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Shredding Paper #17

Mel C

February 2004

We've got an interesting article on file sharing this issue, or as the media likes to call it, "ILLEGAL file sharing". Check out this sentence from a recent Associated Press report, "The 532 new defendants represent a tiny fraction of the estimated tens of millions of U.S. computer users who regularly download music illegally across the Internet..." ILLEGAL my ass! It's remarkable the way that powerful special interests can stigmatize perfectly legal and proper conduct in our society. How many times have you heard the news networks adopt the rhetoric of extremists by referring to women's health care facilities as "abortion clinics"? Americans must be the most gullible people on Earth. Any person, country, or nation can be effectively and quickly demonized by the media. I've seen a number of stories in the media lately where the "man in the street" is interviewed making statements about how they think downloading music on the internet is wrong because the artists don't make money off it. I've got news for you, 9 times out of 10 when you buy an album the artist doesn't see a penny from it. As for downloading files off the internet, that's what the internet is. You log on, and various text and graphic files, etc. are downloaded by your computer. Look at your browser's cache, there they are, copyrighted files you downloaded off the net. If it's legally or morally wrong then let's just shut it down.
Obviously it would serve numerous special interests if human progress and technology were to stop forever, leaving them with their present profit structure through eternity. Fortunately the world doesn't work that way. When photocopiers first came on the market copy shops had huge signs all over the place warning you that the FBI would get you if you made a copy of copyrighted materials, kind of like today's ridiculous, paranoid and false warnings that appear on your TV screen every time you play a DVD. The RIAA, the record industry association that represents a small minority of record labels, filed more than 500 file sharing related lawsuits in January 2004. What they are doing is to use the legal system to terrorize the public. Sure, sue 500 teenage kids and scare the rest, and their parents who the RIAA hopes will admonish their kids, "Don't download any files off the internet kids." as fuzzy as they may be on the details. Remember that any time you buy a release on one of RIAA labels you are supporting their harrassing lawsuits. The good news is that free music downloading is at an all time high. The RIAA has circulated press releases that their lawsuits have resulted in reduced file trading, but like a lot of what they say, it isn't true. They claim that a decline in file sharing last summer was proof of their effectiveness. The truth is that there is always a seasonal decline in music downloading in July and August because many students who use their school's fast internet connections to trade music are on break. So much for the RIAA disinformation campaign. It's likely that if all the libraries in the country were shut down, book publishers would actually sell more books, but I haven't seen a book publishers association start a public relations war against book sharing, or try to sue libraries out of existence. The majority of record labels support file sharing and have learned how to use it effectively to promote their releases, hopefully the rest will catch up soon.
Finally, I read that the band Phish is selling recordings of all their live concerts and donating the profits to a nonprofit group supporting music education for children. Maybe they should start by teaching the kids that Phish pretty much sucks. Hey kids, Dare To Say No To Phish. - Mel C

2004

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