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Published: 3/30/01

Napster Fallout, or So, It Comes to This?

By Silas T. Sheep

You might consider this an addendum to my first article responding to a columnist's opinion that copyright was dead. As is often the case, serendipity has stepped up to me. I'm looking for something, I say something, or something is happening in my life, and -- BOOM! -- here comes serendipity with the answer or additional information. But that's another article.

MacInTouch today led me to the following article from MSNBC:

First ‘Napster-proof’ CD set to burn

Charley Pride has insisted his next CD be protected, so they've come up with a scheme to do so. While you might think Pride has little to fear from Napster aficionados, Pride has seen his music all over the service (among others). In the article he brings up a point I hadn't considered in my list of people who need CD sales: songwriters. They don't tour, and except for those who might double as a session artist or something, they depend upon music royalties to survive and continue their art.

One of the record producers claims it's all the CD's fault. If they were as hard to copy as VHS, DVD, or just plain paper books, he claims, then they wouldn't be looking at such a large problem and feel a need to respond. I don't know if I totally agree here. I place the blame more on thoughtless, lawless people who have no respect for the people they're really hurting by passing around music in this quantity. (Sharing a song tape with a friend is one thing; putting up a server and delivering it to the world is another.)

According to the article an unfortunate side effect of the protection scheme is that the CD won't play in some players. So, just as some people have problems now with tapes and DVD, CDs will become more problematic. We can thank the copiers (Napster and otherwise) for that. The record industry was probably looking for an excuse to do this, and now they have it.

And so the war begins. The copy schemes will proliferate; I doubt there will be a standard this time, but there might be a Macrovision-equivalent for audio CDs. And then people will break the protection, and stronger protection will be made, and that will be compromised, and on and on, and the only people hurt in the whole mess will be the general consumer who just wanted to listen to some samples from legitimate sources and buy CDs to add to their collection. (After all, the rule is not whoever has the most MP3s goes to heaven -- it's CDs, tapes and vinyl that build the stairway! Rock on! And those wax cylinders from the turn of the 20th Century... Those are equivalent to St. Peter's key, man!)

There isn't anything left to say except, "bleh."

Best regards,

Silas T. Sheep

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