Re: Napster: thoughts and comments?

From: Emlyn (onetel) (
Date: Tue Jul 11 2000 - 09:21:24 MDT

E. Shaun Russell wrote:
> This makes my music ideal for download, as the quality is by no means
> "poor," and the potential listener will still get the full effect of my
> compositional ability. However, to create a truly polished product, I
> need minor financing or a limited recording contract. This is where small
> label record companies can be helpful.

They can only help if they can survive, which means they need a way to make
money. I'm not a terribly big fan of all things big & commercial; however,
this copyright issue will cut to all levels. How does anyone make money if
everything can be pirated so fantastically well? One of the interesting
things is ease of distribution of pirated copy vs legit copy; it becomes
*easier* to download the pirated version than it is to bother with buying
the legit version, because you don't have to work out how to pay (one of the
main reasons the web is still about free stuff is because it is too hard for
people to pay, irrespective of whether they have the money).

If no one can make a return on investment, there will be no investment.
There will be no quality recordings; just what we can scratch together in
our basements, out of love. I am as seduced by this "f*ck the record
industry" stuff as the next guy, but there needs to be some balance.

Or we need a major economic/political overhaul, to cope with information
being free. Which would be a good thing, but hard.

Either way, given that we currently live in a capitalist system, and people
need to get paid for doing things, this wholesale piracy is not some kind of
lovely grassroots anarchy; it's stealing stuff. More like looting, really.

Reminds me of "socialist" friends I've had in the past; they started
stealing things (bricks and mortar stuff), and found they could get away
with it. So they spouted more socialist rhetoric, and stole more stuff. Marx
said that economic structures(basic ownership) dictates social structure,
which dictates ideology; ironic really. I don't think he really advocated
just going around taking things (or maybe he did? bloody revolution and all
that). Anyway, these kinds of people you can do without; the rhetoric covers
an intense selfishness. I hope the meme that it is morally right to get
pirated stuff doesn't take the hold that I think it is going to; it's a
morally bankrupt position.

As a musician, if you want to promote information freedom, then give away
your work. I do (some of it, anyway). If you believe that the record
industry can be toppled by this kind of grassroots action, then this kind of
thing should be enough to do it; together, we can outcompete them. However,
stealing people's work is an entirely different matter.

For the record, I don't think the record industry will be toppled any time
soon by this kind of action. If anything, they'll get stronger. They have an
essential function of promotion; they tell the masses what to buy. This is
in no way undermined by distribution costs shrinking toward zero by way of
the net. Promotion costs are still just as high as ever. If anything, the
market for the american record companies has become bigger; local industries
in other countries is going to suffer, but the big guys will keep cultural
colonisation alive and well. Now if I owned a distribution company, or a
chain of record stores, I'd be sweating. Or is that whole industry vertical,
and the big record companies can just back out of shopfronts gracefully and
step into websites?

(hmmm, almost spelled colonisation with a Z)


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