting scanned articles.
To make things even more absurd Techdirt discovered that Lily is pirating music herself by offering some unauthorized mixtapes (tape 1 and tape 2) on her website LilyAllenMusic.com. The tracklist of one of the mixtapes reveals a list of no less than 19 unauthorized tracks. This means the RIAA can easily sue her for millions.