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Copyrights, Napster, and our Future


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Copyrights, Napster, and our Future

Times change. Five years ago the Internet was the future, a vast unexplored wilderness. Two years ago it was here, an insane blur of capital, money, and enterprises. Today it's a ghost town populated by Main Street corporate fixer-uppers already gentryfin' the place.

This time compression is whacking everyone and everything around and it ain't gonna change. If you don't like it, you can get the hell off my web and leave it to me and the children. Please. Go find yourself one of those castrated mobile phones and get your weather in four lines of retro ascii text. Then move to Japan.

The copyright lawsuits are a great war for the soul of this warped frontier. On one side there's the powerful record companies. The ones looking like your friendly broadband-phobic phone companies. And they get the same amount of sympathy. Like any good oligopoly they have clout and wrote the laws that we have. The public has little say in the matter. In the greed corner we also have a handful of multimillion dollar bands and estates from artists long dead. They all have in common the drive to keep the status quo. Old rulez.

On the other side there's you and me. We have ripped off the system. Damn, Napster was painful but it felt good. And we didn't have to clean up afterward. Can we do it again? … Perhaps we feel a little dirty afterward. Still, we NapComeback for more. Why? Because the record companies are arrogant shits and don't have a clue about consumers. Because they don't understand tech and fight it at every step. Because we can.

We know it's a new world. With new rulez. Contrary to the reports of the moment, the Internet is still there. The revolution is just starting. It will likely be televised, definitely blogged, and it's not going to change. Me and my Nappie-friends are 70 million strong. If anyone's out there, the people have spoken. You might want to listen.

The record companies have Intellectual Property law on their side. But does that make it right? More importantly, does it matter? 50 billion songs have been downloaded from Napster. We've ripped, copied, and created another 50 billion. Your children and mine are growing up in this wired world. 72% of college students used Napster at its height, 19% every day. Is there any doubt where we'll be in 20 years?

So kill Napster. Please. Make my day. And you did! O, you glorious power lovin', license grubbin', myopic viewin' corporate bureaucrats. Hilary and friends made a martyr. Murder the mama and now there's a whole clutch of thriving cuddly babies like Kazaa, Audiogalaxy, Aimster, Gnutella, BearShare, LimeWire, ToadNode, and MusicCity. The gremlins are a magnitude meaner than their ancient progenitor. Next generation tech, fully distributed nets, international homes. Try shutting that down, copyright boys. Slit the throat of one and there's plenty more. Now you really did it.

But you don't have to panic, Mr. Big Shot Producer. We'll still pay for things like quality, speed, convenience, and service. If you can prove the value and deliver. And we're not talking about your magic that destroys the song after 3 plays and is playable only on proprietary players. No one is holding their breath for any of those new online music efforts that'll fry your pc if you move your speaker two inches to the right.

We've seen this before. Ten years ago Hollywood got its ass kicked by Nintendo. Today it's Napster. Tomorrow it's video. In ten more years it'll be direct cerebral immersive communications with organic mitochondrial data storage. No matter what it looks like when it enters, it all looks the same when it exits. Just more software to jack into our meat.

The new rulez aren't that new after all. Low security, privacy, customer-based pricing, free distribution as cheap promotion, value-added subscription and maintenance. Just software.

So let us hold hands and sing songs of joy as we hurtle to the future on the peace train, whether it's Venus' Shocking Blue or Eminem's The Real Slim Shady.

"Our allegiance is to ourselves, our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have
no future."

The _Cluetrain Manifesto_, Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, David Weinberger

Oh, I also need to 'borrow' a few tunes. Give me a shout if you have Liquid Pleasure's Take a Little, Touch of Class's I'm in Heaven, or Fifth Dimension's Earthbound album.

Copyright 2001, Marc Freedman



Copyright 2003-4 Marc Freedman. All Rights Reserved.

All opinions expressed herein are those of the author unless otherwise noted. This web site at www.diariaa.com is non-commercial satire. It is in no way endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America. All trademarks and copyrights mentioned on this site are retained by their respective owners.

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