Don't Download This Song

Album: Straight Outta Lynwood (2006)
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Songfacts®:

  • Sung in the style of '80s charity anthems like "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and "We Are The World," this track parodies the controversy surrounding peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms like Napster and Kazaa that were under fire for copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America.

    "That was in the midst of all the controversy about the RIAA really getting down on all the peer-to-peer sharers, and all the big lawsuits where they were suing grandmothers, and it was on the news," Yankovic told AV Club in 2011. "I wanted to write a song that occupied a grey area, where you wouldn't really know whether I was coming down on the side of the downloaders or the side of the RIAA. The whole thing was very tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic and ironic, and you walk away without really knowing what my viewpoint is, which is all by design.

    To further compound the irony, we gave that song away as a free download on my website. That was just one of those kinds of songs where I was amused by the conceit of doing a sort of a big overblown, fully produced, kind of '80s charity anthem about the RIAA as if they were these starving children."
  • This is the first single from Straight Outta Lynwood, Yankovic's 12th studio album, that's better known for the Chamillionaire parody "White And Nerdy."
  • In the music video, animated by Bill Plympton, a boy imagines what would happen if he burned a CD on his computer. After he's tried and sentenced to death, he escapes execution only to die in an explosion atop a tower (a reference to James Cagney's similar demise in the 1949 gangster film White Heat). His morbid fantasy scares him straight and he decides to play his guitar instead of illegally downloading any tunes.
  • The lyrics warn against messing with the RIAA, who will sue anyone for piracy, even "if you're a grandma or a seven year old girl." The line was based on real-life lawsuits involving Gertrude Walton, an elderly woman who was already dead for six months by the time the RIAA sued her, and a 10-year-old girl who was sued for copyright infringements she incurred at age 7.
  • Yankovic also references Lars Ulrich ("Don't download this song, even Lars Ulrich knows it's wrong"), the Metallica drummer who spoke out against Napster around the time the band sued the company for copyright infringement and racketeering.
  • Yankovic says you shouldn't download this song or else you'll end up like Tommy Chong. The Cheech & Chong actor went to prison on drug charges in 2003. In 2006, the same year Straight Outta Lynwood came out, Chong published a memoir about his experiences in prison.

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