19 June 2000
The Replacement of an Industry
I'm talking about the industry that sells pre-recorded music. Oh sure, it has already happened to the vinyl record manufacturers, but this time it should be different.
Its like if you want potatoes. You can't just go take them from the farmer's field, because then they would be gone. However, if you could quickly copy all the potatoes for about a dollar just by looking at the potato field, without disturbing the original potatoes, then you shouldn't have to pay very much for a few potatoes. And, you would say that the farmer is a jerk if he tried to prevent people from ever seeing a potato, to prevent them from copying it.
I'd expect farmers to be out of business in a hurry if such a method of inexpensive duplication were possible. But, you'd still want to store those potatoes somewhere, so you don't have to go out and copy another potato every time you want one. And you won't want to eat the same potato every day. That's where internet radio might play a big role, especially since broadcast has become so uniform, bland, and greasy, at least in my town.
Technology that created the pre-recorded profits can now destroy them. As soon as a popular CD is released, it is available on the internet, so why pay the exorbitant price? There aren't very many musicians making a living wage today anyway, considering the size of the industry.
This isn't about right and wrong. It is simple and fun to grab tunes over the internet. Napster is centralized, so they are vulnerable to prosecution, but newer methods like Gnutella de-centralize the distribution. The media barons and their political cronies (including the inventor of the internet, Al Gore) would think nothing of criminalizing vast numbers of Americans to protect non-existing "media rights". Gotta have that V-chip or you are breaking the law, buddy. But it is too late. This is bigger than the United States. It is world-wide. How can you stop millions of Gnutella-like servers all over the world from making their copied wares available?
Freedom of information is a good thing. It is ludicrous to watch the media's potato farmers try to use the legal system to protect their existing way of doing business, hoarding their potatoes and thinking that they can be guarded forever.