Napster is Dead: Long live property rights!

I’d like to add that what forms of creativity are mass-marketable (and therefore a possible substitute for having a day job) has always depended on technology. For instance, I used to be a college professor. There has never been, and may never be, a way for me to sell millions of copies of my calculus lectures. To make money off 'em, I’d have to keep on giving 'em. Such is life.

What’s happening is that the ground is shifting under the feet of the recording industry. They’d like to think they’ve got a right that the world continue to work in a certain way that’s been exceedingly profitable to them, but in reality, they have no such right. What we have here is something a bit too slippery for the law. (Although an essay in the February Discover gives an interesting take on how it would play out if the law tried to geep grappling.) And in the end, laws pushed through Congress by high-powered industry lobbyists without the awareness, let alone the consent, of the governed, have approximately zero moral authority.

idiotboy, no harm, no foul. The thing about technologies like Napster, and the recording industry in general, is that not only don’t all people have the same opinion, all musicians don’t have the same opinion.

Certainly, you and jerkwaterjive obviously have a well-thought-out plan and work hard at what you do. But not everyone can be in the same boat. Take my friend Aaron, from my old band. He still does some recording with his musician friends, all long-distance. They exchange master tapes and record their parts separately. There aren’t going to be any live shows to fund that. If he wants to sell that material, but there is a potential for millions of people to simply take it for free, well . . . surely you can see the problems implicit in that.

Believe me, I’m no fan of the way big labels do business; “recoupable costs” are the biggest load of crap to come down the pike in many an age. My bands have always self-released or released on very small local labels, allowing us to retain complete control over the material. (Although as Aaron once said, “I’d at least like to have had the chance to sell out.”) But I do believe artists have to be able to maintain control over the distribution of their material, and Napster, in a significant way, takes that control away from them.

If nothing else, its popularity has proven that even in the CD age, the singles format is not dead. The industry needs to move to a model that will allow easy preview of material (like browsing a book at the store) and single-track sales. I just can’t approve of this wholesale distribution of copyrighted material in this manner; and my perception is that while there are genuine revolutionaries and people seeking new music out there, most people use Napster to get the new Sting or 'N Sync album without paying for it.

As far as what I do, I can assure you I ain’t livin’ large on record sales. None of my bands has ever even broken even on a release. Our stuff has always been small, locally produced and released, and we’ve always lost money. It so happens that several people I know e-mailed me some time ago to say that had seen my songs on Napster (the band is THe Palindromes, if they’re still there). One (SDMB poster City Gent) asked me if I wanted him to mail a check, which I declined; I’ve known him since high school, and would have given him a copy for free anyway. But I don’t want to give away a few hundred copies for free!

Okay idiotboy… Yes there is the obvious matter of musicians, artists and doctors providing different services. You seem to be making the case that some services should be available for free. You and your band are allowing your music to be downloaded. That’s great, really, i have some friends that are doing the same thing. The point is, you have been able to give your permission to do so. Most of the music available on Napster is not there by permission of the artists and record companies, which makes them illegal copies.

You also seem to be ingnoring my argument simply because you think only music is pirateble. If someone takes a photo of my work without my permission or knowledge and makes it available over the internet, that is copyright violation. I can choose to distribute images of my work, but that’s my decision. You mentioned that some doctors volunteer their services. The key word there is VOLUNTEER. They made the decision to work altuistically. They were not comepelled to work for free. The whole argument here is about CONTROL.

And, one last note, ever heard of shareware and freeware?? No one pays for those. And if I recall… they’re PROGRAMS, written by PROGRAMMERS.

Closing down Napster will stop mp3 trading like closing down Fox would stop network tv.

You all need to read (if you haven’t already) Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” But I’ll give a poorly worded, over-simplified genral version:

once art was cool to look at because each work of art was (almost) absolutely unique. As in “Hey! look at that! I’ve never seen anything like that!”

Then, art became not just reproduceable, but meant to be reproduced (he uses movies as an example, so this is a somewhat older argument than the thread here). So the enjoyment of the “art” of movies was not that you were look at the singular, unique OBJECT created by some artist, but you were participating in a singular unique EXPERIENCE created by the artist.

WHich meant that the more it was reproduced, the more people got to enjoy it, and therefore, the more successful it was.

Of course, all this is ignoring money, ho-hum. But really. You artists and musicians, are you honestly saying that if a few thousand people suddenly downloaded a free reproduction of your work and started talking all over the 'net about how cool the work by (insert your real name/nome de plume/band name here) was, you would be mad? Because they hadn’t paid you? Gimme a break! I’d be jumping up and down and kissing the keyboard for the fabulous P.R. boon to my career. On the other hand, if I was already famous and established, what… bon jovi and metallica need another 8cents or whatever it is they actually see of each record sale?


Palmyra, thank you for so maturely making light of my name. I never noticed that before… :rolleyes:

Regardless, no offense taken…

Well, yes, some services should be free! Radio is free, right? Of course, most of it sucks nowadays…and that’s why people are turning to the internet. Napster gives people a chance to listen to music they’re actually interested in, rather than what the radio programmers decide to congest our airwaves with.

Napster also provides protection for the consumers. So many bands record an album, with one good song. That song gets radio play. Everyone thinks the band is good, so they buy the CD and realize they spent $20 on one good song, and a bunch of musical crap.

Now, of course you’re gonna have people who abuse the system. You always have people who abuse the system. There isn’t much difference between those folks who go onto Napster to download N’Sync’s new CD without having to pay and walking into the store and stealing it. And I really don’t think N’Sync deserves the money anyways, but that’s a whole other discussion altogether… :smiley:

At this point in history, the first time where the civil public has just as much, if not more, knowledge than the government and the industry, there’s no point in fighting it. The people will get what they want, one way or another. Whether you like it or not, it’s gonna happen, and no one can stop it.

No, I don’t think only music is piratable. I’m only saying that music is the simplest to pirate. And it’s the most widely violated medium in the world right now. I’ve seen tons of Warez sites with software that surely isn’t shareware…but there it is for me to download. It’s everywhere. But Warez sites aren’t as popular as Napster is, because they’re a little more difficult for your average “AOLer” to figure out. But Napster made it simple. That’s why 50 million people worldwide thought it was ok to break a law.

Yes, I know what Freeware and Shareware are…but do you see any of these programs rivaling MicroSoft? Not yet…but maybe it’ll happen.

So whether you like it or not, there “copyright” laws need to change. They are way outdated, and alot of these record companies are gonna have to find new ways to make money, because now that the public has gotten a whiff of what’s cooking, it’s only a matter of time before it’s totally unstoppable. And that’s not just with music…

And I can only agree 100% with dweezil! That book, however outdated, still applies to what is happening today. It only shows how history truly repeats itself.

mblackwell - Excellent analogy!!! :smiley:

pldennison - You are so right. However, as far as the artists losing control over distribution, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. I mean, the whole reason why a band has their music played on the radio or MTV, is to gain exposure. And Napster only helps the process. I, for one, attribute Napster for turning me on to many many bands, that I would have otherwise never heard on the radio or MTV. Some of these bands probably never even knew they were on Napster. But I’m sure they were more than happy with the sudden popularity.

However, I totally agree that a new business model needs to be put in place, if the recording industry knows what’s good for them. If they try to keep their business running the same way they have for the past few decades…they are going to fall way behind, and the internet is going to swallow them whole, since their CD sales will stop completely, and the artists themselves are reaping the benefits from the internet. As they learned with the cassette tape and the CD…never fight the technology…it’ll only bite you in the ass. Embrace it and make it better!

RTFirefly - GREAT article! Really makes ya think… :wink: Thanks!

Actually, (and you conspiracy theorists can have a field day with this) radio isn’t programmed by the programmers in the radio stations, it’s programmed by…
…wait for it…
…The record companies.

Well, not directly. There are programmers at the radio stations. And those programmers can choose from a list of songs that the record companies demand to be played. All the programmers do is randomize the list, so it’s not the exact same order every day…altho I think they’re slackin’ there, too. I’ve heard that damn Limp Durst and Aaron dude song EVERY day exactly at noon.

So I’ve started a running tab of the different fallacies that Dopers use here… How many “no true scotsmans” should I put you down for, idiotboy?


Well, your attitude and persistance in advancing the position that you should be able to get someone’s creation and copyrighted material is just soooo laughable, I couldn’t resist. :smiley:

I think I should also point out that radio is FAR from free. You pay for it by hearing ads. The radio stations pay for each song they spin. Just because it doesn’t cost money doesn’t mean it isn’t free.

I’m a strong IPR guy. But I did think a decent compromise was the ‘opt in’ scenario where artists would choose to forbid their content from appearing on Napster. Shouldn’t even be all that difficult a programming fix.

But let me ask this quesiton to move the debate along:

Napster lets people use their service for free. Napster is a for-profit entity. Eventually they would start charging either the users or the artists for the use of the site (preferably both, if I know my corporate types). What then, would become of your ‘revolution’?