Bill Spornitz on Thu, 20 Dec 2001 00:43:10 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Napsterisation of Everything

At 1:18 AM +0000 11/28/01, richard barbrook wrote:
>The Napsterisation of Everything: a review of John Alderman, Sonic Boom:
>Napster, P2P and the battle for the future of music, Fourth Estate, London
>Richard Barbrook


>Unlike earlier forms of youthful rebellion, peer-to-peer computing is a
>direct threat to the economics of the music industry. Despite the rapid
>changes in musical tastes over the decades, the fundamentals of its
>business structure have remained the same. Musicians are contracted to make
>recordings. Music is sold on bits of plastic to consumers. Copyright laws
>ensure that no one can distribute recordings without paying their owners.
>Everyone supposedly benefits from this arrangement. Fans are offered a wide
>choice of many different types of music. Musicians are able to earn a
>living - and a few can become seriously rich. Small companies can survive
>by selling niche styles of music. Large corporations can own profitable
>music companies as part of their multi-media empires. Having recuperated
>successive cultural revolutions, this business structure appeared 
>to >beimmutable.

There's another side to this debate that is conveniently overlooked.  
Even the American Federation of Musicians (the *Union*) comes out strongly
against file sharing, when it is not an understatement to say that the
unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted musical works is an integral part
of the multi-billion dollar live music industry.

In the ten years or so I played in the live *scene* I must have played
thousands of songs by other artists (what we call *covers*)  without any
effort to compensate copyright holders. It might be foolish of me to admit
to this, except that I am joined in this activity by millions of fellow
musicians. Indeed, a large percentage of these cases, band leaders insist
that arrangement specifics like sax solos be copied exactly from the

The song is a very powerful and efficient artifact. More than stopping
file trading, what these people are trying to do is, essentially, defeat
the overwhelming power of song. They will not succeed.


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