Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Will This Genie Ever Go Back In The Bottle?

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the analysis:-the-music-industry-wins-a-whopper dept.

News 278 was bloodied Friday. As of this writing, the online music service is trying to negotiate a settlement with RIAA. A U.S. District Court ruled Friday that the site's storage service violated copyright law. But the music-user rebellion sparked by this landmark technology is by no means over. The manner in which music is disseminated has been changed for good, whether record labels acknowledge it or not (and over the weekend, a few executives actually did). Without a settlement, the recording industry is in danger of blowing a historic opportunity to protect artists, make money, and capitalize on, rather than shun, the information distribution tools of the future. P.S. Who are the pirates? A record exec e-mails me this a.m. that it cost about 50 cents to make a CD, for which consumers pay $16.95. (Read more).

For several years now, the distribution of free music online has been evolving into a bitter, costly and signficant test of whether new information technologies will change the nature and meaning of copyright, or alter the ways in which culture and ideas have been owned, marketed and distributed. The Net has made possible, for better or worse, the free acquision of music and other kinds of intellectual and creative products.

MP3 technology -- a format which jumped from obscurity to ubiquity in 1999 -- has turned out to be revolutionary. Millions of people whose access to music was previously limited to radio and CDs suddenly had instant and free access to much of the music recorded in modern times. MP3 sparked a cultural and economic revolution that is just beginning to be understood.

An entire generation has grown up seeing the acquisition of music as a right. This generation has a voracious appetite for music, something that should please the makers of it. Industry executives and many artists, of course, see the way they satisfy that appetite as nothing more than a pervasive form of thievery.

A number of artists have bitterly complained that the downloading of music on sites like is simply piracy. They have criticized writers like me (with justification) for not highlighting artists' rights as well as those of music lovers. Friday's ruling by a federal judge against MP3 was the clearest and most powerful blow yet struck against the by-now deeply ingrained tradition, especially among younger music lovers, of acquiring vast music libraries for free. could face stunning penalties.

At issue is something complicated and important, something not taken into account, or even acknowledged, by the Federal court ruling. There is hardly anyone reading this who hasn't acquired some form of free intellectual property on the Net, from music to text to software. Artists definitely have a right to be paid for their work, but branding a whole generation of music fans thieves seems simplistic, even self-destructive.

The question now becomes political and cultural, as well as legal and technological. Judge Rakoff issued a startlingly brief order Friday holding "liable for copyright infringement." The suit, brought by RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America), a consortium of the world's largest record labels, seeks to shut down But over the weekend, some music industry officials, including Paul Vidich, an executive vice president for Time Warner, said RIAA wasn't trying to put out of business as much as force it to change.

The court found that had violated copyright law by creating an online database -- -- of 80,000 major label records. The ruling doesn't affect the use of MP3 compression technology (not owned by to make copies of music via the Net.

It follows a growing number of lawsuits -- some by recording artists like Metallica and Dr Dre -- against Napster. RIAA also has a suit pending against Napster in federal court. shares dropped sharply in late Nasdaq trading Friday afternoon.

As strong a victory for the music industry as Judge Rakoff's ruling sounded, it seemed both short-sighted and far from clear cut. MP3 has altered the music industry for good. Shutting down MP3 and Napster would hardly mark the end of the battle.

"The shame here," a dissident, savvy music industry executive said in a phone interview over the weekend, "is that the record labels could have embraced MP3 and Napster, rather than going to war against them. What they don't grasp is that while piracy issues have a lot of validity, Napster constituted a rebellion against monopolistic music industry practices and greed, as well as a copyright problem. Instead of reforming, and grasping a real chance to change, the industry simply used the most heavy-handed method in dealing with these issues. Those of us who know the Net know this ruling will last for about a week. Piracy issues aside, the industry has a full-blown rebellion on their hands. These kids are never going back to the old way of buying music. We need a new system that responds to them and really does protect artists."

There were hopeful signs over the weekend. Danny Goldberg, one of the industry's most enlightened execs, and chief executive of Artemis Records, an independent label that releases CD's and runs Internet radio and music subscription services, said of music-sharing: "It seems counterintuitive, but an increase in free downloads coincided with an increase in paid sales. Particularly among the young audience, the people who are most wired, the evidence is that it's bonding a new generation to music." Goldberg's comments suggest that at least some leaders in the music industry grasp that new transmission technologies could be good both for the music industry and for artists.

History suggests that once new technologies like MP3 and Napster exist, they will be used and replicated. Many music industry executives believe the recording artists would make more money, not less, if they embraced digital music-distribution technologies. When the record labels went after MP3, the industry triggered the Napster rebellion. Napster software, spreading wildly on the Web, allows MP3 users to share files. If suits against Napster are successful, why wouldn't yet another technology crop up? In fact, it already has, in the bumper crop of programs both client and server which basically treat the Internet as a searchable and vast remote filesystem.

Pretending otherwise doesn't protect the rights of artists, it simply sets them up to get ripped off forever, and needlessly politicizes the tradition of free music among younger consumers. Selling music more innovatively just might permit artists to get paid and let consumers keep their new-found ability to acquire more music for less money.

Brian Ploskina of quoted Gene Hoffman, chief executive of, an online MP3 store and showcase as likening the free music legal battles to prohibition, doomed efforts to restrict the sale of liquor. "In the 20's," he said, people made a lot of bathtub gin, but they don't do that today because they can buy it for $20." His well-taken point is that music-downloaders would probably pay for music too, if the prices were more affordable.

It was an apt analogy. The music industry and the Temperance movement both thought they could legislate the social tastes and desires of millions of Americans. Whether they have merits to their arguments or not, history says their task is impossible. Recent legal actions make it likely that key distribution points for both MP3 and Napster -- particularly universities and other institutions that till recently have allowed music distribution software on their servers -- will be shut down. Others will obviously emerge. The legal actions won't stop the proliferation of music-transmission software, or the epidemic resentment and anger at the way the greedy record labels operate. The music industry is in the odd position of winning one court ruling after another while alienating an entire generation of customers.

For years now, millions of music lovers have been acquiring diverse kinds of music for nothing, making music more popular than ever. In l999, the record industry posted an 8 percent growth in revenue -- from $13.7 billion in l998 to $14.6 billion in l999 -- while the number of audio and video units sold rose from l.12 billion to 1.16 billion, according to RIAA statistics. Many executives believe those numbers would have been higher if the record industry were using MP3 for sales and promotion. Hundreds of music-sharing sites exist all over the Net and Web besides MP3 and Napster, including ones which take advantage of instant-messaging systems and privately-built and run Web sites.

Do recording executives really believe that music fans will suddenly give up on acquiring diverse and numerous forms of music for free and go back to buying a handful of expensive CDs a few times a month? That wouldn't protect artist's rights or those of music lovers. This digital genie isn't going back into the bottle. Successful negotiatioins between and the music would be the sanest step yet in the music wars, and a healthy precedent for other businesses who sell intellectual property as well as artists.

Note from timothy: Thanks to twiin and other readers who sent word of Metallica's upcoming online chat tomorrow (2nd May 2000) as part of an ArtistDirect promotion, where you can tell them what you think directly. I quote: "Hold nothing back: this is Metallica, after all. They can take it."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Re:Music copyrights (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1099776)

Cars are expensive, but it doesn't make stealing them legal.

But you don't get what the digital information is all about. If I play along with your analogy, once one car were manufactured, there could be 10 billion copies of the car with no cost. So what would be the cost of the car?

The laws and ideas about actually existing material objects simply don't extend well to pure information.

Re:Theft (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1099777)

Dude.. The RIAA isn't trying to just stop the distribution of mp3's, it's trying to stop the mp3 format, period. was set up so that you could have access to your entire CD collection from anywhere in the world -- granted, the system was a little insecure (not much they could do about that, only thing more secure would be to have everyone who bought a CD to send in a photocopy of their recepit as proof-of-purchase, imagine the headaches involved with that), but the RIAA just opened up the doors for the squelching of mp3's in general.

Some of us have thousands of mp3s that we ripped from OUR OWN CD's. I carry 2 CD's with me to work, it makes it much easier than to carry 20 CD's -- each CD has around 10-11 full albums on it. If the RIAA had their way, I would be unable to do this at all. Remember all the litigations over VHS? Over Casette tapes? Right now, there's no law that's protecting people if they want to make an mp3 from music they own. That's why got burned.

Besides, in argument over mp3's being in circulation -- not all of us has the money to go buy EVERY album in existence if only there is one song on any given album they enjoy. With high prices (There's no way in hell I'm going to pay the $18/CD that any of the twec stores charge these days) that have been *constant* for the past 4-5 years, not everyone can go out and afford 50,000 cd's. Maybe you can, and if you can, you're lucky. For most of us, we'll try the music first.

Re:Okay, the cat is out of the bag (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1099778)

OK why are in you the tech industry, or do what you do for a living? Would you do it for 1/10 of what you get paid now?

Maybe you would , but you know what? I could not manage to support my family if I was only making 1/10 of what I make now (of course if I had no family probably I would :).

I hate it when people are saying fuck the artists, they should just work harder and make their money from concerts and tshirt sales, while
giving they songs away for free or a buck a pop on the internet. Chances are they cannot do this themselves and still take the time out to be artists.

Think of all the techies who love what they did and started and manage their own businesses. Go talk to them. How many of them actually have the time to still do the programming and "fun" stuff they love and what attracted them to this industry? Almost none. How did they get their initial capitial? How many of them went bust?
Do you wanna become a management type?
Why should an Artist have to do so to be succesful?

Now try to figure out how these artists are going to start from nothing. How are the going to get the massive influx of cash needed to set up servers and hire techies to deliver their music, how are they going to set up concerts, put together touring infrastructure. They are not lucky enought to have the "venture capitalists" like the tech industry. Most importantly how the hell are they going to have time to write good music if they are spending all their time with accounting, managing, arranging, booking, etc... Damn straight that they will probably be too tired to even write or compose anything.

Unless some third party fronts the cash for an initial pressing (or server setup etc...)and promotion of a group it is extremely unlikey that they will ever go anywhere.

Really folks its the artists your screwing more then anybody else when you possess MP3's you don't own.

cheers. X

Theft? Crime? Speeding? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1099779)

OK, I'm really sick of this. Yes MP3's enable "theft", actually unauthorized copying, so what. So do Xerox machines. So do personal computers. Digital is pretty much infinately reproducable, there is nothing you can do about it. As far as the against the law stuff goes, have you exceeded the speed limit lately? Speeding is illegal. It is also very easy to build vehicles that make exceeding the speed limit impossible, has it happened? No. Will it happen? Yeah right. Does excessive speed contribute to deaths? Yes. Does copying mp3's kill? Maim? Hurt? Inconvenience? Appearantly its a bigger crime. The money grubbing megacorps continue to try to control their customers. (Ever notice they never use that word? We're consumers to them.) Here's the simple fact: If you want to maintain control of your "intellectual property", in a age where digital reproduction is so easy and widespread, don't broadcast it in any form, CD's etc included. Once its out there its out. Intellectual property. Please. How many science fiction writers have had their concepts and visions made real? Maybe they should sue and stop the bloody world.

Re:In the end it isn't about Theft (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1099780)

And I went through this whole post without bashing Katz.

Don't worry. We all have our off days. Try again, I'm sure you can do better :-}

Turn it around. (1)

Joseph Vigneau (514) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099784)

Obviously, the 'genie' can never be put back into the bottle, no matter what the RIAA decides to attack this week. The MPAA had better take notice, because this will happen to them as prices for bandwidth and storage decreases.

I'd like to turn this around on you: got started on the premise that they would bring unknown acts to the forefront of the Internet-using audience. I've found some really good local music via However, can any artist currently claim they got their Big Break from them? Probably not.

Did they deserve to get smacked by the RIAA? Absolutely. But that topic has been bashed to death, given recent events.

So, if you don't like the RIAA stance on this, don't support them by buying albums protected by them! Go to, look up the local listings, and get at some really good, local music, and support them. They list a very wide variety of music, although the 'barrier of entry' can be too low.. [ Note: Bloops and bleeps from your Casio keyboard does *not* necessarily make you an "artist".. :^) ]

It's the distribution, stupid! (1)

Phaid (938) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099788)

OK here's the thing -- the suit is against the part of -- -- that allows people to download mp3's of music they can "prove" that they own. The reason the RIAA sued this part of's business -- and only this part, as far as the ruling is concerned -- is that in order for to do this, they had to make and then distribute copies of copyrighted works. Despite the very good intentions of mymp3, I'm not sure that they really have much of a legal leg to stand on. Even taking fair use into account, *you* as the purchaser have a limited right to make copies for yourself etc, but I'm not sure you can argue that the seller does.

It's true that the artists whose CDs are sold through have agreed to this, but others haven't and those are the ones the suit concerns.

At any rate, here's the real, sinister, bad reason for this suit and why the RIAA is so hot and bothered about It's about distribution. allows "the little guy" artists to sell their music at a low cost and with a lot of exposure. The transactions that occur, be they the buying of MP3s or of CDs, are done between the buyer,, and the artists, without the involvement of the RIAA's companies. There's little overhead and less greed than at the RIAA's members, which is why the typical CD from is priced around the $5 to $8 range (I've bought a lot of them and I love it). So between the ability to sample the music by downloading the free mp3's, and getting a good deal on CDs, and allowing artists to get a decent cut of the sale prices, has a really attractive business model for all concerned. And this is what the RIAA really hates, and legally there's nothing they can really do about it. But the MyMP3 suit gives them a chance to hurt and possibly get rid of it as a legitimate competitor. And so the war continues.

Happy Beltaine!

The "Big Break" mentality (1)

richieb (3277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099792)

I'd like to turn this around on you: got started on the premise that they would bring unknown acts to the forefront of the Internet-using audience. I've found some really good local music via However, can any artist currently claim they got their Big Break from them? Probably not.

So what! I dearly hope that the idea of a "big break" and "getting really rich from one song" goes away. What we want is for artists to be able to make a good living producing the music they want, rather than what some record exec thinks will appeal to most people and result in largest profit.

The Internet and MP3s give the artists a chance to enlarge their audience and make more money as a result. If their audience is large enough, they will be able to make a living from playing music.

So, if you don't like the RIAA stance on this, don't support them by buying albums protected by them!

I don't (or nearly so, since they own so much stuff). I buy CD from MP3.COM and from a lot of small independent labels. Mostly because the music I like (jazz and blues) never makes it to MTV or commercial radio.


Can't help on the first, but I promise.. (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099798)

...the second will happen.

Re:We Need Micropayments (1)

mjj12 (10449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099808)

What we need is this. (1) A massive reduction in the cost of music for consumers (2) An increase in the income that artists receive for music. What we do not need is middle men who receive the vast majority of the money paid by consumers. As it is, I pay $16 for a CD, the artist receives maybe $1, the retailer receives maybe $5 and the record company receives maybe $10. If I pay $2 and the artist receives $2, both the artist and I are much better off than now. (If I then spend my other $14 on music from other artists, artists in general are *much* better off than now). At this point in technological development, the record companies perform no useful function. I want to see the system of intellectual property rights that allows the record companies to screw both consumers and artists to be wiped out, and the record companies themselves to be eliminated from the face of the earth. Yes, new business models need to come into existence so that artists are compensated, but I have little doubt that they will, as the potential gains for both artists and consumers are so great. (Micropayments are probably part of the solution). What we need is a little free space in which new business models can evolve. What we do not need is a pile of overrestrictive copyright laws designed to maintain an outdated status quo and to maintain the rights of a bunch of parasitical companies.

Its not about the music (1)

thud (11963) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099809)

This isn't about music. Music recordings represented as 1's and 0's have been around for years. This isn't about mp3's. mp3 is just a file format and it is destined to be outdated very soon and replaced with something even better. This isn't about copyright either.

This is really about a complete shift of power from the few to the many.

Information is power. He who controls the information has power. Even with today's internet where the average person has a louder voice then at any time in the history of mankind, a small group still controls access to the information. With some many people talking at once, its hard to find what you are looking for. Many of us rely on other's to silence all but what we are trying to find. It doesn't matter where the content ultimately resides if you have to go through a centrally controlled choke point, the information filter, the search engine.

The information internet is not a web, its more like a pyramid. No matter where you happen to be, in the quest for information, you will eventually travel up to the top of the pyramid to one of the search engines. It then filters out all but what it wants you to see. You have no way of knowing what you're missing.

Now we have napster and its clones. The central information filter has been removed from the equation. Instead of the large centralized indexes, you have small distributed indexes.

Like most countries, US law works only because of the effectiveness of individual court cases. If screws up, you sue them and the problem is solved. 1 case. 1 solution. Now distribute across 10,000 people in 100 countries. 1 case. 1 solution. 9,999 to go.

By removing centralized control of information, you are also removing centralized responsibility for that information. The mere existence of software like napster in some ways erodes the fundamental balance of power in business, government, and law.

Do you think anyone is going to stand for this? Do you think anyone is going to stand for you thinking for yourself? The government protects you from yourself. Businesses tell you what you want and what you don't want. Do you think they will sit by and let you turn them off? This is just the beginning, possibly, of the end.

Has there ever been a tale of government or corporate oppression that didn't start with people thinking for themselves?

Yes (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099810)

"No"? What kind of topic is that?? If you're going to make a one-word topic, at least be an optimist and call it "yes" ;-)

Re:Katz you THIEF, give us our comments back! (1)

hollow_man (24346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099819)

Maybe rather than cowardly post drivel like that anonymously you ought to put your name on it?
It's amazing how many people here are in favour of the idea of free speech and the likes but only if it applied to everyone but Jon Katz.
I don't like you trolls here but do you see me post the crap you do?

Full Time Idiot and Miserable Sod

Re:We Need Micropayments (1)

Smallest (26153) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099821)

We need to listen to a track, then click a button to send 50 cents or a dollar to the artist (or even the record label). Tracks need to be spun off from albums ; I won't pay $20 to buy an album with one or two tracks on it that I want, but I will pay $1 a pop for them.


if people would really pay to listen to a song or two, there would be a huge demand for (and therefore a better selection of) CD singles. but there is no such demand.


Re:Online too late.. (1)

pmc (40532) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099838)

Very odd - It was definitely there. Strange that.

Napster Will Win (1)

SecretAsianMan (45389) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099842)


Napster has its disclaimer, basically "We provide this as a tool for sharing music legally, and if you use it in other ways, we're not responsible.". It's just like a "use at your own risk" sign at a pool or playground. When the Big Bad Companies drag Napster into court, it seems to me that the Napster people only need to give the judge a copy of their disclaimer and walk out.

Re:Yes (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099843)

It was an answer to the question posed by Katz at the top of the page.

Re:Theft (1)

provolt (54870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099845)

Besides, in argument over mp3's being in circulation -- not all of us has the money to go buy EVERY album in existence if only there is one song on any given album they enjoy. With high prices (There's no way in hell I'm going to pay the $18/CD that any of the twec stores charge these days) that have been *constant* for the past 4-5 years, not everyone can go out and afford 50,000 cd's. Maybe you can, and if you can, you're lucky. For most of us, we'll try the music first.

1) Just becase you can't afford it, doesn't mean you have the right to steal it. I can't afford to buy a new BMW, but that doesn't give me the right to steal one from the car dealship.

2) If the high prices have been constant for 4-5 years that's amazing. Inflation says they should have gone up in price. CD's are like computers where the technology becomes obsolete.

3) Why do you need 50,000 songs? Assuming each song is 4 minutes long, you would have 138.89 days of music to listen to. If you listen to that music for 8 hours a day (which I would doubt that you do), it would take 1111 days to listen to it all. That's over 3 years of listening to music without hearing the same song twice. For that much music, a lot of people had to put in a lot of time. You don't *deserve* to hear that for free.


Not "stealing". Not "piracy" (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099851)

But what term should be used for illegally copying copyrighted material?

For example, if I copy your column up there and post it on my website, what do you call what I did?

That is a serious question.

But my opinion:

People like to obsess over what things are called. "Hacker" vs. "Cracker". "Stealing" vs. ?. I think that these arguments fundamentally misses the way languages change. The definition of a word is a sort of language-space consensus. Trying to fight that consensus is like holding back the tide. If people call the illegal copy "Piracy", that will be the definition. Whether that word has bad, good, or indifferent connotations depends entirely on how people feel about the act it defines.

Re:No (1)

ravrazor (69324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099855)

here i go, replying to a signal11 post...sigh.

the main issue here is theft...the fact is music is not like software. too many people, katz included, are viewing music as a commodity. and yes, that's the way it's been fed to people, but at the same time, there's a reason why artists create albums. well-crafted songs are one thing, but an album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement. by pirating mp3s, ppl create a situation that debases all artists, bringing (insert your favorite band here) down to the level of a sisqo or christina aguilera.

just because the law can't keep up with looters during a riot, doesn't mean that guy carrying away a tv on his shoulder is remotely morally or ethically right to do so.

New Distribution Methods (1)

BtyNtChPw (70633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099856)

The recording industry needs to come up with a new method for distributing/sharing copyrighted material. Rather than kill off sites or programs that distribute copyrighted material they should use it to their advantage. Distributing things over the internet has a much lower cost than producing physical media which would result in a much lower cost to consumers. You do however need to preform the following things if artitist are going to make their money and consumers will benifit

  1. Prevent any copying of material that would be a copyright infrigement.
  2. Make it very easy to lend songs, books, movies etc... to your friends in a way that ensures you lose your lisence until the media is lent back or some amount of time elapses. Same as lending your friend a physical book or movie.
  3. Reduce the cost of media.
The concept of having a licence and what it entitles you to is the same, but the method of distribution, sharing, and price must be changed.

Re:Not the issue here.. (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099858)

Hm. Is this as beneficial for artists who are already well-known, and thus don't need the extra publicity that a recent starter could use?

A listener might become a new fan of a novice band by hearing one of their singles via a subscription service, but that may be largely because they're new. It's unclear to me that more established artists, whose styles and competencies are already widely known, benefit when their music propagates through the same channels.

Re:ending the piracy (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099859)

Deserve? As much as people are willing to pay them.

Clearly, sufficient quantities of people are willing to pay sufficient amounts of money to encourage rather extravagant lifestyles. As long as that money is taken with the payer's consent for services and products duly (and legally) rendered, what's the problem?

Would you say it's unjust that many techies coming out of college with a B.S. in C.S. get offers of $70K+, and some can plausibly dream of retiring by 30?

Re:Why not try to turn things around? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099860)

Will their contracts permit this? I don't follow the music world (with an AM/FM clock/radio being my sole source of music -- and that normally for '60s or '70s music...), but my suspicion would be that most publishing firms don't appreciate their artists breaching contracts.

Of course, if Metallica or Dr. Dre publishes independently, then they're probably free to make downloads freely available on Wednesdays with prime-number Julian-calendar dates to people who ride buses, if they choose.

Re:Of course... (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099861)

Part of it probably does have to do with something you mentioned -- "music clubs". Odds are, much of the CDs they get are bought at a lower rate than retail, but in bulk. In turn, the clubs expect people to get hooked.

Promotional costs may also go elsewhere. Any form of advertising is going to cost $. In addition, selling albums might subsidize singles... as well as albums that fail, in terms of sales.

And few are the authors who may demand generous terms, such as Stephen King, in constrast to, say, all-boy bands precisely calculated to capitalize on the particular tastes and fiscal imprudence of female preteens.

Is the main obstacle micropayments? (1)

verin (74429) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099867)

One of the main reasons I like mp3's is because I
can have a large variety of songs, in large amounts, readily available for me on my hard drive. It's like our own personal juke box, but instead of a few songs we like, we like all of them because we chose them.

I think the main problem is micropayments. An exec looks at how much a single song is worth, a buck (or two for the first 6 months of release or
so), and can't figure out a way to sell them. A buck charge to a credit card would get eaten up in fees.

What I'm wondering is why no music publisher has set up a site selling their songs in groups of 10-20. You download 10 songs, but when you want the 11th, you have to pay for the first 10. That way they can make everybody happy. (by seeming to give away a few songs, but being able to charge for an 'album' worth at a time to those who want more)

mp3's and other suchlike (1)

Byzantine (85549) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099873)

I hate to sound like I'm just saying "me too!" or something like that, but what Jon has outlined here is very true. For better or for worse, Napster and have changed the way that music is handled and distributed and listened to. Completely aside from the sheer impossibility of containing the flow of illegal mp3's, it would be a good business decision for the music industry to actively support them and other forms of downloadable music. Nine times out of ten, when I buy a CD, there's just one or two songs that I simply can't stand. Industry-approved downloads would mean I can get the songs I like--and do it legally. (And I LIKE doing things legally; I have no wish to be arrested.) I seriously doubt that this will in any way stop record companies from selling albums--Jon cited the MPAA's own figures that revenue has increased during the last year. And even if everybody eventually gets portable mp3 players--well, people still use cassette tapes for lots of things.

On the gift culture (1)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099876)

For those of you that havn't read them, here is a nice little link to ESR's page with his essays. Signal11's gift culture idea is straight from these essays.

Here ya go. []

I don't agree with everything that ESR says, but on the whole it is well thought out and his writing style is more or less readable.

Rami James
Pixel Pusher
ALST R&D Center, IL

Re:ending the piracy (1)

adric (91323) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099877)

10 songs should not cost $20, or even $10.
Especially if seven of the songs suck (and they usually do)!

The artists have nothing to loose. (1)

lupine (100665) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099880)

Back in the day when when we used bulky and inneficient media to store music the cost of producing and distributing an album was quite high. Record contracts were negotiated with this in mind and the artists were left with a fairly small chunk of the the revenue. When CDs were released and manufacturing was ramped up the cost of production dropped to pennies.

Record contracts did not evolve to reflect this change in the industry and album prices actually rose. Artists actually get about 1-2% of the price you pay for a CD. Artists can make much more monry touring than selling CDs and only those who make the leap to superstardom top 40 are actually well compensated. The vast majority struggle to get by while the record labels get fat.

The new free music economy does not hurt the artists so much as it hurts the labels. Music distribution as we know it is outdated. If the artists sold music for $1/album on large fast internet servers they would make more money than they do today. The artists would be fairly compensated, the fans would get lots of cheap music and the recoring industry would either lower prices or go out of business.

The industry is already dead, it just doesnt know it yet.

Re:We Need Micropayments (1)

sredding (107116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099884)

You can pay Metallica right now [] if you feel guilty.

I'm rather surprised by Metallica's reaction to MP3 and Napster. Before their release of S&M, they had the entire album streaming online for free. IMHO, it was a good example of using the current technology to promote their work.

Somehow, I expected them to be a bit more open-minded about the whole process. Metallica just might have the clout to affect real change in the music industry and to possibly bring about a new business model. I wish they would use it instead of acting on the behalf of the RIAA.

I hope that bands such as Limp Bizkit and Offspring are just the first of many that have the courage to embrace the genie. If they can remain financially successful while doing so, I'm almost certain that more will follow.

Re:No, not what I am saying.. (1)

sredding (107116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099885)

The debate kind of reminds me of those about legalization of drugs. We can't stop it, kids are going to do it anyway, why not just make it legal?

It is legal... caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, ephedrine, etc.

Why feel sorry for Metallica? (1)

rombouts (111191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099886)

Yes, there are a lot of difficult issues here. But to me, Metallica suing Napster is only adding fuel to the fire. IMO, Metallica music is terrible, but as a huge selling act they must make literally millions every year. And we are supposed to feel sorry for them? Are they suing Napster because they are afriad they will only get five million instead of six million in royalties this year? Most of us have to work hard for our money, and are more likely to see groupers than groupies. I don't want to steal from people who need it, but every time someone from the music business says "We want to protect the rights of artists" what it really means is "We want to make sure we can keep selling CD's at the artificially inflated price of $15" I live in L.A. and know many hopeful musicians. Believe me, the music business (with some exceptions) is now just one more cog of huge multi-national conglomerates. They are looking for the next Ricky Martin or Britney Spears, or whatever other fad seems current at the time. I am willing to pay for music, but why should maybe 90% of the cost of a CD go to various middlepeople? I look forward to a day when it will be common to download music directly from musicians, rather than being limited to what CD's some executive has decided will sell 10,000 copies or more per year. Also, there is a lot of old music that can be re-released digitally since there will not be the cost of CD production and distribution to worry about. Tom Rombouts, Torrance, CA

Are you really going to PAY for mp3s? (1)

mr.nobody (113509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099888)

Warning: Disjointed and hastily written rant below.

I am really sick of the idiotic argument that usually runs something along these lines: If the record companies would just change their marketing and/or stance on MP3s, then the music buying public would gladly pay for MP3s.

There just isn't a nice way to say it: This argument is stupid. Period.

Mr. Katz asks if the genie is out of the bottle. Yes, its out of the bottle, and the genie is free. Do you think that people are going to now start paying for the genie? Answer: NO!

Is not the fact the Linux is free one of the chief arguments of its supporters? What about GPL'd software? Did not Netscape have a stranglehold on the web browser market once they released it for free?

People are not going to pay for something they got originally as free. That's just the way people are. Why is this concept so hard for everyone to grasp?

Futility (1)

Satsuki Yatoji (124042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099897)

The people trying to stop the trade of mp3's are going to have about as much luck as someone trying to save the Titanic with a bucket brigade. It's such a huge thing that apart from Nazi-like tactics, it won't even be dented.

Part of me doesn't understand the war, because I have never seen or even heard of anyone going out and downloading an entire album of songs just so they could avoid paying for it. I myself download only music that I can't find, things that are much too rare or obscure to go buy at the nearest used CD store, or things I've been wary of buying because of mixed reviews. One or two songs to judge the album by.

The record companies shouldn't be the ones complaining. They're not going to lose out, because there's no way they can with the kind of money they rake in. It's kind of sad, because the real losers in the war are the artists themselves. But people might feel better about buying CD's instead of pirating music if they didn't cost 20 bucks a pop. I know I would.

We Need Micropayments (1)

MightyTribble (126109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099900)

We need to listen to a track, then click a button to send 50 cents or a dollar to the artist (or even the record label). Tracks need to be spun off from albums ; I won't pay $20 to buy an album with one or two tracks on it that I want, but I will pay $1 a pop for them.

Sites that let you 'build your own' CD are a step in the right direction, but the major labels so far have refused to let their artist's work appear on them, probably out of fear that it would reduce album sales, which are, after all, the traditional lifeblood of the labels.

The technology for micropayments already exists. I know I'd pay $1 a track to build my own CD online, then have it mailed to me, providing the track library was large enough. You could even (shock, horror) do it with downloadable MP3s...after all, who here doesn't know how to rip a track from a CD? ;-)

The record companies could do this themselves. They own the libraries, they have the money to develop the web tools and production lines. They'd gain *valuable* demographics...the list goes on. All they'd lose would be a reliance on album sales as the be-all and end-all metric of the industry.

I guess it's easier to litigate than inovate. After all, they already have thousands of lawyers on their books, and all the good web designers are working for the indies...;-)

Old Problem (1)

Hephaestus_Lee (135156) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099910)

This 'piracy' as presented by the music industry is an old problem. Mix tapes and concert boot legs are old buisness. They just never got the attention of mp3's since they weren't easy to mass distribute. Mix tapes and other bootlegs often accomplished two things.

1) Help people collect rare, hard to find, and out of print material. Obviously to say that this hurts artists is bs.

2) Introduce people to new bands and new types of music. Liking the new music they go out and buy things by albums. Obviously this is actually a boon to artists and record companies.

mp3's do two similiar things. Most of what I and the people I deal with have small mp3 collections. These are primarily songs we own the album for, plan to buy the album for or can't find on albums. How this hurts anybody is lost on me.

What's a Thief (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099920)

I think that people need to think about what copyright law really means- it is a relatively new anomoly of the modern age, something that has exploded in the last hundred years. Human history goes back many thousands. What does it really mean to 'own' something? Can we really 'own' anything? What would Jesus or Buddah have thought about this situation? My point is that there is a deep and very significant question that has been brought to light by the internet, and we need to take off our 21 century dollar-bill blinders to really address them.

I am looking for an objective discussion, not ludditical(if there is such a word!)

Re:Can't help on the first, but I promise.. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099924)

(Is this really Jon Katz?)

Anyway, there were THREE things said:

  1. MP3s would go away
  2. Columbine never happened
  3. Jon Katz dies

While the THIRD event is likely to happen sometime in the future, the SECOND event is impossible.

Re:Who is Katz to talk about theft? (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099925)

<technicallity>The book was made by some people at Slashdot; for contractual reasons, Jon Katz couldn't publish something like it. It's just his articles and Slashdot readers comments. Katz actually has nothing to do with the books creation, but his name is on it.</technicallity>

Hmm, I wonder why Katz isn't mad that they stole his articles? Maybe he should be just as pissed!

Oh, wait, right. They asked him. Maybe next time they'll ask the posters?

(Of course, if post anonymously, you can't expect to retain ownership of the comment!)

Re:Not the issue here.. (1)

HiQ (159108) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099928)

I don't think that I am fighting the wrong fight here!

Instead of whining and complaining, just try to set up your own record company, and try to sell your music in another way than CD's. I think that if you would try that, your company wouldn't last very long, because everybody would be copying and stealing your music. You just try to think of a way to distribute music AND make (some) money at the same time (not the same amount as the big record companies, those b*astards make way to much money).
How to make a sig
without having an idea

Re:Theft (1)

lizardboy (160143) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099931)

Actually selling recorded music has only been around for little over a hundred years. Before that artist only got paid for performing. The reason people are into music so much now is becasue of the way they can access the music. Access has thus lead to learning about new music that then leads to purchasing of something be it tickets to a show or a record. There is a reason people steal the lack of funds. I know this from personal experience. Why would anyone shell out $20 to see if they might like a cd form someone the have no clue about. Or look them up on the net and listen. THIS has lead me to purchase more CDs then I ever would have. lizard boy

Re:Okay, the cat is out of the bag (1)

lizardboy (160143) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099932)

Okay mister fucking clueless. is the startup venture capitalists. They do help. I personaly didn't like the layout of there site so I found other sources. I am in the tech industry but don't make alot of money. I can setup a hell of alot for local bands in my area with little cash up front. For under a hundred bucks we burn CDs with nice printed covers. They sell them at shows for a few bucks and make some extra cash. They tell everyone at the show to goto their website and download what they like. Plus they post to all the larger type sites and see people the never even heard of them start calling to buy full CDs and ask were the can see them play. It can be done and is being done. So when you have a clue about something go help a local band that needs alittle tech experience. Its fun.

Has anyone heard of changing market forces? (1)

Venyce (161118) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099933)

It may seem unimportant, but once upon a time, artists had no protection at all. They wrote a song and sang it in a pub for whatever the innkeeper would pay and the audience would tip. Such was the life of a singer. His songs might be heard and sang elsewhere by other singers who would make money on songs they did not write.

I'll bet that pissed of the original writer. Or maybe it didn't. Maybe he was flattered that other's liked his music so much that it spread. I don't know.

I do know that protections came about because some people did not like that their art was imitated/copied. So here we are today, with artists enjoying a lot of protection.

Things are changing again. I don't recall anything in the constitution that ensures a persons right to make money. If the music industry does not adapt to the changing market for music, why should I care if they lose money? Companies rise and fall daily on the changing marketplace. Just because it's the way it's been for a few decades does not mean that's the way it should always be. So they try to pass laws that force the marketplace to remain the same, to protect their pocketbooks. Scarey that there are people in here cheering legislative attempts to control progress.

Once upon a time, alluminum was very expensive. Very expensive, because it cost a small fortune to produce the required temperatures to needed to extract it from the ore. Then came cheap and powerful electricity. With it came electric furnaces that could heat the ore to required temperatures all day long for cheap. So we have alluminum cans everywhere and the tin can makers were probably pretty pissed. Maybe they tried to get laws passed to protect their industry, but we can all be thankful any such attempt failed.

Professional hair stylists got tired of not making any money cause anybody could cut and style hair in their living room and make money on it by charging much less the the professional, school attending stylists who had shops. So they got laws passed that say you have to be schooled and licensed to cut hair. Result? If you cut hair at your house without a license for money, you can be arrested for breaking the "law". Such people are criminals. Of course, so are people who speed or throw cigarette butts out the window. They cite all kinds of reasons why this is good for everybody, but it's all about protecting their little financial world. Money. That's it.

Lars complaining about how napster types are trading his "Art" likes it's a commodity pissed him off. Of course he fails to mention that the industry sells it like a commodity on a daily basis. He complained about the pictures that are taken of the band that is part of their art. And their being traded without him making any money on the deal. So he is pissed off about money, and his perceived loss of revenue.

My point is, that it is not a god given right to make money on anything. Has anybody heard of supply and demand? You can buy dirt if you want, but you can also head out the forest and fill your truck for free somewhere in your state. You pay for convenience and quality. I buy CD's. Not for convenience. MP3's are convenient. I buy CD's for quality.

I make my living as a computer sysadmin. Lots of folks out there who are smart with computers that are not making money doing it or not making as much as I do. Well I had to work to get where I am and I have to work to stay here. I also have to change as times change if I want to continue to make money. And if Unix suddenly goes away and Bill gets NT to take over, I'll have to change or find another line of work.

But no, wait. I'll just sue that I'm being robbed of my livelyhood by and uncaring, changing market...

Huh? (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099937)

You think that just because it's not a solid object, it's suddenly "intellectual property"??

Uh, no, thats how the law sees it.

Go back to square one and figure out what you're talking about.

Re:Theft (1)

kickabear (173514) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099940)

"The music suffers, but the music business thrives." -- Paul Simon, The Rhythm of the Saints

It's simple (1)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099941)

People are tired of the bullsh!t of the record industry, and are finally able to fight back. I know people who are connected with this industry, and they're all worried about being screwed by the big labels. However, now we have MP3, digital recording, and studios that can be built on shoestring budgets, the fact that the big labels are about to be cut out of the loop scares them.
So what happens is, they take a company that, for the most part, takes small bands and gives them a soapbox, and tries to run them into the ground. What'll happen next is probably the same thing they've done to every threat they've seen so far: kill it, or bastardize it so that they can make money off of it. Hopefully, although at this point it seems unlikely, is that will stay alive, that this starts the downward spiral of the big labels, and this is just the last real battle. However, what the action probably is is just a squirmish, and the big fight is yet to come. At this point, it even seems possible that the big labels may even cause a recession just to keep their monopoly on the music industry a few years longer

Re:Theft (1)

mbaker (176346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099947)

Actually, you're slightly incorrect.
Musicians used to make money, also, by selling the sheet music that they composed.

Somewhat unrelated, music stores attempt to compensate for the great unkown of the content of CDs, by providing boots for listening to a few seconds of various songs. Unfortunately, this seems limited to music you'd hear on the radio anyway, but it's a step in the right direction.

Re:uh.. maybe read the column? (1)

mbaker (176346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099948)

Though I won't add anything of importance to the statements already made to this, I'd like to add my support to what they've said.

Your article didn't talk at all about the effects on, but rather how the RIAA is uses a broken model and only hurt themselves by asking the courts to enforce the laws regarding their intellectual property rights.

And then you attempt to claim otherwise, and just make an ass out of yourself. I'd say that's fairly rude.

Re:uh.. maybe read the column? (1)

mbaker (176346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099949)

Though I won't add anything of importance to the statements already made to this, I'd like to add my support to what they've said.

Your article didn't talk at all about the effects on, but rather how the RIAA uses a broken model and only hurt themselves by asking the courts to enforce the laws regarding their intellectual property rights.

And then you attempt to claim otherwise, and just make an ass out of yourself. I'd say that's fairly rude.

The ruling had minimal relevance to mp3. (1)

mbaker (176346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099950)

The lawsuit wasn't over the use of mp3s, or's usual mp3 distribution system, but rather over their 'broadcasting' of copyrighted music, based upon their CD authentication scheme.

This case has no real impact on the use of mp3 as a format for the distribution of music, nor will any other. The RIAA may dislike the entire concept of music distribution without their cut, but their real beef is with the proliferation of their property, without compensation.

Regardless of whether or not one believes the recording industry deserves to earn a living, they're legally entitled to. And just because it's easy to steal their intellectual property, doesn't somehow make the industry an "obsolete business model" or whatever other nonsense people use to rationalize the theft.

In the future increasingly more artists may go their own way with online music distribution, and then perhaps use their profits to distribute on CD, tape, or whatever else, themselves. They may even form loose co-ops to cut costs. Of course it may not splinter like this, and we'll be stuck with the giant corporations we have today.

Generally speaking, it would seem better to instead of using thievery and unrealistically looking to end intellectual property, to promote the distribution of music by individual artists, or small artist co-ops, or public domain music.
Instead of saying that "most music is crap" and not worth my money" to rationalize theft, go out and construct or support your preferred model.

Attempting to deny the recording industry of their ability to function seems unrealistic and rather unjust, even if they are yet another evil and stupid end result of U.S. economics.

Why not try to turn things around? (1)

perpetuaman (178164) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099954)

It may be too late for Metallica and Dre to do this, but why not try to take advantage of this situation by gaining fans without losing money (sounds a bit simple, huh?). For example, if Metallica would have reacted differently a while ago, maybe all their fans wouldn't be so pissed off at them right now, and they'd still be "making money" for their music. Instead of doing the obvious negative thing (sueing Napster), why not spend all those legal fees and time making your Website better fot the fans, and offering your album online for download (not free, but available). Maybe hand out some free bootlegs if users bought your album online. Give users a "certificate" for a free t-shirt if they buy the album online. Promote LEGAL use of MP3 rather than crucify illegal use of it.

By not using their brains on this one, they've lost countless amounts of money on disgusted former fans never wanting to buy another album again, along with all kinds of legal fees and wasted time. The money's out there, guys; it's just a matter of pleasing your fans enough to get it from them. Don't spout a bunch of crap about "art" and nonsense like that. I realize you have to get paid for what you do; it's a fact of life. But the "old school" days of being paid to physically listen to CD's (or music of any format) are OVER. Figure out some other ways to get paid for what you do these days, and sit back and make your music. But for God's sake, keep your fan's happy. They're all you've got (and they're beginning to dwindle...).

Timeframe (1)

DreIsGay (179068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099957)

MP3 technology -- a format which jumped from obscurity to ubiquity in 1999 -- was has turned out to be revolutionary. 1999?!? MP3's were huge on irc, not to mention the sites,, etc. that were established WAY before 1999. Winamp has been out for what, over 5 years? How can you possibly say it was 'obscure' before then?

Thats it 4 me ... (1)

amanbh (180310) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099960)

... I just recently read the posts about banning of and this article has only helped fuel my fire
Thats it 4 me...
good bye CD's
... goodbye copyrights, lefts and wrongs

Say hi to MP3-CD players


Napster & (1)

Deeter (180318) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099961)

Sorry, I realise this goes on for a while: It took me a while to figure out what the deal was with these suits. I mean, were I a record executive interested in going after infringment of intellectual property rights, I would go after a few of the people on Napster who had a few gigs of MP3s online. As the people who are storing the MP3s are clearly in the wrong(legally) you could nail a few of them to the wall to warn others off.

However, they chose to go after the distributors, where the law is much more ambigious. I couldn't figure out why they did this until I realised, they basically could give a fsck about pirate MP3s. They're really no differant from when my sister makes a mix tape of her favorite britany spears crap to give to her friends, which has been going on forever.

What they do care quite a lot about, however, is the fact that MP3s, and moreover digital distribution represent the last link in the chain from musician to consumer. Cheap electronics have made it possible to set up a studio for 1/100th of what it used to cost. Musicians I know have cut CDs with only a day or so of commerical studio time, because most of what they need they have at home. This kills the recording industry's ability to control the creative end.

What they're left with is the production and distribution end, and the final genesis of the revolution that and Napster have started would be a set of competing online services providing for pay songs online. Moreover, the fact that the Internet lowers cost of information makes advertising less important. This leaves the recording industry in a bad position, and they are acutely aware of it.

They can't tell musicians not to buy cheap recording equipment, and they can't tell consumers that the only thing they can buy is CDs. So they have to take a page from the Microsoft playbook and attempt to keep the distribution protocols proprietary. Looking back at technologies like DAT and to a lesser extent CDRs (which they're still pushing to have a tax on) they have only very rarely gone after anyone who was actually infringing on copywrite. It has always been about keeping their methods on top.

So, in closing, they realise that you will always be able to get pirate MP3s on the Internet. If it's kept underground, it doesn't harm them (in fact it may be helping them). However, if you try to compete with them in a credible way, they will go after you with everything they have.

Wake up recording industry!!! (1)

copenhagenlc (180321) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099962)

With the advent of MP3s you now need to market like shareware ... Try before you buy. Also ... i am SURE people would buy a song from you in MP3 format if the cost was right ... Couple of bucks a song. I dont waste 13 bucks on an album unless ive heard it before.

Paying for our culture (2)

mark (495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099966)

I reckon that there's something wrong with an industry that would use a term denoting rapists and murderers ("pirates") in order to describe someone who simply copies some electrical signals. Pirates kill people, MP3 users copy music.

Anyway, since when should we be forced to pay for our culture?! This makes me so angry. Record companies promote music which (like it or not) becomes integrated into our everyday lives, but it's not legal to own a copy of that music unless you give a whole bunch of people a whole pile of money - we don't even get to own our own culture. It'll probably soon be illegal to sit around a campfire singing spice girls songs (actually, if it was just spice girls songs that it was illegal to sing, I probably wouldn't mind so much ;-).

Worst of all, personal copying of music is not the only avenue of income for these greedy companies and individuals who would persecute people for downloading files. Record companies and artists make money from the clubs, pubs, on-hold music, WAY overpriced concerts, and TV and radio stations that play their music in public for a profit. We the consumer get it from both ends - we buy our drinks and listen to the advertisments so we can hear the music in public with our friends, and then we have to pay again if we want to hear it at home in our own time. How does that work??

Sharing of MP3s means that less well known bands might actually get a chance to do a gig for 5000 people at $20 a pop. $100K is not bad for a night's work. Probably more money than most indy bands ever see from CD sales, anyway.


Album business level concept, rarely artistic one (2)

Colin Simmonds (4017) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099970)

there's a reason why artists create albums.

Yes, because it's the basic unit of record company contracts. An artist signs a contract agreeing to create a certain number of albums, not a certain number of songs.

well-crafted songs are one thing, but an album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement.

Sometimes, but rarely in my experience. Most of the time an album sounds just like the collection of all songs written since the last album was released. And all too often there's the phenomena of an artist putting out an album, not because the creative juices are flowing, but because of being obliged to do so by their contract.

Keep in mind that thanks to radio and MTV, people are used to thinking of songs as the basic unit of music, not the album. One of the strengths of MP3 is the ease with which it lets a person create a personal jukebox, freeing them from the tyranny of having to listen to the songs album by album, always in the same order.

Re:No (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099971)

the main issue here is theft...

False, it's about control, but please.. continue.

there's a reason why artists create albums

Yes, I think it may be related to why they're called "artists".

ppl create a situation that debases all artists, bringing (insert your favorite band here) down to the level of a sisqo or christina aguilera.

False, again. The Grateful Dead didn't go out of business because people bootlegged their concerts. The Offspring (a MN band) isn't losing money because I loaned my CD out to a friend. There's a concept of "fair use" for non-commercial purposes that you need to be brought up to speed on. In some cases, it is (and/or should be) perfectly OK to listen to music without buying it. Shocking, huh? Second - yes, it's bad and wrong and evil for me to leech mp3's. Is it such a big deal though that we need draconian legislation like the DMCA to combat it? Isn't there something in the constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment"? Our justice system is supposed to mete(sp?) out punishment based on the severity of the crime. Why should people be liable for "billions" of dollars in "damages" and be sent to jail for years for this?

This is so... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099972)

...the movement of college kids to other music-sharing sites this weekend was amazing..

Not the issue here.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099973)

You're fighting the wrong fight here. Everybody involved is saying artists should be paid for their work. The question is what's the best way. Read the comments of the music industry execs in the column. Some are actually acknowledging that they will make more money and artists will be better protected if they use the Net to sell music differently, rather than cling so stubbornly to the current mode.s

This is what the guy from Artemis says in the.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099974)

...column above..he acknowledges that free music has increased sales and revenues, thus helped artists..It's an interesting take.

Online too late.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099975)

...maybe I was online too late, but my version doesn't have a "was" in it..

Great question in this post..How MUCH? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099976)

..Since the Net changes the dynamics of music publishing, this is a great much should artists be paid for digital music downloads?

uh.. maybe read the column? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099977)

It says twice -- in the intro and column -- that this ruling was about my, not

but is the party held liable, since it owns

Puzzled in NY.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099978)

I'm at a loss as to what my about-face is. I feel exactly the way I felt last week. I just want to acknowledge that I haven't been as clear about artist's rights as I have about users. But I think RIAA is way off base with these suits, as would be clear if you read the whole column. But I'm responding to the many artists writing me saying they feel I haven't been as clear on the one as I have been on the other. If that's an about face, I'm happy to make it.
Using terms like "steal" and "piracy" are the problem. An eight year old who goes online and learns to love all kinds of music..jazz, rock, rap..isn't a thief. he or she is using technology to acquire culture in an amazing way. No way these kids should be cut off from doing that.

Morality and theft (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099979)

Even the recording industry is acknowledging that simplistic notions of theft and property, good and evil don't work here. The fact is we need a new system of distributing culture that accomplishes a number of things:

l. Protects the rights of people who have grown up with access to free forms of culture, via new technologies.

2. Protects the rights of artists to be compensated in ways (new ways probably) for their work.

3. Allows the free market system to function rationally and profitably.

3. Busts up the music industry cartel and monopoly over music, the biggest outside of Columbia.

Re:Artists view...Thanks for this (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099980)

This is critical point of view..And it needs to be heard more often, IMHO. I can sympathisize with the feeling that artists need protection, but some of the portrays of the record companies as victims are nothing short of creepy. These new technologies have permitted lots of artist to get their music out. Sure, they will ultimately need to get paid, but this very articulate post is another reminder that the issue isn't as black and white as thieves vs. white hats.

Free != Antidote to Monopolistic Practices (2)

tibbetts (7769) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099981)

Although this may fall on some deaf ears here at Slashdot, it's hard to argue that making something free is the best long-term antidote to monopolistic practices by industry leaders. If anything, doing so is at best a short-term, last-ditch solution when all else fails.

I don't disagree that MP3 and Napster may represent revolutionary new ways of distributing music, but that's almost a separate issue from that of making the music free. As an earlier poster pointed out, the music artists have to make money somehow. Mr. Katz' implies that the record industries growth figures have something to do with the advent of Web-based music distribution, but this is probably only an insignificant part of the picture. The growth is more likely due to the state of the economy and the much more pervasive ad campaigns launched on behalf of the artists by their record labels.

Just remember: Linux won't have been the biggest contributor if and when MS is broken up. MP3 and Napster certainly don't spell the end of the music industry as we know it.

Piracy due to expensive CD's (2)

RayChuang (10181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099985)


In your comment, you forgot one very important aspect of this entire debate: the cost of buying a Compact Disc.

Right now, the average cost of a CD is somewhere between US$13 to US$17 if you buy it at a record store; it's even MORE expensive in places like Japan, where album CD's cost 3000 yen, around US$28.50 at current exchange rates. That's pretty expensive for most everyone, and frankly, people are tired of paying these high prices.

If the RIAA were to decree that the record companies lower their prices for album CD's, I think much of the piracy problem will disappear VERY quickly. If CD's were priced at US$7.99 to US$8.99, the artists will make it up in more volume sales. After all, CD manufacturing technology has advanced enough that stamping costs is measured in a few cents PER CD!

Re:Ugh (2)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099993)

The company name is, and that's who's in court and who will pay any penalties and make any deals. JonKatz has his facts in perfect order. is just the name of a service they provide.

Watching people jump at any opportunity to criticize JonKatz is about as entertaining (and compelling) as watching Republicans criticize Clinton, or Democrats criticize George W...

RIAA is good for you! (2)

thogard (43403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1099999)

Have you looked at a top 40 chart lately? How many of thouse bands are any good vs how many of them are made by members of RIAA? How many more times are we going to be forced to listen to beach boy's untalented offspring if we listen to the radio? Has Madona's kid been signed yet? When is the single going to hit? Some record exec in Oz is building the next spice girls. You can even pre-order their new album -- no thanks, I will listen to them first and then decide if I like the music. I can make decision like that on my own and I don't need someone else help.

I put up mp3's [] of local bands and so far I've had some mixed attitudes from the bands. Some love people all over the world downloading their songs while others are very protective of their music and others would like to sell their CD's but are not in a position to do so. How do you sell a AU$15 cd to someone 1/2 a world away. E-commerce is helping that but by the time the CD gets there its cost has doubled and there is a fair amount of loss. I've got mp3s from 4 groups and a few thousand downloads of most tracks and the bands do get positve feedback. Within a day of putting on the second bands work, they got their first international order. Another band got a gig overseas in part becuase of the MP3s. None of these bands will hit the US top 40 but they play good stuff and you can listen to it now and if you like it you can try to find some arrangement to get a CD. Its like buying a CD after a gig out of the band van except the nets now in between.

Re:No, not what I am saying.. (2)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100002)

Interesting, but if I scanned in the entire text of Hellmouth and Geeks and put it on Wrapster for everyone to download, you or your publisher may be a little miffed. However, I would have you own best interests at heart :)

The debate kind of reminds me of those about legalization of drugs. We can't stop it, kids are going to do it anyway, why not just make it legal?


Re:Music copyrights (2)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100003)

But ease of copying doesn't mean that an item was cheap to produce.

You have to pay the people to design and create the product. There are costs. The ease of stealing something doesn't justify theft (although it may make insurance more costly)


Re:Music copyrights (2)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100005)

t would be great if artists made music free or cheaply available via download. But, as it stands, they don't and I believe that whoever creates the music (or software) has the right to set the license associated with it. If someone says, "Distribute my music however you like." Great. Fine. If I like it I will. If someone decides that I have to buy a CD, if I like the music, I will. No matter how much you talk about revolutions, Napster is still all about distributing illegal music (by and large). Most people I know don't have illusions about being internet revolutionaires. They know they are breaking the law, they just say they are too cheap to by the CDs

As long as people are allowed to distribute music some will distribute music that they do not have permission to distribute. This is in effect stealing as you've pointed out. It's wrong for people do this against the artists' wishes. They should stop but we both know that they won't.

So the record companies either learn to deal with the new environment--by the way they've had record sales this past year--or they find a way to stop people from being able to distribute music for free. If they could stop people from distributing music for free, which is impossible technology-wise, they'd have the added benefit of less competition.

Killing Napster means killing a distribution channel for artists that can't have or don't want a record company to do it for them. That's definately the greater evil. It's not the only option the record companies have. They should try something more creative like:

Buy and download our cd quality music and get a free album on vinyl.

Sell something more than a cheap jewelbox and a piece of plastic and aluminum. Free distribution of music may hurt the record companies, but stopping free distribution hurts the music and the people that love it. How can it not hurt the record companies to have competition in a market they've pretty much controlled for years. Even if I had any pity for the record labels I still wouldn't be able to just allow them to interfere with free distribution channels.


In the end it isn't about Theft (2)

Maul (83993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100006)

In the end it isn't about theft at all. It is about the Recording Industry having control over both artists and consumers. They don't like the fact that they are losing their ability to make artists play what they [The Recording Industry] want, nor do they like the fact that they are losing their ability to make people listen to what they [The Recording Industry] want. Such as setup in the past has enabled them to rake in the cash.

They didn't see the MP3 phenomenon and the internet as a viable business venture for them a few years back. If they had, I'm sure they would have thought up a good way to take advantage of it. Instead, they are now resorting to lawsuits to try to stop this new way of doing things from interfering with their business.

Unfortunately for them, it is too late for them to stop the widespread use of MP3s, however what they are doing in court may set the stage for a final victory by the movie industry, who is currently trying to stop people from being able to view movies in the content they demand.

And I went through this whole post without bashing Katz. ^_^

RIAA against musicians (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100015)

In the world where the Internet is replacing all other means of communication and data transfer how is RIAA to survive if they are blinded by their own greed? The artist (Dr. Dree and Metalica excepted) should take the initiative and invest into technologies that will allow them to get paid for their forms of art. If it was possible for a musician to get paid for a specific song directly from the consumer, what would be the point of RIAA and record companies?

Artists should help create the market targetted at the Internet users and they should embrace electronic form of distribution. If you are the consumer, to you this means paying for specific forms of art (songs, video, paintings) you like without having to pay for overpriced CD's and for other crap on those CD's you don't need. So did go against copyright? You bet they did, they copied music without permission and without actually buying it. Did the judge make the right decision, you bet he did, if he did otherwise he would be going against copyright. Is RIAA right for placing their charges? You bet they are, they will lose their monopoly on music distribution. HOWEVER. It is the artists themselves who should take their music to or Napster or other companies and artists should invest into electronic forms of distribution, they should go around RIAA and CD distributors and then the artists will win because the consumers will win.

Re:Online too late.. (2)

Carmody (128723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100016)

Simple explanation: It was will have been changed.

Re:Music copyrights (2)

DemiGodez (138452) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100019)

..once one car were manufactured, there could be 10 billion copies of the car with no cost.

That rationale is the reason people pirate sotware and music. Copying something digitally doesn't cost anything and I wouldn't have bought the music anyway - right? Well the reality is that it does cost something to the artist. All the people here who complained about Katz and Slashdot copying their articles for the book - hey, what's the problem? It's just a digital copy and those don't cost anything.

Cost is more than a direct monetary thing. It is indirect money, but it is also control and ownership.

Theft (2)

HiQ (159108) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100020)

I cannot understand this intellectual property crap when it comes to music.

I make something, you buy something; that has been the basis for economics since thousands of years.
The fact that music (and software) is easy to copy doesn't change a thing - it is theft!
You think that just because it's not a solid object, it's suddenly "intellectual property"??

Please think again!
How to make a sig
without having an idea

The Future of Music? (2)

Soldier(R) (173249) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100023)

Jon Katz is pretentious. He is no more than an average writer - he isn't an expert witness on anything. He presents his shallow opinion as fact.

Now, for the music industry:
If artists aren't able to make the money by selling their music, they will turn to in-song/in-movie advertising. It has already happened in some places.

In Pakistan and India, where there are very few laws to protect artists from pirating, the movie companies have found a different way to make money.

They make their money (as everyone must) by selling advertising that dances across the screen. Imagine your favorite scene from SW/ST/Matrix with a dancing cigarette pack imaged over the screen.

If artists intellectual/musical property isn't protected in a way that allows them to make money by selling it, then expect to start hearing songs about how great Pepsi tastes and how much the artist loves his Dodge truck.


ending the piracy (2)

InstantCrisis (178129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100024)

This lengthly article brings up many valid points.
The music industry cannot police the entire internet, and, as with the lyrics website, would have problems with some other countries like Russia.
Also, besides large MP3 providers like, or the Napster service, there will always be groups of interstate friends in which only one person will need to pay for the music for everyone to benefit.
I agree with the article's claim that the best way for the industry to maximize its profits would be to lower its prices. 10 songs should not cost $20, or even $10.

How much money to the artists deserve for some music? Oh, darn, the rappers made less than a zillion dollars this year. I guess they won't be buying all the useless, expensive cars and jewelry that inspire their songs about how many cars and pieces of jewelry they own bling bling.

Instant Crisis

Re:Theft (2)

sitram (180319) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100025)

I just don't see how this can be theft. I could see if there were a bunch of guys passing out flyers that there's gonna be a Metallica show, and when you get there, it's some other guys claiming to be Metallica. But that's not the issue. Say I get an MP3 from a friend that's a band I've never heard of before. I think if I like what I hear, I may just go see them when they come to my area. If looked at correctly, this is a form of free publicity. When I think of music, I don't think of money, I think of expressing your feelings and having a good time. That's what the problem is here. Everyone's lost touch of what music really means.

Of course... (3)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100026)

once more people realize just how evil the RIAA is, and see mp3 as a viable alternative, maybe their sales will go down, and they will be forced to compete, or offer a more fair, legal alternative.

I hope. In any case, I haven't bought CDs in a while. I've gotten a couple as presents, and I got The Matrix on a gift certificate. I was thinking of joining one of those music clubs ("11 Free CDs For $1" or whatnot), but they don't have much in the way of 11 decent CDs. :)

So what are you going to do, RIAA? Sell CDs at cost + royalties? Heck, give the artist a buck or two, I'll pay for that.

What does the current model look like?

+ royalties
+ 3 cents for the artist
+ legal bills
+ media kickbacks
+ mafia kickbacks
+ money lost from drug seizures
+ legal bills from fighting the war on mp3's

I mean, really, *explain* where that $15-20 goes and I'll be impressed. That's a lot of money to account for. A book costs $5, and that's paper, wood pulp. The author gets money, the publisher gets money, the cover artist gets money, the book gets printed on a press that is already paid for. So where's the extra $10-15 that goes into the cost of the CD? Hmmm?

Or how about singles? They make money off of those, right? And they're about half the price of the CD. With nothing to make them cheaper. Implying that CDs could be half their current cost and *still* be very profitable.
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [] .

Re:uh.. maybe read the column? (3)

Hrunting (2191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100029)

Yeah, but Jon, your articles isn't about It's about how the loss the has dealt a 'crushing blow' to MP3 and Napster and the open-source movement, and it's bullshit on all three accounts. The judge didn't say that MP3 is illegal and the RIAA doesn't think that MP3 inherently is evil. In fact, several record companies and bands that operate under the RIAA already release music in MP3 format. The lawsuit was about who has the right to distribute music, mainly whether it's the artists (and their agents, the record companies) or someone else. copied 80,000 CDs so that anyone could listen to them at any time. Granted, they checked to see if the person actually owned the CD, but the fact of the matter is that the company did the copying and distributing, not the owner. There are plenty of sites out there that are alive and kicking that do the same sort of thing that does, except that they require to record and upload their own MP3s. This isn't a crushing blow to MP3, Jon. The judge just said that you can't copy music and then distribute it.

And this is something that I have to say to you every time you write something. If someone were to take a copy of your book, duplicate it verbatim on to the Web, and let people read and download it for free, you and your publisher would sue the bastard to make sure that s/h/it didn't do it. The same holds true for music, whether it be in MP3 or some other format.

So yes, Jon, do some more research next time, and quit blowing what are really sound legal decisions out of proportion and saying that it's the end of the movement as we know it, people's heads are up their asses, blah dee blah blah. MP3 is not a revolution. This case is not a trendsetter or major MP3 precedent. It's just reaffirming copyright laws in protection of the artist, which is what copyright is all about.

This really is a shame, too. (3)

Millennium (2451) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100030)

The problem is that RIAA was afraid of digital music when it first gained popularity. They had the opportunity to take the bull by the horns, grab control of the industry, and made even more money.

Unfortunately, they didn't do that. They scoffed at MP3, and the result was only too predictable. They left it to the pirates, so the pirates jumped on it.

Music piracy is hardly a new thing. It's been around for decades. Prople were taping records, radio, and later CD's long before MP3 arrived on the scene, amd moreover people still do this (probably as much as if not more than MP3; the format does take a small amount of technological savvy after all). RIAA acts as though stopping MP3 will stop piracy for good; it won't. Other means will arise, and unless RIAA works within these new systems they'll lose big time.

For one, RIAA shouldn't be so averse to selling MP3's. There's no need to worry about SDMI and all that; while piracy will still exist, of course, there's lots of money to be made. Need I remind the music industry Bill Gates and Larry Ellison both sell software, and together they are worth more than the entire music industry? So clearly piracy may be a problem, but it's not a real barrier to making a whole planeload of cash.

Piracy is a problem, of course. But it's never going to go away; you simply cannot eradicate it. The best you can hope for is to minimize it. Sell MP3's over the Web for a dollar apiece (this being roughly proportional to the retail cost of a CD, which is higher than the price the industry itself gets for every disc). You'd be surprised how many fans will pay a buck apiece for music, particularly in places where you can't use Napster. The first company to actually try this (assuming they can get a decent-sized fanbase) will prove the model's validity.

It's a different way of doing things, yes. And of course it's scary; moving away from a model that was known to be lucrative in the past but is now losing out to technology is always a risk. But technology is evolving, and unless the music industry is ready to face that and work within it, they're going to be left behind.

No (3)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100031)

No, the genie is out. The genie was out long before the mp3 craze began. It started with consumerism - that people in this country are taught from a young age to satisfy all their material wants. The net effect of this is that they will do so at the lowest possible cost - people are kindof like electricity in this respect- they take the path of least resistance.

In short, the RIAA shot itself in the foot - with the high cost of CDs and the even higher cost of going to a concert/show, people weren't left with much alternative. Prepackaging songs they didn't like with songs they did like and not allowing previews pretty much put the finishing touches on their coffin.

So common people like their free stuff, and who cares about the law? (insert long idealogical rant here)

The other component of this is that geeks enjoy their online freedom - whether information "wants to be free" or not, geeks are out there making sure it gets shared to as wide of an audience as possible. Part of this is that geeks operate on a kind of gift culture - you get more popular when you give away more, and partly because many (most?) come from a recent history where geeks were ejected from society and scorned in schools and communities. This is a kind of self-conscious revenge - a little bit of "damn the man!" .. ideologies aside there is a definite ego rush in standing up to authority. Now, I know I'm going to get flamed for the above statement - I'm not saying that everyone is like this, so keep that in mind, ok?

The last point I want to make is that the internet was designed specifically to share information. It was something of an accident and convergence of technologies that made it so you could share virtually everything - images, movies, pictures, text, it's all going into a huge funnel of digitalization making it even easier to share. The internet was designed to share information. The internet was designed to share information. From the hardware to the protocols to the software to the users, end-to-end it was designed to share information. What shall we do to put the genie in the bottle? Well, dismantling the internet and locking up all the geeks would be the only feasible way to do it. Good luck, guys.. there's a helluva lot more of us than you.

No, not what I am saying.. (3)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100032)

No, as a person who makes (or almost makes) a living off of being paid for published work, I am not saying it's okay to pirate music. I am saying what you are saying and what Danny Goldberg, who is quoted in the column is has been good for music, generated enormous sales and potentially, can be great for artists. It doesnt' protect artists to protect that music can't be downloaded and shared. They will just get ripped off forever. What would really protect artists..and believe me, I am for a new way of distributing music that offers it more cheaply and with more choice.
Nobody should be forced into open source, of course, but I don't see most of this kids as thieves. new technologies have given them access to unimaginable amounts of music, and they are using and loving it. If the record industry would get off its its own execs are urging (see above) then artists could be protected, they could make money, and people wouldnt lose this amazing new access to cheap and plentiful culture. I am not advocating music piracy, just trying to see this music revolution in a different context than: you're a thief, not I'm not!

Interesting about-face, Mr. Katz. (3)

BlackHawk (15529) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100036)

Less than a week ago, we were reading your diatribe about Metallica's lawsuit, and the implication that the suit was an attack on free speech rights. You railed against the RIAA for pursuing in courts, and painted the mass-transit of copyrighted material across the Internet as a rebellion against Big Corporations and their stranglehold on the music industry. Amazing what a difference a well-thought court decision makes, yes?

For the record, I can't stand what RIAA has become: a cudgel used by non-human immortal entities (read that: corporations) who exist solely for the purpose of maximizing profits for their few shareholders at whatever cost. In my opinion, the recording industry has suffered at RIAA's hands, becoming linked with the heartless materialism at the core of big business. And the industry's insistance on holding back the use of digital channels to move entertainment to the people (both RIAA and MPAA are guilty here) will most assuredly backfire.

Frankly, the time has never been better for a company to spring up who will sponsor digital recording of smaller acts in exchange for the rights to give away one (1) song from each act on the Internet. Skip the pressing of CD's and the add campaigns. That same company should purchase and give away Rio players to radio stations to give their acts air time.

But that idea does not give people the right to steal, and that is what most of those who are complaining about the lawsuits, and RIAA's actions, are doing. This is not a revolution; it is plundering. Those who are suing have every right to do so; indeed they have a responsibility, if they're going to protect their copyright.

Mr. Katz, you strike me as someone who was always in "rebel" mode. I went to school with plenty of them, and I've worked with some. They always had an axe to grind against "the establishment". Often, they were right. But they were just as often wrong, and I believe you're wrong on this one. You shouldn't be glorifying theft as "revolution".

Incidentally, as a network admin, I also point out that the universities who've banned Napster are doing so for several reasons, one of which is due to the unprecedented load of network traffic the music-traders (or thieves, if you will) are generating. And I fully agree with their decision.

Re:Not the issue here.. (3)

angelo (21182) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100037)

It is interesting that should mention the net as a possible saviour. It is interesting because on the net, you can just rip files yourself and send them at a lower cost to others than they can. They have to Scheme on all kins of fancy encryptions, where you can just borrow and post a cd on usenet. If two copies of the latest ICP CD are out there, one legit, encrypted one, and a basement-ripped copy from j0e hax0r, people will pick j0e's version, and never ever consider PAYING for the download, which is likely to fail anyway.

I see this in a lot of "e-commerce" models. They tout their method is like "X" in the real world, but on the net, and they don't think through to the logical (if not pessimistic) conclusion that nobody needs "X" on the web.

I can copy my CDs for others, given: a) I have the time to do so (it's automated) and b) I own the means of production (2 cd drives, one being a burner, and a burnable silver CD) plus one original. Bam! Kick it up a notch with instant piracy! No net required. No download times. With the net out of the loop, even sending encrypted/tagged mp3s becomes pointless. Unfuck seemed to do the trick on Mickeysoft files, as DeCSS can do it to DVDs. The net is, as usual, a transport medium, and not a saviour.

Artists view. (3)

spankenstein (35130) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100039)

As a musician that uses [] I feel like I need to say something here. This has let people hear us that would have otherwise never even heard of us. I don't see it as losing money or a waste of our time or resources. The people that listen to us are probably more likely to go to a show when we play close to them, which makes them more likely to by stickers, or shirts or cd's.

I don't see what all these huge bands are whinig about either. Sure there are going to be people that don't buy theur albums. Those people would be just as happy with a cassette or mini disc, either way it's a moral issue rather than a money issue. Almost everyone I know has an old cassette of some metallica album.

And for the money... I know that a indie band can record and produce cd's for 1 - 3 dollars per disc. At shows these are usually sold for 8 - 10 dollars. That's some helacious profit. I mean at worst that's 70%. I know that these major labels are getting a better deal on CD's. The manager at a music store that Ionce worked at told me that it was about 97 cents a CD for a major label. And the honestly want us to pay 15 - 20 dollars and NOT see if we really like the album first?

Grrr (3)

jeremy f (48588) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100040)

When will the argument be turned from whether or not distributing mp3s are legal to whether or not posessing mp3s are legal? The RIAA is quickly making posession illegal -- even if I own the CD, I'm not allowed to have the mp3's from that CD. That's what struck me the most about the ruling of If it's proven that just posessing an mp3 is illegal, no matter the source or means, then the RIAA has already won -- they've proven that mp3's are equivalent to thievery.

The only way for a middle ground is to have a ruling that posessing mp3s from albums you own is legal, the same way that having a backup casette is legal, or having a backup set of disks from early software is legal (this is no longer embraced in the software industry, but was a standard in the early days of software being distributed on 3.5" disks.) Giving away music may be a crime, and wanting a profit (banner ftp sites, donation sites, etc) for distributing music is most certainly a crime, but we need to first establish that we are entitled to have mp3s for cd's we posess.

Music copyrights (3)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100041)

I think things like Open Source, Free Software and the GPL are wonderful notions, but only if they are voluntary.

Jon, you seem to be saying that it is alright to pirate music, basicly because music is expensive and we geeks are supposed to believe that Information Wants To Be Free (tm). Cars are expensive, but it doesn't make stealing them legal.

It would be great if artists made music free or cheaply available via download. But, as it stands, they don't and I believe that whoever creates the music (or software) has the right to set the license associated with it. If someone says, "Distribute my music however you like." Great. Fine. If I like it I will. If someone decides that I have to buy a CD, if I like the music, I will. No matter how much you talk about revolutions, Napster is still all about distributing illegal music (by and large). Most people I know don't have illusions about being internet revolutionaires. They know they are breaking the law, they just say they are too cheap to by the CDs.

You can't force Open Source on people who don't want it. It would be like someone decompiling, say, Unreal Tournament, declaring it GPLed and posting it on a webpage.

As a side note, I think it would be interesting to convince one of the Napster friendly artists to release a GPLed song, with a license that stated that anyone who sampled it have to make the new song GPLed as well :)


Web != Genie (3) (142825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100043)

Once the genie is out of the bottle, it's not easy to put back in the bottle.

But, the web is not a bottle. There is a big difference. A genie does not mirror itself all over the world.

With CPHack and DeCSS genies, once the genie got out, it got out and replicated itself to make sure that even if it was forced back into the bottle, there is still thousands of the same genie that is still out of the bottle.

Stealing Music - Missing the point (3)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100044)

A lot of people who are posting the "theft are theft" comments are missing the real point of the article - not that downloading MP3s of copyrighted songs is indeed theft by current laws, but rather that sueing anything that distributes them won't help.

There are other ways for people to share MP3s, Napster and now Gnutella are just easier methods than others. Things like HTTP servers and FTP servers can be easily used, and illegal digital items have been traded on IRC for ages. The alt.binary newsgroups are another good source for illegal material.

The real point is that there is no easy way to stop the spread of MP3s. The music industry instead needs to change it's outlook on how it distributes music. Sueing the current sources of illegal MP3 distribution into the ground won't stop new sources from popping up.

Yes, downloading MP3s of copyrighted songs is theft. Most people understand that. Some argue it shouldn't be. But it's not the issue here, the issue is the fact that the music industry needs to change it's way of doing buisness, and that since the MP3 "genie" has been released, there is no real effective way to put it back in it's bottle.

Ugh (4)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100046)

Now normally I just read a JK column and shake my head, but:

>>Friday's ruling by a federal judge against MP3
>>was the clearest and most powerful blow yet
>>struck against the by-now deeply ingrained
>>tradition, especially among younger music
>>lovers, of acquiring vast music libraries for
>>free. is certain to face stunning

John - please. The suit was about, not about the main business of And it ISN'T about getting music for free. It's about control. lets you listen to music that YOU HAVE BOUGHT in a more convenient way. It is nothing like napster, or cutemx, or gnutella or

I'm sure it took you a fair amount of time to write this column. Could you *please* spend just a bit more time up front checking the facts first??

JK and HGG? (4)

imac.usr (58845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100047)

MP3 technology -- a format which jumped from obscurity to ubiquity in 1999 -- was has turned out to be revolutionary.

"was has"? Sounds like Katz has been reading Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's guide to time-travel grammar....

Then again, if anybody could be said to be channeling the spirit of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, it has to be Katz. :-]

a mood and statement?? Please. (4)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100048) album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement..

While I personally believe that music should be free (or for that matter, all art should be free; hence my personal unwillingness to sell my art) and available to all, I do understand that as an artist, you must devote all your time and energy towards the art and cannot split it with working a fulltime job. I do this now and let me tell you, my art suffers. A lot.


The vast majority of the shit that comes out of the recording industry today is vile and base. It does not succeed by it's own merits, it succeeds by the merits of the corporation's large and well-funded marketing machine.

No longer is music made for music's sake. (I realise that this is a naive view, but bear with me here, I'm a makin' a point.) It is made with the singular purpose of selling as many possible records within a very short amount of time.

I absolutly refuse to support that kind of nonsense any longer. When the day comes that music is pushed by the people that make it and those same people make the large percent of the profit, is the same day that I will stop taking any music that I still bother listening to and start BUYING IT. (I'm not gonna start with the inflated price of CD's..)

How many here believe that 50 years from now, people will listen to britney spears and the spice girls and think, "Wow. That stuff had soul!"

Go back thirty to fifty years. Louis Armstrong.. eternally cool. You know?

I went to a club last night and it was open mike night. There were musicians and beatniks galore. I may be making a generalization here, but the people there weren't in it for the money; they got beer, bagels and applause if they were lucky -- beer and bagels if they weren't.

That's the way music should be.


I realise that this was a completely incoherant post. My ability to make any sense seems to have taken an airplane from New York to New York.. the long way.
My apologies. I know that my point was in there some where.

Rami James
Pixel Pusher
ALST R&D Center, IL

Re:uh.. maybe read the column? (5)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100050)

Sorry John - but that doesn't get you off the hook.

The whole thrust of the piece is about downloading music for free.... metaphors about prohibition, etc etc. doesn't let you download music for free. Hence my annoyance. If i didn't know better I'd assume it DID because that is the slant of the whole report. It's like all those DeCSS stories that claimed that it was a tool 'that let you copy DVD's'. Anyone who did a second of reserach knew that wasn't the case, but those that are being EDUCATED by the column about the topic are being misled (whether deliberate or not is another debate). Sorry, but that's shoddy journalism in my book.

You seem to have some respect for the 'geek factor' and the techno-prowess of those that read this site. Look how fast the this comment was moderated up. Seems the opinion isn't just mine.

Realize what your target audience is here . A lot of those that will read your columns on ./ will know substantially more on the subject than u (that isn't necessarily a bad thing. A journalist can't be an expert in every topic that they report). But get your facts straight and don't try to mix topics in an imprecise or confusing way. The general public would be much more forgiving - but it won't happen here.

I'd be impressed if you (or somebody else) wrote a well thought out piece on the reality behind the whole fiasco. Similar to what the NYTimes recently did with DeCSS.

That's it... (5)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 14 years ago | (#1100051)

Wow, I have never read a more content free article in my life. Jon Katz's entire article contained no opinions nor offered any insights but simply summarizes news that has already been on Slashdot or is easily available from glancing at the headlines provided by the any portal or news site. I hardly ever respond or read Jon Katz's articles but delight in reading the responses he evokes but I recently decided to actually read his articles and have now discovered why he is so badly tolerated by slashdotters. I have responded to the only parts of the article that are actually original content as opposed to regurgitating of readily available news.

Artists definitely have a right to be paid for their work, but branding a whole generation of music fans thieves seems simplistic, even self-destructive
Why is it that Jon Katz not only refuses to mention artist's rights except for this one line but also refuses to accept the fact that people who misappropriate copyrighted material without rewarding the copyright owners is stealing. It isn't like if I started printing copies of his books and gave them away he would respond with "Hey, that's OK information want's to be free,anyway"

Do recording executives really believe that music fans will suddenly give up on acquiring diverse and numerous forms of music for free and go back to buying a handful of expensive CDs a few times a month?
Of course not, and that is exactly why they are trying to shut down Napster.

That wouldn't protect artist's rights or those of music lovers.
Why wouldn't it? Currently the rights of artists to decide who distributes their copyrighted material is being abused regularly by Napster users. Secondly, it would also protect the right of artists to be paid for their work.

This digital genie isn't going back into the bottle.
Agreed, but before the Record labels will embrace the digital revolution they will try their best to make sure they are not going to be robbed blind before investing in or creating an online business model.

Successful negotiatioins between and the music would be the sanest step yet in the music wars, and a healthy precedent for other businesses who sell intellectual property as well as artists.
This completely true. If record labels can make deals with MTV and radio stations I don't see why similar deals could not have been made with From the exchange [] between CEO and the RIAA representative when all this started it seems the RIAA just wanted to be unreasonable from the start. This leads me to believe that they are interested in creating such a service themselves if not now then later on in the future and that is why they decided against even considering's offers to license the music.

PS: Why does he keep calling MP3? How out of it can he possible be?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?