Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pay for Music?!? Get Off it Old Man

While Terry Schiavo ballhogs this week's headlines there is apparently a much more exciting case heating up at the Supreme Court. What's more exciting than a woman who hasn't spoken or moved for fifteen years you ask? The case is MGM v. Grokster (a P2P file-sharing application). At the heart of this battle is the question of whether production companies and labels can sue software companies that provide illegal downloading services. Editors at WaPo sided with the record companies this week:

But Grokster and StreamCast are not simply technologies that can be used for good or ill; they are technologies that were designed and marketed precisely so as to facilitate theft.

Matthew Yglesias both here and here provides such much needed rationality on the issue (reader must note I only deem it "rational" because it is an opinion that will further my abilities to steal music). Yglesias writes:

What’s at stake here is not just the future of a few companies but the future of innovation itself, both technological and artistic.

Yglesias argues that just because a technology is capable of illegalities does not mean it should be banned (see: VCR). My roomate was commenting the other day on how amazing it is that there are all these softwares available that are being produced by kids in basements. We need to nurture technological innovation. There is no doubt that P2P file-sharing can find a legitimate niche, as well it provides a forum for unsigned artists do distribute music. The only feasible resolution I can foresee is that the music industry needs to conform to the modern internet-media marketplace. When Napster first came out I thought it would force disrtibutors to lower the price of CDs and force bands to go on tour more often. While neither seems to be true I would still pay $17.99 for a Genesis reunion album.


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