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.
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
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
Copyright 2001, Marc Freedman