July 26, 2000
5:38 PM   Subscribe

Napster may be down, but pandora's out of the box, baby. Get OpenNap as soon as you can (if anyone finds a link to OpenNap, by all means post the URL)
posted by mathowie (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Interesting irony at the end of that article.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:54 PM on July 26, 2000

how's this?
posted by tingley at 5:56 PM on July 26, 2000

Yes, run, don't walk, get another product to continue to do something illegal, for heaven's sake, don't let a court order stop ya or anything.
posted by Dreama at 6:49 PM on July 26, 2000

Also, stop linking to sites, because that might be illegal too. *cough*
posted by hijinx at 6:52 PM on July 26, 2000

The Big Money still wins. Open Source Napster clones will never hit the mainstream. Any time they do, Big Money will just have them shut down. All the RIAA or any corporate interest really needs to do is help create a redlight district on the 'Net. Push whatever they don't like off into a corner somewhere where you have to go find it, and then run the risk of being caught. Just like offline.

Prostitution is older than religion. People still buy and sell drugs both offline and online. Pornography will never go away. The rightwing just wants to insure it gets swept under the rug, so they can pretend it's not real. These are victumless "crimes" we're talking about. The RIAA doesn't need to stop it. They just need to demonize it. It's not a question of right or wrong anymore. It never was.

Throughout the senate hearing with Napster and Metallica and Hatch, one thing kept blinking back into the discussion: How will you make a profit by this, Napster? It's not a sound business model. As if to say if Napster could MAKE a sound business model, and play ball with the veterans already on the field, the Powers That Be would let it slide.

How much money does it take for the upper five percent of the wealth to buy a bill and make it a law? How many judges do they have to pacify? How many congressmen? How many of their people can they get into influential places so whatever they say goes? A few million here and there? No problem.

Bill Gates is the fallen Duke of Seattle. Hillary Rosen is Baroness of Music. Replace CEO or President with medievil feudal titles, and we're back in the Dark Ages again. This isn't a republic we're living in. It's an aristocracy.

William Randolph Hearst is laughing in his grave.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:20 PM on July 26, 2000

Okay, I don't want to sound like an idiot, but what exactly on that link am I supposed to download? I see lists of Napster clients, a list of other sharing protocols, and a whole bunch of other junk, but where do I get what I need?
posted by deckard at 7:34 PM on July 26, 2000

Nevermind, I figured it out right after I posted it.
posted by deckard at 7:35 PM on July 26, 2000

The court order was aimed specifically at Napster. It had nothing to do with the users of Napster because what we were doing was already illegal. Everybody who used Napster to pirate songs knew that it was illegal.

And so what? Americans are used to dealing with the government's bullshit. More people smoke weed than use Napster. The government is no longer for the people, by the people. It is for the government, by the government, funded by the people.

It's a truism that government governs best which governs least. Well, ours governs a hell of a lot too much. And so it is the duty of any good citizen to disobey any unjust laws.

And if we have a good time doing it, who's to blame us?
posted by fable at 9:28 PM on July 26, 2000

Your Navigator to Internet Audio

My guess is that Napster employees will move over to the business-plan enabled applesoup.
posted by mecran01 at 6:28 AM on July 27, 2000

I am completely and utterly lost as to how the protection of copyright boils down to big government overriding the will of the people.

Clearly so much of this is just class envy -- so and so is a big, rich musician and doesn't need my money, the recording industry makes billions and billions of dollars it doesn't need my money -- it's laughable. That doesn't change the inherent fact that the majority of MP3 trading that went on via Napster's facilitation was illegal, because it was theft.

And as for me, my mama always taught me that it was wrong to steal. I guess she was in the minority, looking at the actions that my peers continue to try to justify.
posted by Dreama at 6:45 AM on July 27, 2000

Open Source Napster clones will never hit the mainstream. Any time they do, Big Money will just have them shut down.

But, ZachsMind, how do you shut down a service like Gnutella, which has no central servers, and isn't under the control of any corporation? Besides the fact that software like Gnutella and Freenet have a lot more potential for legitimate use than Napster (since they don't focus only on music files as Napster does). Besides, Napster clients are everywhere and thanks to Napigator, all the OpenNap servers are available, and shutting them down will take a lot of time and expense.
posted by daveadams at 8:06 AM on July 27, 2000

Dreama, you're not the only one who's confused by all the wringingeth of hands and rentething of garments over what is actually a very simple question of legal right and wrong. Copying music from a CD to another medium for distribution is illegal; no one can question that, it's simply the law and your purchase of the CD (which has that prohibition printed right on it) indicates your acceptance of those terms.

And yet, you hear NOTHING from the "music yearns to be free" crowd regarding alteration of that law through the many avenues available. Instead, like little children who've been told they have to stop stealing apples from the neighbor's back yard, they want to take the easy way out and find another way to sneak into the orchard...
posted by m.polo at 8:19 AM on July 27, 2000

Right or wrong, the RIAA isn't doing itself any lasting good by attacking the supply side of MP3 distribution. They're fighting a Hydra; for each head they cut off, two will grow in its place. Some people will give up MP3 trading because the "legitimate" Napster has been silenced, but hardcore pirates are already moving to decentalized networks which can't be stopped as easily.

That leaves the demand side, which they can either attack, or attempt to satisfy themselves. The RIAA is probably going to take the "attack" route, track down a handful of college students with MP3-packed drives, and sue them as "examples." This is going to cost the RIAA more money than they stand to make back, and tick even more people off than they have already. Yes, they will be legally and morally correct to do so, but fewer and fewer people will care, and the RIAA will look like even more of a villain.

Alternatively, they could try to fulfill the demand for convenient digital music that Napster has proven to exist. Of course, this will require them to provide a service at least as easy to use as Napster, even if it does charge for downloads. Proprietary formats that require specialized players, can't be copied to other media, can't be transferred to other devices, etc. will not cut it.

For the record, I've never used Napster, do not currently have any pirated MP3's, and do not attempt to morally justify piracy. However, I am sick of the music industry's existing distribution and promotion system, and spend very little of my entertainment money on music. I'll buy MP3's from those artists and companies who want to sell them to me; I'm perfectly happy to pay for my TMBG tracks. But the more the recording industry fights to turn back the tide, the fewer CD's I'll be buying. RIAA, give me a call if you ever want to do business with me.
posted by harmful at 9:05 AM on July 27, 2000

m.polo - taking your analogy further, I'll try to explain why I like napster and can live with myself.

Yeah, everyone's stealing apples off the tree, but the tree is very large, and there's no way anyone can reach all the apples. So I grab a low-hanging one here and there, and when I like what I taste, I go down to the farmer's market and buy several bushels of apples. I've never bought so many damn apples in my life before I found the tree. Sure, once in a while, I get an apple with worms in it or bruises, and that doesn't make me want to buy any apples that day, but on average, I take a few apples, then buy a bushel. Cutting down the tree isn't the answer. I was never going to stop buying apples and steal every one I wanted instead. The tree isn't that stable, sometimes you up up a branch to get an apple, and it falls off before you can reach it.

If any other farmers want to grow nicer trees and charge admission to pick apples, well I'd be the first to sign up for that too.

But I've been buying more apples lately than I have in my entire life. I never even knew I liked apples so much until this tree came along.
posted by mathowie at 9:18 AM on July 27, 2000

Ha ha, love the way they list the url's at the end of the article. STOP AIDING AND ABETTING THE DOTCOMMUNIST DOTCOMMANDOS!!
posted by EngineBeak at 9:50 AM on July 27, 2000

Unfortunately, mathowie, your analogy only works if you ignore the fact that you're still stealing the apples that you take from the tree. Even if you buy a million bushels of apples from the same farmer, what about the apples that you stole?

And what about all the miscreants who steal and steal and steal and never buy a bushel?
posted by Dreama at 9:56 AM on July 27, 2000

Um, Pandora was never in the box. She just opened it.

But another classical analogy comes to mind: the Pyrrhic victory.
posted by holgate at 10:03 AM on July 27, 2000

And yes, I will celebrate with joy and laughter anything that dismantles the planned economy of the big record labels (closer to Stalinism than anything Napster could manage). When a band like the Delgados has to start its own bloody label to get its music heard, it's time for a change.
posted by holgate at 10:10 AM on July 27, 2000

The difference, Dreama, is that when I steal an apple from a tree, the farmer no longer has the apple. If I were to steal an MP3 off Napster, the only thing the "farmer" would be losing is a potential sale of the apple. That doesn't make it right, but it certainly makes it different.

Personally, I'd rather go download some RIAA-free, legal MP3s by bands I actually like who are all on a record label that gets it.
posted by snarkout at 10:17 AM on July 27, 2000

What's next? Swap meet central servers for Photoshop, Bryce, Fireworks, Pyra? Why not a transcription of Tom Clancy's latest novel or Eyewire's stock photography?
posted by netbros at 10:17 AM on July 27, 2000



And despite m.polo's remarks, the "free information" group (it's not restricted to music) is very much in favour of changing the system from within, and there are a number of living examples. (see Eric S. Raymond and Richard M. Stallman for a couple of very high profile ones)
posted by cCranium at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2000

To continue with the overused apple metaphor, let’s not forget that the prominent orchards are all owned by the large record companies, and apple farmers have to hand over most of the profits from apple sales. Sure, they could use one of the out of the way orchards, but it’s a long way to truck your apples into market.

Of course, that has nothing to do with the legality of the whole mess.

What I want to know is where the farmer’s daughter fits in.
posted by alan at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2000

Down with metaphors.

For any given internet issue, there are at least two metaphors, one which will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that one side is right and one which will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the other side is right.

Both metaphors are wrong.
posted by Jeremy Bowers at 11:32 AM on July 27, 2000

cC, I specifically said the "music/free" crowed because I reckon it is a different "crowd" from the Raymonds and the Stallmans... Including Napsterites in that group is about as relevant to me as lumping in heroin junkies with a group fighting for the medicinal application of marijuana. I may disagree with the Free Software approach, but I respect that its proponents have the courage of their (very real) convictions. I've yet to hear a Napster champion who sounds like they're doing anything other than justifying their own personal theft.

FWIW, matth, I've done the same thing - tried Napster out, listened to the song, bought the CD; there's no evidence that even a significant minority of Napster users are doing the same. In the end, I deleted the software and the MP3 from my computer because I came to the conclusions that I'm expressing here. I'd like to see some evidence that the (relatively) small upswing in CD sales can be attributed more to Napster usage than any other of a number of possible explanations...
posted by m.polo at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2000

M.polo, so far all we have to go on is anecdotal evidence, and according to my anecdotal evidence, MP3 trading leads to more music buying. I know 5 people at my SO's workplace who use Napster regularly and 4 people at my own workplace who did before we were politely asked to refrain. All those people were buying albums after downloading tracks on Napster.

More generally... what irks me about both sides of this debate is the seeming inability to negogiate subtlety by all concerned. It's either "Trading music is STEALING and STEALING is WRONG" or "Music wants to be free, you can't stop it, so dig in and enjoy free music". Trading MP3s is not totally right, because obviously, the artist deserves to be compensated for their work, and if you get an MP3 and don't wind up buying their album, you're getting the benefit of their work without paying.

But trading MP3s is not totally wrong either, especially when you consider the many excellent reasons for loathing the record companies who make 99% of the profit from music, including the fact that thanks to a recent piece of legislation, major labels now own the copyrights to musicians' work for good (whereas the rights used to revert to the musicians and their estates).

I haven't used Napster or any trading program for a couple of months now, but I still believe MP3 trading is inevitable and in some ways beneficial. It will help to bring change to the music industry, which is certainly sorely needed.

I'm willing to pay a preview fee, look at ads, get only incomplete version of songs, or otherwise subsidize the cost of previewing music through MP3s. Especially if it meant I could easily buy the music afterwards! Believe me, I'm not fooled by "real artists do it for love"-- I know that artists like Radiohead, Cibo Matto, and Bjork need $$$ to make their music. It takes a pricey studio to create some of the sounds that I love listening to. I would love to support artists when I download their music to try it out. But the music industry and RIAA don't seem interested in giving me that choice.

Some of us think pot should be legal because we just wanna get high all the time, and some of us think pot should be legal because we want/need it for medical reasons, and some of us don't even smoke it but think pot should be legal for political/philosophical reasons. Saying "POT IS ILLEGAL AND WRONG-- DON'T ever ever EVER SMOKE POT" (or for that matter "Pot is great and everyone's using it, so smoke up!") doesn't add much to the discussion and runs roughshod over the shades of gray that exist in this argument, as in practically any issue you care to name.
posted by wiremommy at 1:39 PM on July 27, 2000

I'm surprised that the "fair use" part of copyright law hasn't been mentioned here. Now, I'm not all that familar with it, but I do believe it *should* come into play to some extent.
posted by tj at 1:41 PM on July 27, 2000

Here's the thing about the apple analogy: Apples are actual, physical objects. If I take an apple off the tree, that's one fewer apple the farmer has to sell, even if the tree is so freakin' big that the farmer could probably never sell all the apples at his disposal (which is sort of silly anyway, since we all know apple trees that big don't exist). MP3s are different. If I copy a song off the net, that doesn't reduce by one the number of physical records out there in the stores and warehouses. I didn't walk into a Tower Records and shoplift a physical CD that the company both paid for and hoped to sell itself.

I realize this isn't an analogy that really makes MP3 trading okay, just saying the apple thing doesn't work.

However, it does bring up what I think is a legitimate point: By the RIAA's arguments, every single downloaded MP3 is a lost sale for the record companies. But since an MP3 can be more or less conjured out of thin air, without reducing the number of physical copies out there in the sales stream, you can't say that at all. A goodly number of those MP3s are downloaded by people that absolutely would not otherwise buy the song, either for personal reasons or because they literally couldn't afford to do so. So there's no lost sale either way.

And I ask Dreama to respond to the point I made in the other thread, that I download the MP3s I do either because they're out-of-print and not made available, or because the record companies choose to tell me, "You shall either buy the entire CD filled with crap to get the one good song, or you shall not have your song. It's all or nothing." I know most of us live in the big cities, but the majority of people do not. They live in relatively small towns where the only way to get music at all is to either go to stores at the mall (where the latest popular CDs often run $16.98 or $17.98 these days, whereas here in NYC I can get them for more like $9 if I know where to look), or else have to order them off the net from CDNow or from places like Columbia House, where the prices aren't much better plus you get to pay outrageous S&H charges. (And keep in mind that just a few months ago the Feds made the record companies stop forcing stores to offer those CDs at inflated prices even though the stores wanted to charge less.) I don't know of a single album ever released where every song was also made available individually to the consumer. Even the few songs from the album that are made available are only offered on cassettes, which offer substandard audio that gets worse with each replay, or on overpriced "CD singles" that have six unwanted alternate takes of the same song and sometimes cause as much as half the price of the entire album. And the artists don't have any damn say in this, at all.

Even worse, think of those poor schlubs whose only source of music is bloody Wal-Mart, where many of the albums' content have been altered to conform to the store's moral standards, if they stock it at all. If you want the real thing, you're screwed.

In short, until RIAA and the record companies break down and start offering their entire catalogs, as individual songs, on the Net to consumers, they don't have the slightest prayer of ever putting any major dent into MP3 trading. The technology is there, and people are going to use it. If the record companies choose to ignore it, much of the lost sales will be their own fault.
posted by aaron at 6:03 PM on July 27, 2000

That's a wee bit of legal wrangling. "Fair use" only applies to educational purposes, parody, and for individual use.

Distributing a recording worldwide doesn't exactly fall under any of those. ;)

There is one indisputable fact in all these arguments: thousands, if not millions, of people are distributing copyrighted recordings without the consent of the copyright holders.

Yes, the recording industries may be slimy. Yes, we might be buying more CDs now. Yes, we might not be "hurting anyone." Yes, the genie is out of the bottle and the people want their free music.

But these are all conjectures. The fact remains that this is an illegal activity, and the courts have an obligation to punish those who violate the law.

So change the law.

This whole brouhaha about Napster has not been a discussion; it's been a shouting match, with both sides hitting the extremes and not even thinking about coming to the middle.

Like it or not, the RIAA and their member companies are in the legal right. Furthermore, these member companies control the copyrights of 99.9% of the music that is distributed through Napster. Does it not make sense, then, to attempt to work with the RIAA to come up with a solution that will satisfy everyone?

(I would like to think the artists themselves would be a party in this discussion. However, considering that most major-label artists hang themselves with their contracts, I don't trust their business sense at all.)

On a tangent:

Let me make a statement. I would daresay that the majority of Napster users are not concerned with heady philosophical motives.

I would say that they're cheap and want stuff for free.

How's that for a blanket assumption?
posted by solistrato at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2000

I said a long time ago the only way they could make this illegal is to change the law, which will inevitably happen because it's money that makes law in this country.

The precedent this sets is going to destroy the 'Net as we know it. THIS VERY PAGE is copyright protected. Not that Matt himself may do this, but I see a day coming far too soon than I am personally comfortable with, where if you want to download ANYTHING off the 'Net, you have to give your credit card first, and I'm very much against the idea of turning ANY download into a sale.

When I go to a grocery store, and take an apple from the fruit section and put it in my basket, that store has one less apple and I have one more. I have no problem with purchasing goods in this way.

When I download an mp3 or a webpage or anything off the 'Net, I'm making a COPY, and the person who originally had the file in question has lost nothing tangible or substantial.

The bottom line thing about this technology is it disrupts the present business model. The RIAA wants to eventually sell mp3s or streaming audio to people directly. On the radio, advertisers pay for AIR time so we can hear the music in between the commercials for free. Now, advertising doesn't work with Internet technologies, because consumers will go out of their way to avoid the advertising. The only way you can do that in radio is to change the station. There's lots of ways to ignore or avoid advertising on the 'Net.

So since they can't make money through advertising, the next step is to directly get it from the consumer, which again, means EVERYTHING on the 'Net will have a pricetag on it.

This was NOT what the Internet was meant to be, and I will fight it every step of the way, until I'm forced to change the station, and go find somewhere else where information is freely distributed.

Information wants to be free. So do I.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:24 PM on July 27, 2000

As is blindly obvious, morally wrong is not legally wrong. Yet the arguments always seem to confuse one with the other.

The "at the end of the day, trading music files, which record company own the rights to, is morally wrong" argument, just doesn't work, when the artist / musician does not care that his/her music is being shared, so long as its being listened to. Not to mention that the record companies don't morally own these things, considering how much they rip the artists and consumers off.

And no, I don't live by the "lets steal from the record companies who are stealing from us" stream, in fact, i buy all my music, recognise that record companies help distribution and promotion and help me discover some of the music i listen to. Most of my mp3s are live, or rare recordings, and can not be purchased (unless i buy bootlegs, which is more wrong).
posted by aki at 6:38 AM on July 28, 2000

On a tangent:

Let me make a statement. I would daresay that the majority of Napster users are not concerned with heady philosophical motives.

I would say that they're cheap and want stuff for free.

How's that for a blanket assumption?

I'd say it's pretty damn accurate, myself. :-)

I think one of the problems with the arguments here on MeFi is that the infamous 'two sides' (although I'm guessing there's more like, 8 with differing shades of argument) are arguing different points.

We have one side saying "People who leech files are not only violating copyright, but aren't paying for what they're leeching." as a reason against Napster itself.

I agree with those people. From artists to the industry bigwigs to the guy who wipes spittle off the mics, all those people are entered into the current system to make money, and when they aren't paid for a song, that's money they aren't earning because it's transactions outside the system.

Most of the other 'side' on MeFi is arguing "The system is wrong, and it needs to be changed. The business model of the current music industry is flawed because people who don't create the content are earning more money than the content creators, AND (big breathe) because the current industry is geared towards blowing one or two artists every month up into a big huge media frenzy to earn even more money, while leaving people who create arguably good music without any means of getting their music out there."

Wow, can you say run-on sentance?

I agree with these people.

The only people who aren't really being vocal on MeFi are the "I hate paying for stuff, and here it is, for free! Now those bastards are taking it away from me, and oh man am I angry, because I like music and it's cool music, and I don't have to pay for it!"

I don't agree with these people, and I don't think any of the people vocal in this debate do.

I keep referring to 'Free Information' and the GNU project because I think it's an example of where music (and all other media) needs to go.

m.polo, I personally prefer to think of the non-Gnu-type napster users you refer to as "I want my music free" people, rather than "music wants to be free" people. I agree with you completely, the distinction exists and it's usually apparent when talking with people, but in an environment like this it's hard to tell sometimes, so I apologize if jumped down your throat.

Man, I really gotta start learning how to use periods.
posted by cCranium at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2000

solistrato: I agree with you that the fair right clause is merely legal wrangling, but it may still be valid to some extent-- which is why I'm a little surprised that it hadn't been brought up yet.

For the record:I used napster to look for remixes and other oddities that I may not have heard before. I know that I am in the general minority of Napster users on this.

I am saddened that a really good resource for musical exploration/research is going away (yes, there are others OpenNap, Gnutella, etc.-- but I don't believe that they will be as large as Napster had grown.)
posted by tj at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2000

aaron asked me, specifically, to respond to this:

I download the MP3s I do either because they're out-of-print and not made available, or because the record companies choose to tell me, "You shall either buy the entire CD filled with crap to get the one good song, or you shall not have your song. It's all or nothing."

My response, in a word: "And?"

I understand where you're coming from. I feel the same way -- there are CDs I'd love to have that are out of print and totally unavailable. There are songs that I like from artists I loathe, or whose dominance of the charts I cannot reinforce through purchase of an entire CD.

I don't see where it makes a difference, though. There isn't a mechanism in place that allows for an alternative in these cases that's within the law. As such, we wait, and we act in concert with legitimate efforts to change that. But neither situation justifies anything more.
posted by Dreama at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2000

tj, I too am one of those who get remixes off Napster, specifically the EssMix radio show.
posted by hobbes at 5:21 PM on July 28, 2000

Dreama: You can sit back and wait for the laws to change, but the trouble is this -- they never change in favor of the audience, only the copyright holder. Copyright was supposed to be a limited right that balanced two things:

1) The need to give creative people (or groups) the incentive to create.

2) The good of society.

I think there's societal value in Napster, and genuine harm in shutting down a new medium that's being used by more than 20 million people. The Web could have been shut down in its infancy for copyright-related reasons, too.

I don't know if there's genuine harm for the recording industry -- it seems to me that there's great benefit for them, in fact. Because copyright was supposed to balance societal good vs. individual good, I hope the courts will force the RIAA to prove harm, not just infringement.
posted by rcade at 5:53 PM on July 30, 2000

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