Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Old Skool VS. New Skool

In my house, there has never been an end to the ridicule of Metallica for suing Napster. The Man thought they were sellouts before that happened of course, but that was the icing on the proverbial cake. He has sworn to the music gods that he will never buy a CD from a band that participates in lawsuits of this kind –even if it should be one of his favorites (like GVSB). The Napster thing was embarrassing, I admit.

Now, MGM is suing Grokster (a file sharing company)and the case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. These cases are fascinating to me, because technology has allowed the little guy to hold power over the conglomerates. Instead of the corner hardware store going under because Home Depot came to town or the local vet going under because a Pet Smart cropped up around the block…the big boys are freaking out over the average person sitting in their living room with a PC.

This is being dubbed as the most important copyright case in two decades. Grokster’s argument, that expanding copyright laws broad enough to include file sharing software will greatly impede technology, was met with a responsive attitude by the SC judges.

"Whether this argument makes headway may depend on the technological universe that the court considers in applying it. Grokster and StreamCast are asking the court to look at all possible uses of file sharing, not just the use that is made of their own software." (source)

"Musicians themselves seem split down the middle on the subject. On the one hand are artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, Dr Dre and Metallica who claim that free music would ruin the business and destroy their livelihoods.
Others such as Courtney Love, Moby, Brian Eno and Public Enemy's Chuck D have all come out in support of file-sharing technology. Their argument is that file sharing allows their music to reach a wider audience outside of the control of the record industry." (source)

File sharing is here to stay regardless of what decision is reached by Scalia and Ginsberg. We all have that IT geek friend who has movies on his PC a day after they are released in theaters and CD’s before they hit the shelves in Tower Records. It’s a fact of life and MGM and other big companies will have to find a way to work with it (the way Napster had to) instead of fighting it. Personally I take joy in seeing the record companies get screwed. How many albums have I bought over the years that had ONE good song on it…I will never have to buy a CD again for one or two good songs…
Hey Record companies...here’s a novel idea –find an artist that can actually produce 12 -15 GOOD songs and I will gladly buy the CD.

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