The industry's Hollywood-esque, old, out-of-date, sleazy, inefficient, business model, the music recording industry, is about to be blown up. Major record companies have been ripping off artists for years. Why, prey
tell, are they so angry at Napster? Because someone else is becoming the pirate? More succinctly, consumers are taking the industry into their own hands, even though they are doing it without proper legal advice!
This is nearly 2001, and as the movie depicted, it's a new, unknown, maybe scary, frontier. When it comes to technology, Napster is not the only thief. We need to resolve the copyright issues and all musicians must be duly paid for their music, and consumers need to get this message into their head. If songwriters don't get paid for the songs they create, then there won't be any songs out there for you. It defeats the purpose of releasing music. Releasing music to the commercial world, and the internet is part of the commercial world, means making money.
The Napster experience is about the untapped potential of the new frontier... the internet. No need to explore space, we have found space right here... in cyberspace.
I just hope the artist doesn't lose out in the end. I mean, we've created the music... It's not only about compensation for artists.... It's about permission. Isn't it the artist who is supposed to decide who can download the music?
I see no discussions in the papers on the artist's side. We've heard Metallica's case against Napster, that's just a foil for the real case: record companies versus Napster. I'd like to see some news or some positive
direction on how consumers, the public, can show appreciation of the artist and their music: not just by downloading it.. but by paying for the service of downloading it also.
When an artist or record company wants to record a song, say an old Beatles tune, they simply and easily go to the Harry Fox Agency, or the publishing company, and get a mechanical license to record it. Once a song has already been cut, anyone can get a new mechanical license. In return, however, they pay the statutory rate of about 7 plus cents per song. So why can't the internet have the same system. If you want to download a song that's out there, pay a statutory rate. Or even have a performance royalty like for playing songs on the radio. Please, please, please Harry Fox and Ascap/BMI, and RIAA, will you hurry up and come to some kind of agreement on how standard rates can be formalized. The little person is losing out while you prolong the pain!
On the consumer end, there is no doubt that on-line users are illegally copying music through the likes of Napster. But what's happening on the internet is ultimately challenging the conventional ideas of copyright.
These laws will need to be re-addressed, and fast. Artists and songwriters still need copyright protection. This world is not about stealing and using without permission, property of another. We do not need to revert to the laws of the Wild West, or petty thievery of the Middle Ages.Let's try and revolutionize the music industry without breaking the law. Changing the law, yes, and modifying how music is bought... great. But don't rip off the artists in the meantime. Respect our work.
As for the artist trying to "make it" in this increasingly growing consumer world - my theory: record companies will become a mere choice, not the only option. I am seeing it already. But record companies will have their place : as great powerful, and financially abundant, marketing tools. On the business end, artists are to become the winners here. The empowered rulers of their business practices. The "cut" will be diminished on the record
company end, while artists will become financially empowered. But until then the Napster problem highlights this fact: Napster and similar sites "hurt recording artists who release albums on independent labels (or independently) because it is more difficult for them to recover the costs of album sales" (Michael Robinson of the band The Tabloids.) Whether you call it sharing or sampling, right now, this is really stealing.
I recently read Bob Kohn's "Primer on the Law of Webcasting and Digital Music Delivery' (www.mbsolutions.com) and he quite distinctly and methodically explained, in a few pages, how it is illegal to download music without permission of the copyright owner. That's what I concluded from his paper. Basically a server or web station needs a license to broadcast, deliver or allow others to download music, from the copyright owner of the music. This is law. Napster, look out. Actually, not just Napster, but ANYONE who thinks they can download an mp3 (or other) music file from the internet without the copyright owner's permission, is breaking copyright law. You are a thief. It's stealing. Now, we may not know how to find you, just like the millions of unauthorized infringements occurring on the streets where you can buy ripped CD copies of music at shady markets, but you are still stealing.
Don't forget that Napster is a business, a large corporation making money off of published music. Who's really getting stiffed here?
The answer: Economy will be divided into two arenas: the old market-based economy, and the new network-based economy. Subscriptions will overtake product sales. Napster, Gnutella and Scour will be outmoded by a new operandi that the courts and legislation will rule over protecting copyright, and that will be a monthly music subscription network.
Already, EMI Recorded Music, the Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have announced plans to make their music available on the Internet, as a subscription service, by the end of the year. And Napster and
the rest of them will follow suit because they won't be able compete in the marketing. Ownership of a thing will give way to the sharing of an experience.. at a price. I've seen a few sites where they are offering musicians "tips" when downloading an mp3 (e.g fairtunes.com) but this is not enough. Payment for music is a right, not an option. Even when you buy a cd, you only have permission to play it. You don't "own the music". So mp3s
aren't "owned" by you either. CDs and mp3s are owned by the copyright owners of the sound recording. So, for music on the web, in order to be able to "listen" to the music in a format that's on your computer, or on your
player, then Subscription it has to be.
Think about it. Unlimited access to music and musicians being paid.
The new generation of file-swapping with decentralized programs defines a shift in power from the recording industry to the consumer. All we need to do is educate the consumer now to respect the music as a financial service.
As much as Napster is a crime, this particular phenomenon has made our whole economy change. This is the twenty first century and our social dynamics are moving in a heightened direction.. a server/client relationship operating in networks. Let's pray that music subscription works, for everyone's sake.
© 2000 September, gilli moon