Napster Wars


Subject: Napster

Since you're saying that the issue you want to debate isn't the fairness issue
or why copyright exists then what is left is this:
Society decides that stealing is bad and makes it illegal.
Doing this illegal act is hard so enforcement is not difficult.
Technology changes.
Stealing becomes easy.
Enforcement is no longer easy.
Therefore stealing things this new and easy way should be legal since people will do it anyway.
Now, you are arguing that since enforcement is no longer easy that the law should not be enforced
and that it should be OK for people to break the law. In other words, we should make it illegal to
do bad things only if they are hard to do.
If so, why have laws?
You are, in effect, saying that society should not create or enforce laws
unless the crime is so difficult that people can't commit them in the first place.
Following this to their reducio ad absurdum conclusion:
Technology like guns makes it easy to kill someone so it shouldn't be illegal since people will do it anyway.
Society decides that killing someone is bad and makes it illegal.
Doing this illegal act is hard (lots of them want to fight back!) so enforcement is not difficult.
Technology changes and guns allow killing without having to get close enough to get hurt yourself.
Killing people becomes easy.
Enforcement is no longer easy.
Therefore shooting people should be legal since people will do it anyway.
Just wondering if this is what you are really saying.

Mike, I'm glad you said your argument was absurdum.
Whenever the subject of legalizing pot comes up, the right-wing says,
"Well, ..then, ...should we legalize rape and murder, too?" as though the two were equal.

A better argument is, "Why have laws that cannot be enforced?"
What if they made it illegal to lust after a pretty girl in a bikini, as the Catholics have done?
The catholics have you burning in Hell for eternity if you have your heart attack in mid-lust.

The right and wrong isn't the issue, in my opinion.
The issue is, "Since this technology exists, what will we do about it?"

Maybe the days of paying $15 for one good song are over.
Maybe the record companies need a good shaking out.

When cars were first invented, I'm sure a lot of people screamed, "What about the horse industry?"
The world is changing.


Subject: NAPSTER


I sent a couple of e-mails before this, but I guess I didn't quite understand where you were going with it.
So here's a better answer to your question.

If I tell your joke to a few family members and friends, and don't give you a dollar, you're only going to be
out a few bucks.  You'll probably never hear about, so big deal.  Also, I'm not profiting on your work,
I'm actually only giving you more publicity if I tell people that you wrote the joke.
So, again you are not really damaged.

But if I decide that it's such a great joke that I can make some money off of it, and publicize that I have it,
and am willing to sell it--eventually I'm going to sell it to someone like Christian Livemore or Brainsmasher.
You'll find out about it and sue me for your property rights.  Or you're going to catch me simply based on
the publicity that I'm putting out to draw customers.

What Napster is doing is giving away your joke for free, but providing billboard space for other advertisers,
and getting paid by the advertisers.  They don't profit directly from your joke, but they are still invading your
property rights for profit, and you have the right to be compensated.  You know that Napster is doing this
the same way everyone in the world knows they are doing it--advertising.  If Napster didn't advertise,
and nobody knew that they could get your joke for free through them, it wouldn't be profitable for
sponsors to pay Napster to provide links on their website, nor would it be worth Napster's trouble
to set up the website and maintain it.

The key element here is mass distribution which seriously damages the property rights of the artist.
But passing something from person to person does not.  The legal Latin is De minimus non curat lex.
(I hope that's spelled right, because I have enough trouble spelling English.)
It means, "the law does not concern itself with trifles."

Jim H.

Good point.
As someone who has collected live music for 25 years, I know there's a difference
between trading tapes of a concert and burning a thousand CDs for resale.

You know what another point is that nobody has mentioned yet?
I'll bet there's not a mainstream musician in America who doesn't own,
or hasn't enjoyed listening to, a bootleg of a concert or recording session.

By the way, you say Napster has advertising?
I've never seen an ad there, but maybe I have and it just didn't register.


Subject: Arguing about Napster


I've noted that all the people who are arguing about Napster with you all make the same point:
It's not fair to the artist that their work gets distributed for free. Leaving aside the questionable
proposition that Lars, Dr. Dre and Eminem are "artists", let me point out that the people most
against napster aren't the artists, but the giga-gigantic multinational entertainment conglomerates
who are terrified at this incursion into their traditional, extremely profitable distribution channels.

I think you're right on the money.

Despite the name, the Recording Industry Artists of America is not made up of artists, but record companies.
These are the same folks who for years have charged more for music on CD, even though it costs substantially
less to produce a CD than a cassette tape.

This is a slightly different subject, but why do movie studios charge $99 for a tape of a movie
and sell the DVD for $30?  We know blank tapes cost less than a dollar, so that other $98 is
for the "blue sky" that makes up the movie.  So - why are DVDs so damn cheap?

It's no secret there's a lot of funny money in Hollywood.
Do you remember when Art Buchwald sued whoever owned "Coming to America?"
(He claimed he had the original idea and sued for a share of the profits.)
That movie made over $300 million, but it never made a penny in "profit" because they know
how to pay $1500 for a beat up cardboard box in Hollywood.

I've seen the accounting for that movie. Swear to Koresh, they paid $1500 for a dirty cardboard box
and if you multiply that "Hollywood magic" a few thousand times, a movie will never show a profit.

THAT is why Napster is such a threat to them, in my opinion.

Hell, remember when CDs were new? One of the promised advantages to CDs was that they would cost less.
But the RIAA never passed those cost reductions onto the public. They charged more for a product that cost
them less, pocketed the profits and have the temerity to complain about people who don't want to pay for
their product. These guys have been screwing the artists for years.

Did you know the average musician sees about $1 out of every CD purchased?
That's not Napster's fault.


DOUBLE BINGO on your last paragraph.
And if you're in a group, say five of you, you get twenty cents.
It's the same as a farmer getting twenty cents for every box of Rice Crispies that sells for $4.50.

As Al Pacino used to say, "Something's really wrong here."

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