Eric Miller on 25 Jul 2000 18:23:24 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] RE: <nettime> Terror in Tune Town

hmm...interesting points you've made.  I almost completely disagree, but
they are interesting points.

In the end, I don't think this argument can hold up.  I think it partially
boils down to your statement about IP rights being a creation of the
borgeoise...I just can't buy that. (bad pun intended) Music/film/art is the
product of their work, of their labor, of their emotional and financial
investment.  I don't buy any argument that legitimizes self-serving behavior
by framing it as a class struggle issue.  Taking content without paying for
it certainly qualifies in my book.  Doesn't matter if you're a bona-fide
blue-collar member of the proletariat complete with union card and
oppressive bourgeoisie overlords...if you take what doesn't belong to you,
you're stealing.  

Same with the concept of Napster not being responsible for theft.  By
extension, the NRA argument doesn't do too well when you look at the
situation it creates.  Sure, inanimate guns don't kill people, but it sure
makes it a hell of a lot easier when you create an armed populace and a
culture of irresponsible permissiveness cloaked under the veil of "personal
liberties."  Key word there is irresponsible.  If you give people the tools
to steal, and tell them it's OK through convoluted arguments that say "what
costs the artists/companies money and time, you can have for free!" they're
going to swipe it without compunction.  Not exactly a warm n' fuzzy thing to
do to the industry, artists included.

I'm sorry, but the bottom line is IF YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT, IT ISN'T YOURS.
Artists invest their lives, and record companies invest money in their
product.  You can't justify or rationalize away the fact that widespread
_multipoint_ distribution of content without a quid pro quo is by
definition, distribution of stolen property.  Intellectual property.  It's
not about format, it's not about archiving your CDs for portability, it's
not about making personal's about the legitimization of a system
that allows people to take what doesn't belong to them.  It's not open
source or legitimately free content if the content owner (i.e., the artists
and record companies) doesn't give explicit permission for free repeated

There are grey areas.  Used CDs, for example...only the retailer and the
end-user benefits from that, and it does represent lost sales for the record
companies and artists.  But there is the critical difference in that there
is only ONE copy...the person who originally owned the CD no longer has
access to the music.  it's a one-to-one transaction.  You can't say the same
for a song you make available via Napster...if ten people download your Cibo
Matto album, that's eleven copies in existence.  Yours, and theirs.  And
while many people may eventually buy the album and compensate the artist,
many will be content to just play it back through their
computer/stereo/CD-ROM/MP3 player.  That's theft.

On another note, Jeff Carey (quite correctly) commented that most artists
don't make money off their recordings, and that touring is a bigger source
of revenue.  True, but that doesn't really change my position.  I don't see
that "well, they can still make money this way" justifies the "liberated
content" hijacking of another potential revenue source.

Okay, I actually should work while I'm at work, but this topic just bothers
me.  In the end, if no one can pursue their art without any means of
financial support, then artistic diversity will suffer.  


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