Part 3 : Technology is not piracy

This opinion is one I really haven’t formed yet, so as I
speak about Napster now, please understand that I’m not
totally informed. I will be the first in line to file a
class action suit to protect my copyrights if Napster or
even the far more advanced Gnutella doesn’t work with us to
protect us. I’m on [Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich’s
side, in other words, and I feel really badly for him that
he doesn’t know how to condense his case down to a
sound-bite that sounds more reasonable than the one I saw
today.

I also think Metallica is being given too much grief.
It’s anti-artist, for one thing. An artist speaks up and the
artist gets squashed: Sharecropping. Don’t get above your
station, kid. It’s not piracy when kids swap music over the
Internet using Napster or Gnutella or Freenet or iMesh or
beaming their CDs into a My.MP3.com or MyPlay.com music
locker. It’s piracy when those guys that run those companies
make side deals with the cartel lawyers and label heads so
that they can be “the labels’ friend,” and not the
artists’.

Recording artists have essentially been giving their
music away for free under the old system, so new technology
that exposes our music to a larger audience can only be a
good thing. Why aren’t these companies working with us to
create some peace?

There were a billion music downloads last year, but music
sales are up. Where’s the evidence that downloads hurt
business? Downloads are creating more demand.

Why aren’t record companies embracing this great
opportunity? Why aren’t they trying to talk to the kids
passing compilations around to learn what they like? Why is
the RIAA suing the companies that are stimulating this new
demand? What’s the point of going after people swapping
cruddy-sounding MP3s? Cash! Cash they have no intention of
passing onto us, the writers of their profits.

At this point the “record collector” geniuses who use
Napster don’t have the coolest most arcane selection anyway,
unless you’re into techno. Hardly any pre-1982 REM fans, no
’60s punk, even the Alan Parsons Project was
underrepresented when I tried to find some Napster buddies.
For the most part, it was college boy rawk without a lot of
imagination. Maybe that’s the demographic that cares — and
in that case, My Bloody Valentine and Bert Jansch aren’t
going to get screwed just yet. There’s still time to
negotiate.

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