Saturday, March 05, 2005

music and sharing

When they killed Napster I stopped buying CDs.

Now they try to tell us Napster is back, but don't be fooled. The thing that wears the name of Napster today is nothing but a shambling zombie.

The soulless demonic forces ruling the music industry have ripped Napster's rotting corpse from the grave, stuffed it with foulness and decay, and sent it forth on a mission to win over our hearts and minds. It's no surprise they are failing. Let us all hope they continue to fail.

The true Napster, the Napster that once was, held out a glorious promise. At its peak this promise was still only partly realized, but even then it came close enough to let us glimpse what we could have: a vast library, containing every piece of music ever recorded, instantly available from the moment someone says to you, "You might enjoy listening to this track I heard the other day."

To let this happen, millions of people donated their own bandwidth and hardware to the project. They upgraded their Net connections and their hard drives, so they could share (and acquire, of course) more music.

For me, file sharing was never about "getting stuff without paying for it." Once I had used Napster to preview an artist's work, more often than not, I bought CDs to support that artist. Judging by the rise of CD sales during the rise of Napster, and the fall in CD sales after Napster was no more, I was far from alone in this.

But then the RIAA stepped in, and killed Napster. Inadvertently, they also educated us all about the vast corruption in the music industry. We learned how precious few of the dollars we spent on CDs went to the artists we loved. We learned the ruthless RIAA was willing to threaten little kids and little old ladies with financial ruin, just for a slim chance to hold onto their ill-gotten gains in the face of technology that makes their business model obsolete.

Now they want us to pay for crippled, low-quality music files, attempting to repackage their whole morally bankrupt business model in a shiny new digital format. Well, I'm not willing to pay them one dime for that.

For the potential of the old Napster, for the universally open media library, I would have been willing to pay. But no major, legal, RIAA-sanctioned service is offering anything like that.

I'm not going to support these many different subscription services, each with its own incompatible locked-down file format, each with its own exclusive content.

Even if withdrawing my support from such idiocy means the only CDs I can buy are the ones being sold directly by the musicians that created them.

Maybe it's about five years too late for posting my views on this subject to help anyone, but hey, better late than never, right?


Anonymous Brooke said...

Ahem... Have ya heard of a lil program called WinMX?

Ya know at first I felt bad about stealin all the songs from the Garden State soundtrack; then I saw Zach Braff went Hollywood and now I don't care. *thumbups*

01 June, 2005 12:45  

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