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Napster

An Exchange

Excerpts from a Napster-related exchange on TEoF. (TEoF is the Symphony X mailing list). Note that the italicized portions were written by various subscribers on the list.

Jens, how do you feel about MP3's? And Napster?

Short answer:

a) it depends on the bit rate, it's a grey area but I'd consider more than 64 kbps and more than a couple of songs from a record bad.

b) Napster is Just Another Corporation, worse than the bloodsucking leeches in the music industry — more like a really stupid bloodsucking leech. Napster sucks elephant dick, I really hope they fry in the hell they call the US legal system. (And I don't like the buggy Napster trojan^h^h^h^h^hclient, and how it searches your hard drive for files even if tell it not to, etc). They deserve everything that will happen to them. And that goes for MyMP3.com as well.. nobody would fail to understand the issues if it was kiddie porn that was traded.

c) other than that, MP3 is a great standardized file format for distributing music, with accurate and fast decoders for almost every kind of hardware. Of course.

d) Big Labels are caught with their pants down. I find that a little humorous, but not as funny as the fact that Lars of all people, the happy and one-time endeably unabashed drunkard (and fellow Sjöwall-Wahlöö fan) I drank with many times has to be the guy pointing out the obvious to a multimillion-dollar industry. Way to go!!!

Long answer: Ahem, as a professional musician whose livelihood somewhat depends on sales of music media, the inevitable trend toward increasing "home consumer" internet bandwidth has been something that has worried me for many years now... and I'm sure 5 years from now we will all have megabit per second connections and the "CD retail chain" as we know it will be a lot less relevant. (And with 24/7 high b/w connections already quite common, there will be a lot of talk about computer security in the next few years, mark my words. Really.) I think what Metallica are doing is brilliant and necessary.

Artists get fucked enough anyway. The music industry is notorious. But as bad as the record companies of today are, they don't give the stuff away for free to create nebulous values like "brand recognition" and "market position"... like many dot-com upstarts do. But unlike Napster, at least most of the idiotic internet startups depend on losing buckets of their hapless investors' money on stuff that they bought and paid for!! Other than that rant.. (which is the only possible conclusion for a person with a brain: The Napster corporation should be fucked back with a hot poker into the hole they came from and aborted):

Most of the music I'm interested in is low-volume ("niche") stuff. It might not be made in the future, because there's not enough incentive. Sad and perhaps inevitable.

Someone stealing a dollar of Scott Henderson's royalties, for instance, obviously is not going to make much of a difference for him. Sadly most people don't think about that if 30000 people do the same it might have a real impact on what music gets made and doesn't get made. Even more sadly, the 3000000 that desire Boyzone downloads and are the driving force opposing Metallica and RIAA could give a fuck about Scott Henderson or his music. The most important issue to me are not the Metallicas, rather the Hendersons.

For instance, maybe in 20 years people will be looking back to the "glory years" (1990s) of progressive metal, because there will be little incentive to produce that complicated music.

I'm sure the laws will stand as they are written today, or become even tougher. Maybe in the future you can only depend on copyright protection if you are affiliated with a really big company that only cares about and goes after big-time infringements (think millions of downloads of Britney Spears-style music.) Then God help interesting music.. well at least there'll be plenty of MP3's from the late 20th century floating around. (Hey! Perhaps I'll be one of those living legends!! Maybe that could help me and Scott H. get a gig down in the subway!)

I agree with you Partially there too. Napster is just another corporation. However, in my mind, [the lawsuit] is not about Napster at all. They are just a vehicle. Take the larger view, and see ... private FTP's ... , the MP3 chat channels on IRC, the Newsgroups, the direct transfers between friends via ICQ and e-mail. What about those?

To me, they are not part of the issue. The lawsuit (which I, like I said, support) is specifically against the Napster corporation.

Jens, do you really think the majority of us WON'T do the right thing and buy the CD...?

I have no problem with "you"! It's the 6 billion idiots out there who will have high bandwidth net connections within the next 20 years that I'm worried about.

Lemme put this another way. About three years ago, I bought a judas priest tribute CD, and as I was making my way through the listening, I stumbled across a cover of the song 'Bloodstone' by an (to me) unknown band called 'Stratovarius'. I was really impressed by the way the song was done, and determined that I needed to do more research. I went to the newsgroups and searched by 'stratovarius' until I stumbled across a little tune called 'Kiss of Judas'. Needless to say, I ordered my first Strato CD the very same day, and I have been a strato fan ever since. Likewise, my discoveries of Royal Hunt, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Iced Earth, Treasure Land, All Too Human, a HOST of others, including a noisy little bunch of geniuses out of New Jersey calling themselves SYMPHONY X.

A very good point. But let's look at it from another angle.

An independent band like Symphony X are heavily dependent on CD sales.

Picture these guys at a point in time ten - fifteen years ago, making career decisions. How much time to devote to insane practicing, how much time to devote to composing, how much time to devote to dissect John Williams scores, how much time to devote to getting and holding a boring day job.

If it was clear at that point that high-quality copies of anything they would ever create might be distributed completely for free, how do you think that would have affected these decisions?

What do you think all this will mean for the would-be Symphony-X'es of year 2020?

What about the Symphony X's of the world tho'? How will I ever know if I want to support a band, if I can't hear their music?

Hopefully through: listening to a couple of songs worth of 64 kbps MP3 files.....

If you know of a better way, then please, TELL ME about it!

There is no better way presently. All I know is that as bad as MP3 sharing could get in the future, a Napster type for-profit scheme is totally over the top and must be stopped before it's too late.

The ideal to me would be that low-bitrate files would serve all those purposes of "pre-listening checking out".. (but I think that most people are too greedy to regulate this type of behavior themselves.)

Then there could still be a value attached to the "full" versions (16 bit/44 kHz uncompressed, cover art, video, extras like posters, etc).

Perhaps records can be marketed online as well if there emerges some sort of protected format (unlikely) or watermarking (also unlikely that this will ever work).

So it's difficult to say what will happen!

I think just the opposite is true. I think that BECAUSE of the internet, these artists will continue to survive, if they use it properly. I could be wrong, but I don't have any better plan right now.

Perhaps. We shall see!!

My theory was always that niche music would be harder to locate online and thus would have some protection. But then again I never envisioned anything as horrendous as Napster (a full database of files residing on millions of networked computers).

Nevertheless, I still believe that Napster (and the TEoF FTP) do the Scott Hendersons AND the Jens Johanssons of this world a lot more favors than harm.

Napster and the TEoF FTP server are wildly different in concept.

The TEoF FTP is non-profit, has a responsible operator that holds uploaders/downloaders accountable, and as I understand it was from the beginning conceptualized as a tool for evangelizing about this type of music.

Napster is a venture-capital funded corporation with a bottom line, with no oversight whatsoever regarding the legality of the files that are exchanged, and was from the beginning conceptualized as a service that enables people to share MP3's without any regard to whether they have the right to do so. Moreover, they accept all types of music in order to attract "hits" and registered users. (One problem then is that it's just as easy to copy a Boyzone song as it is to copy a Meshuggah song..)

What is a wonder to me is that they didn't get sued sooner. And like I said, even more of a wonder to me is Lars' involvement. Very surreal!!!

Another exchange

Excerpts from a Napster-related exchange on the "Ytsejam" list (it's the Dream Theater list but has extremely low signal-to-noise ratio, mainly caused by Swedes wired on coffee posting missives about copyright law) Note that the italicized portions were written by various subscribers on the list.

So here is a shining example where Napster has generated revenue for the RIAA pricks. Revenue otherwise lost... Incidentally, myself and the other two recipients of the illegal home-brew CDs, had possession of the commercial US version within five minutes of the LEGAL release time! Those arrogant RIAA pricks should realize that people will pay for QUALITY entertainment.

FWIW I think Napster should be shut down. (Perhaps ranted here before, don't remember)

Were I a bit less thoughtful I could state: "Those arrogant thieves of intellectual property should realize they are stealing the bread out of the mouths of musicians". But I think the issue is complex and requires a nuanced approach. All I know is that the "Napster way" is not a good one. ("Napster way" defined in my mind as: third party uses public database of local copies of infringing material — essentially to attract site hits.) I for one hope the US courts will speak clearly in favor of copyright. I say this not as some 19-year old copyleft freak who probably never even heard of Stallman, but as a wizened veteran of this thing called "the music industry", and I feel I have a fairly accurate picture of the nature of that beast (and two cauliflower ears to prove it, figuratively speaking), of the history of copyright law, and of music comsumers in general. And I am a bit worried.

Especially people who are interested in "narrower" music should be concerned about the threat of erosion of musical intellectual property rights.

Not that anyone cares probably. Sigh. (Hey, the economy is booming! Money is way overrated in this glorious economy. Here's the bag of money, here's the shovel, there's the furnace. Get to work!! We need those eyeballs on our site! And let's get William Shatner to do some ads with jokes about Mozart dying in poverty while we're at it.)

Maybe the RIAA has a legitimate bitch. I can't see the average "Pink" fan giving a fuck about sound quality... And it's all about money, right?

Yes. All about money. That is essentially correct.

...[Y]ou can bet that the venture capitalists backing Napster right now are definitely shooting for some kind of pay-for-download scheme to turn this into a cash cow.

If they even are that farsighted. But make no mistake about it: they are not doing this as an altruistic service for mankind out of the goodness of their hearts.

[...partially snipped typical story] So now, Stratovarius always has a few CDs on an end-cap at the Musicland (now Sam Goody) in Ames Iowa. Jared and I have both bought every CD you guys have, and he figures he's probably sold another couple hundred more off the endcap and by word of mouth. All because of that mean ol' Napster.

It is a good argument, and one I have heard before. It is also similar to the argument that record companies sometimes make in regard to licensing with lower or no royalties (for instance: music clubs where the consumer can order the first 3 CDs for a dollar or something)

Nonetheless it does not convince me. From my point of view (and I say this with not an ounce of disrespect), which is as a somewhat perceptive person with 15 years in the battlefield at the "shit end of the stick", the issue is completely clear. And it's more of a long term issue than a few thousand Strato CDs (maybe I didn't make that clear).

I'm not implying that Napster proponents are not intelligent, alert and observant but there is something that I see here that you just don't see, call it a pattern, a hunch, an abstract idea. There's nothing really I can do about that. I can just hope that the Napster, inc. court case goes the way I think it should. Of course, if it doesn't, it doesn't. I'll just move on.

Oh, and thanks for the free promo work.

I understand this isn't always the case, but when the RIAA themselves, using numbers that they've compiled, say that CD sales and profits have improved every year since things like MP3s and Napster came along, I just can't feel sorry for them.

Have they published any statistics about the cause of this aggregate sales increase? Correlation does not imply causation. Do the statistics perhaps have anything to do with the current economic boom, rather than that braindead Napster entity, or with bandwidth trends?

I would guess that more money in CD sales means more money for the artists, so I can't feel sorry for them either.

Correct. (And it means money for your friend Jared — his store actually gets more money per CD than the manufacturer, the songwriters, and the performers combined. He's the guy that really should be worried.)

I have about 20 gig of MP3s on my server at home. I would guess that all but about 2 gig are things that I legally own. Not everyone is out to steal music and put musicians out of work.

No, this is true. Not everyone.

To me, at the core of the Napster debate is the question whether copyright is a good or bad thing. If you're honest and not in opposition of copyright, this may seem very much like a straw man argument. But I take a somewhat dim view of people's honesty and willingness to part with money for intangible property if not forced to. (People IN GENERAL, OK? So, present company excluded then, hopefully?)

If music copyright is eroded in any way you can be sure that in the end, any loss of revenue will be passed on in the usual fashion — to the performers and writers. To me that is completely clear, and moreover not good. I know it's not "clear and not good" to a lot of people — they either:

a) don't know what the hell I'm talking about ("copyright err I guess that's what it usually says after that little c with the ring around it"),

b) disagree fundamentally ("copyright is outdated, information wants to be free, look how well open source is working")

c) think CD prices are too high — and feel that their personal opinion about CD prices / the RIAA / the current distribution chain / the majors / Lars Ulrich should be what decides what (if any) the copyright for music should be.

Well. I've made 40-something records; I've been picked up, dropped and fondled by independent and major alike. I've been chewed up and spit out, hit the ground running, waiting for the next fight to start. I've roadied and schlepped, punched in and spliced, negotiated, hurried up and waited, promoted, and even had time to make some music in between; I've been praised, censored, deified, interviewed, filmed, flown and helicoptered, rescheduled, blown up by pyro, chastised, broadcast, bootlegged, hounded, glorified, demonized and exploited. Anyone else here ever show up at different city than your back line truck? You, over there, the whippersnapper in the green sweater with a decaf latte and a fresh printout of the GNU manifesto: what's the statutory mechanical rate in the US as of today? Can you tell me why? And how many airports have you been hung over in, exactly?

Anyway, I'm willing to listen if anyone can come up with a good argument explaining why "Napster is good" — BUT — in order to convince ME, such an argument might have to contain the following words and phrases:

Patrons and court composers, piano rolls, the 1905 copyright act, statutory licensing, patent law, 1976, NMPA, in-home bandwidth growth projections considering the differing data density in video and audio carriers and the much-heralded "Net/TV convergence", historical public apathy in regards to — and erosion of — copyrights, the meaning of the term "intellectual property", Mozart, bootlegging, vinyl versus acrylate, history of payola and fraud, niche music, pricing collusion and distribution cartels, work for hire, broadcast rights, home taping tax, SCMS, the Japanese CD distribution model, black holes, supersymmetry, the riddle of symbolic language, public key cryptography, Bell's theorem, the Aspect experiment, and the core nature of information from a quantum mechanical perspective.

OK, maybe the last seven can be skipped..

[And the exchange continued...]

[Me (muttering): "Wow, I would never have thought that they could build ships this big! Fucking great food too, it seems. Yum. Hmm, wonder if there are any icebergs at this time of year and at the latitudes at which we will be crossing the North Atlantic?"

People in the crowd: "Such a splendid day, sunny weather just three minutes out of port. This lobster thermidor is exquisitely prepared! Just perfect! And holy guacamole, look at that magnificent grand stairway!!"]

Let's forget the issue of artists losing money for a minute,

OK, but only if it's for a minute.

However, with that said, I gotta be frank that I am somewhat of a believer in free distribution (sorry Jens). The idea of free distribution has always been around,

Correct. Until the last 100 years or so there was no firm copyright.

but what Napster hit upon, imo, is not volume, but CONVENIENCE. I can go on Napster and within a few minutes find a song that would have taken me hours, or even days, to find by any other method.

How splendidly convenient for you!

(<sam kinison mode>And how many hours, or days, did that piece of music take to fucking.. COMPOOOOOSE AND RECOOOOOOOORD? OWW! OWWWWWW!!</sam kinison mode>

I'd be interested in knowing exactly what the royalty issues are in that case. I realize the above is no justification, but I am attempting to illustrate the idea that Napster, or free distribution in general, is not a large threat.

The royalty issues are clear. Copying a track is a violation of copyright law. But a single act of copying is not a huge violation. Therein lies the rub. Each single infringing act is fairly innocent. Copying one track of, say, one of Yngwie's 80's Polygram releases deprives him of, say, $US 15 x 0.10 x 0.8 / 10 = 0.12 . And a little bit of money because he might also be the composer. Stealing 12 cents from someone is obviously not going to put anyone like Yngwie in the poorhouse. It's the aggregate effect that's very dangerous — if the music copyright is eroded in the future due to services like Napster there's less incentive to make recordings in the future.

What Napster does is make niche music more accessible, so that more niche users than ever before can discover the same music (in the past it may have been confined only to certain areas).

True. But wouldn't it be preferable if the copyright owners, instead of Napster inc., get to decide how their music will be available? At which bit rates? Which tracks? Where? Together with what advertising? No?

If anyone here can give me proof that they understand in some detail what happened in regards to broadcast rights the last century (in which, as we all know, radio was invented) and illuminate how this helped (or, ahem, was it perhaps... noo.. it couldn't have been....... hurt!??!) niche music I'll be willing to take up the argument from that point on. I'm getting cobol fingers from all this typing.. :\

OK so I have a dim, cynical view of copyright consumers' willingness to part with their cash. Just keep that in mind too.

One thing I have noticed, though, especially after working as a "residential computer consultant" for my dormitory last year and working directly with students, is that most of the college students I worked with didn't give a shit as to whether they paid for their music. At ALL. And most of them told me so in as many words.

Such a shock to me. I'm soooo surprised.

As a future commercial musician and composer, I am deeply worried about the current trend in attitudes toward copyright holders and the disregard that is shown to them.

Right. In today's situation, musicians and composers are a lot more powerless and vulnerable than owners of other types of copyrights. (Future bandwidth / ease of copying / low data volume of audio carriers / public opinion / radio broadcast paradigm prevalent)

The thing I never understood about this argument is that CDs DON'T cost too much. Just because it costs 2 cents to make a CD doesn't mean that you should only pay that much.

Maybe something like 12 US cents per song would work....

Right there, without sales tax you've got a total of ten dollars for a CD. Obviously my figures are not correct and are just an estimate of how I interpret the way the business works, which is probably way off.

No, that was fairly accurate. Of course agreements vary widely as well...

[regarding "And how many airports have you been hung over in, exactly?"] Jens, I'm going to offer you a chance to re-word yourself because you're not a native English-speaker, right? Did you really mean "hung over" or did you mean "held over?" :D

I actually did mean to type "hung over in airports". Held over in airports!?!?! That must include 30% of the Earth's population by now! What authority to opine about copyright law would being held over in a bunch of distinct airports confer, exactly!?!?

Especially that rarest bird of hangovers which my Finnish friends refer to as the "mandoliini krapula" in the horrid, humid halls of Barajas (Madrid) Airport carry a lot of weight in the courts, I've heard.

And here's a little food for thought, people: Do you realize that Mozart's Requiem (by the way, you can download a performance of my choir singing the Mozart Requiem last April — with me singing the bass solo — at http://cout.dhs.org/mozart_requiem/) was commissioned by a nobleman who then took the completed work (which was completed by Mozart's student, Sussmayr, after Mozart's death left it unfinished) and performed it for his wife's memorial service as his OWN work?

Maybe even according to that time's laws, it _was_ his work. "Moral rights" weren't codified in any fashion, either...

Napster solution...$10/month for subscriptions...legit cut goes to artists...with 50million+ subscribers...even if half drop after the fees are applied, that's still a crap-load of money...and it's advertising potential for artists and record labels.

For some of us (= niche musicians), a flat fee would be unacceptable. So that scheme for instance would have to have some sort of hard "opt-out." I would imagine very many copyright owners would opt and thus make the service useless.

You guys may well do that. I believe you. But you are TOTALLY the minority... I bet less than 5% of Napster users buy 80% of what they DL.

I would bet something like 500 Argentinian Pesos that this fraction is lower than 1%.

People who subsist by means of exchanging money for food and shelter tend not to believe so much in free distribution, since your belief requires them to take advantage of the distribution of food at a soup kitchen or applications at the McDonalds kitchen. If you're a programmer by trade, what if your company decided to take your stock away, and not pay you for services rendered, because they decide it's time for you to freely distribute the goods and services they want. Oh, then it's wrong.

Could not have expressed this any better myself.

I mean, you just take the money that you have for being a musician (which is, I can tell you, because I think I know, A LOT) and go on one of those WORLD TOURS on your bus. Maybe you even wreck a hotel room.

Yeah, being a musician is amazing. At every airport there's a guy with a bucket just pouring money over your head. And like you said: the hotels! Holy shit. Well, they don't pay cash, but every time you wreck a hotel room, the check for the wrecked room comes in the mail later. It never fails!

By my admittedly selfish and hyppocritical definition: yep It's when money is exchanged during all of this that I have a problem. I guess I just don't see it as theft, and never will. But I do have a problem when money is involved

Let's just get rid of all property then. It sure worked in the Soviet Union!

Okay, one more round and I'll let whoever wants to get the last word. Chris, I've met you, you're an intelligent guy and I do value your opinion. I'm not a musician so I will never be able to see your and Jens' side. I do however work at a company that writes software, so I do understand the correlation between people paying for software and me being about to buy food and shelter.

So I guess you don't have to be a musician, then.

If matters at all, I can definitely see the other side of the argument. I just think that there is a better solution than killing Napster and programs like it because some of us do use it in a way that benefits both the artist and the RIAA.

I wonder if there are any icebergs at this time of year and at the latitudes at which we will be crossing the North Atlantic?

The kind of people who obsessively download albums and burn them to CD, never buying an original copy would probably find another way to do so if Napster wasn't around.

But the inconvenience!!! Arrggh! And also, then Napster, inc. would lose "eyeballs", hits and potential ad revenue. That would be sad. No, unacceptable. After all, the head Napster moron was on the cover of a bunch of magazines in a baseball cap and all. He deserves a few million for ripping off the code behind IRC and slapping a huge legal notice on it.

First of all, yes Jens, I have been in the "backline truck in the wrong city" situation, only I was the one in the backline truck, and we were being detained in a Weigh Station for over 6 hours, but that's another story!

Well, that's the right city but six hours too late. What's the problem? :*)

[ Ahem. Also I just wanted to add for the record: I was in the right city, the backline truck was not (perhaps a subtle distinction, what do I know). Never missed a gig yet. ]

Easy access/distribution of new bands and/or music VERSUS Copyright law. Would you agree?

I am not against opening new distribution paths (of course). I am against ANY erosion of the current copyright law. I guess that should be clear by now. Pah, who cares what I'm against or for, anyway!? Let the courts speak and then I'll shut up. Actually, I'll shut up after sending this. I'm going out for a few drinks in Buenos Aires with some friends.

Then I'll wreck my hotel room, like every night. <rubbing hands> I'll make a fortune this tour!

1) Would anti-Napster proponents be more in favor of it if, say, the quality was limited to 56Kbps or less on copyrighted material. That way the "I heard it through Napster, so I bought the CD" scenario would have an extra incentive, the higher quality of the recording.

The incentive is there even with 256 kbps if you listen carefully enough.

The issue to me is the negative effects of the erosion of the current copyright protection (which composers and performers have enjoyed only the last 100 years or so.)

I know from hard-fought experience that no one will bitch-slap a person that copies a piece of music owned by some other person (perhaps on a distant continent), say, the same way they would be bitch-slapped if they copied, say, a small piece of paper saying "$100" that the US department of Treasury cared about.

That's the situation NOW.

I'd like it to not get worse. Very much.

Napster, inc. is simply an organized attempt at affecting erosion of copyright (specifically for music) by a well-financed corporate entity. Well-financed, but with a business model which to me illuminates in a very sad way our kinship to our tree-dwelling, intellectually challanged primate relatives.

[ and: "person" of course defined as a member of the great, unwashed, unethical masses outside of this list. ]

2) What about bands that are releasing, with thier consent, whole, high quality, MP3's of upcoming material, such as Satriani did on his website, versus other bands that have been threatened by thier label for doing the same thing? Who has the control of the Copyright?

Yes, "copyright" gives them that right. Fine with me! Whatever they choose. Current law gives them that right. I happen to believe future law should as well..

3) Does anyone else find it strange that Metallica had the whole S&M project available for listening on the web before it came out in stores, THEN they gripe about Napster? Is the issue as simple as: "If it's on the web, WE want to be the ones that put it there?"

"Copyright: the exclusive right to the publication, production, or sale of the rights to a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, or to the use of a commercial print or label, granted by law for a specified period of time to an author, composer, artist, etc "

(So, it's their decision as creators = copyright holders. "by law" means this is something we as a society have decided that the majority supports, like paying taxes for the common good, or it not being OK to chop someone's head off because they touched your shield)

I don't see any evidence of loss of revenue to anyone.

I can't directly see any evidence of quarks.

I understand your postion Jens, but I guess I need more convincing that it's a bad thing.

Regrettably, if whatever I typed before didn't do it, I do not think I can make you understand the seriousness of the situation. I'm not going to come over to your house and start screaming in your face. There's not enough time.

I guess the courts will speak..

Anyway, I think it's somewhat parallel to the issue of gun legislation in the US (or: the other side of the coin: the erosion of the right to carry firearms.) I can see both sides of that story too. It's not black and white, because a lot of firearms are already out there. Some people feel the need to protect themselves.

But the issue of copyright erosion is to me a lot more important, I can imagine people 400 years from now being deprived of works that otherwise would have been written or performed. That's serious. We are beings of culture, not beasts of burden.

The gun debate doesn't simply carry as much weight with me, personally. I know it does to other people. I can't envision people 400 years from now in general being upset over whether person X or Y in the 21st century were allowed to carry firearms or not — unless of course one of their ancestors were killed because he wasn't armed. Or perhaps because he was armed. Then there will be a very pissed off free-floating ancestor-less spirit floating around somewhere poltergeisting and generally becoming a nuisance, requiring ghostbusters to come to the rescue.

Here's my opinion: The people loosing out are the POPULAR artists. However, this has been true for YEARS. Why? Cassette tape recorders!

True.

Their investment: A blank cassette. The only thing that has changed is the method. That can can be blamed on technology advancements. Is this any worse? That's your call.

But then of course, society responded with the imposition of the 'blank tape tax' [ say what you will about that. ]

Those that wish to steal, will. They've always had that option since tape recorders became available to home users back in the 50s.. (Open reel)

Of course. But should a venture-capital funded corporate entity be allowed to be directly encourage this? On a global scale?

I think it's 150% clear "Napster, inc." is has a lot of implicit, basic intent to aid people in committing music copyright violations. Much more so that manufacturers of compact cassettes, for instance. (to put it in a historical perspective for all of you other intellectual property law buffs out there. are there any out there?? help??)

The niche artist can only gain revenue simply because they gain exposure. [..] the end product onto CD? Napster just makes theft more efficient.

Exactly. I wish I could say "at their profit", but as far as I know, they're too stupid to even turn a profit yet.

Another intelligent solution was mentioned by Jim: (aka Roadie) Limiting the the bitrate 56kbps.. That would be good enough to determine if the material was worth purchasing.

I agree. That, to me, should be the choice of any copyright holder (as it is under current law).

A big HELL YEAH to that!!!!
Napster has opened up my eyes to so many awesome bands and a huge variety of
music that I otherwise would never have known existed!!!
Thanks to Napster I now know about, have bought cd's of and enjoy immensely,
bands such as...
The Gathering Symphony X Pain Of Salvation Explorer's Club
The Tea Party Opeth Amorphis
and a shitload of others!!!
It has also steered me away from some stuff that I otherwise would have
bought and been extremely disappointed with. Dissapointed enough to not want
to buy any music from bands that I wasn't prepared to take a punt on
otherwise!!!
My band isn't anywhere near as established as Jen's is and I take his point,
but to a young "unknown" band such as Cydonia, we will really appreciate
Napster when our cd is finished in January. The more exposure the better at
this stage of our career.
Cheers!

What can I say. Have fun!

I hope you're the kind of guy that weasels out of jury duty. :*)

[...] Of course you as a musician and everybody who creates something unique (writer, programmer etc.) owns the copyright to his work in the first place. The concept of the copyright in its pure form is very clear and something that nobody will deny (insert ludicrous exception here). So now that we agree on your basic right to control your work, let's see how the concept is weakend by introducing the concept of capitalism, i.e. trading goods for money.

Contrarily, in my opinion, copyright without capitalism is meaningless. (Speaking as someone that has recorded — by some weird fucking proxy agreement — under the Melodiya label. You know, the Soviet state label. That happen to anyone else here? A bit vexing when that happens, isn't it? )

As soon as you sign a contract with a record company you lose some control over your copyright. In laymens terms, you usually sign a deal that allows them to distribute copies of your work and in return you get money.

Yes. You trade control for convenience and mass marketing possibilities.

In your case it's probably that Strato gets a specific amount of money as an advance = a "loan" to produce your next album and this advance will be be payed back with the earnings from the actual record sales).

That's pretty accurate.

In addition to whatever agreement you have with you record company, they'll tell you how much records they sold and how often a specific song was played on the radio and you'll receive royalies according to these numbers.

Something like that, yes.

By the time your work is distributed through various channels (record companies, distributors, wholesale chains, record stores) you already lost a great amount of control over your intellectual property while you still own "copyright".

Yes.

Napster is just another channel where intellectual property is traded without control of the original owner. Difference: you don't get royalties, record companies don't earn money. If Napster were making any money off that concept without having a contract with you or sending you the appropiate royalties, I could see this as theft.

How about if they're losing money? I guess it's sort of like theft, but really stupid. Like someone robbing you, and then burning the bills.

Therefore "Napster bad" (J.Hetfield :-) If Napster doesn't make any money... well it's just another way of distribution without consent of the owner of intellectual property - just like tapetrading, video-copying or making copies of a picture.

It's more well organized. And it sets a dangerous precedent.

Conclusion: Whatever your point on the program called "Napster" is, you better get used to the idea of not having 100% control over your intellectual property. Let me quote a key sentence from an article in Wired 10/2000 p.240: "No law can be successfully imposed on a huge population that does not morally support it and possesses easy means for its invisible evasion." [ ... ] Let me present you another quote from the same Wired article: "The war is on, all right, but to my mind it's over. The future will win; there will be no property in cyberspace. [..] It's a pity that entertainment moguls are too wedged in to the past to recognize this, because now they are requiring us to fight a war anyway. So we'll fatten lawyers with a fortune that could be spent fostering and distributing creativity. And we may be forced to watch a few pointless public executions - Shawn Fanning's cross awaits - when we could be employing such condemned genius in the service of a greater good."

So, "the cat is out of the bag already, so deal with it". This is exactly the sort of argument more intelligent Napster proponents make, and which to me is at the very core of the discussion.

Well, as an example, they said that ("the cat is out of the bag") about MDMA (aka "Ecstasy") in the 80's: "It's not a controlled drug, because it's not on any controlled drug schedule! It's free! It's A-OK!" Guess what. Society (which sometimes does the right thing, something does the wrong thing, as always depending on your point of view and level of understanding) decided that trafficking and sale of MDMA should be severely restricted. And there you have it. All of a sudden MDMA REEEALLY BAAAAAD! Quickquickquick, sell all of your http://my.MDMA.com stock!

We're moving toward a more information-oriented society. Information is intangible. But society can protect it, and trafficking in it. Strong crypto might even get outlawed, some day, who knows. If you find that concept outrageous (as I do myself) consider the apparent absurdity in the fact that you can't print your own Deutschmark notes and start using them. Just pieces of paper with ink on them, right? Wrong. Very wrong!!

Wired's hot air notwithstanding.

Anyway, a public and very bloody execution sets an important precedent. BTW I would love to use a printout of recent mp3.COM stock prices as my desktop were it not for the fact that I have a friend that foolishly invested a bit of her savings money in that company.

Sorry everyone, fucking enough already about this...

The Client Considered Dangerous

Polymath Thor Lancelot Simon <tls@rek.tjls.com> has a very sharp mind and a firm understanding of intellectual property laws. He decided one fine day to examine the Napster client, just for fun. ( "client" = the program you install and run on your windows machine.) This post was the result. (Reproduced here with permission)

>From: tls@panix.com (Thor Lancelot Simon)
>Newsgroups: panix.questions
>Subject: Re: Is Napster being blocked?
>Date: 8 May 2000 18:38:52 -0400
>Reply-To: tls@rek.tjls.com

[ ... ]

The Napster software itself horrifies me. I spent most of a day carefully examining it on a blank Win32 machine which I carefully burned to the ground afterwards. Aside from a number of dubious techniques used by its installer and a general low degree of obvious code quality and high degree of obvious bugginess, it has several attributes which appear to me to be pretty damned close to the behaviour of a Trojan horse.

No matter what directory you tell it it can use, in the installation step Napster examines the contents of every file in your filesystem, evidently to determine whether or not it's an MP3 file. Unless carefully reconfigured not to, it even advertises them all — meaning that, by default, naive users will offer up copyrighted music to other Napster users if they have any on their hard drives. Furthermore, it's surprisingly hard to get all of Napster off your machine; the supplied uninstaller does not do so.

Lastly, we're confronted with the fact that the software comes from an entity which clearly is more concerned with how long it can fart thick black smoke in the general direction of the courts and the press while doing, in the long term, incredible harm to the actual cause of digital copyright rationalization, than either legality, ethicality, or that cause. You can't tell me with a straight face that Napster the entity actually believes, or ever did, that the principal use of its service would not be the unauthorized distribution of copies of copyrighted works. Nor that it isn't inherently obvious that the more music a user accumulates, the worse his Napster server — and every Napster installation is a server — floods the network he's on. And that in that way, Napster is deriving commercial benefit from the flooding of other people's networks, which I also happen to think is unethical.

So, you have a bunch of unethical people, also evidently not particularly concerned with legality, so long as they can get away with violating the law in the short term, who wrote and are distributing a piece of software which scans through every file on your hard disk byte-by-byte, and also includes a network server component designed to let people get files from your machine. And no, you can't have the source code.

Hmmmmmm..... sounds like a great idea to run that.

If you're a total fuckwit, that is.

--
Thor Lancelot Simon / tls@rek.tjls.com
"And where do all these highways go, now that we are free?"


Page updated Sep 27, 2002 at 14:04 Email: jens@panix.com

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