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Technocrat: Napster.com and the Death of the Music Industry

May 14, 2000, 03:40 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Perry Barlow)

[ Thanks to Bruce Perens for this link. ]

"Editor: Here's an editorial by Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow. Thanks to anonymous for passing this on, I checked with Barlow for his permission to run it here. - Bruce Perens"

"I expect most of you are aware that the Recording Industry Association of America has been fighting a desperate struggle against technologies that would end its century-long enslavement and exploitation of musicians. One of these developments is something called Napster.com, a system that indexes and makes available digital music files that are stored on the private hard disks of its subscribers."

"About a month ago, the New York Times asked me to write an editorial about Napster and the general state of copyright in the world of music. I jumped at the chance and only after nine drafts and a lot of nocturnal hair-tearing did I realize how impossible it would be to both describe the situation in sufficient detail and comment on it in no more than 700 words. I eventually gave up, but I did write something that I would like to pass on to you, in the interest of stimulating your thoughts on the subject. (If it resonates, feel free to pass it further on.)"

"...the recording industry, like other traditional publication media, was already suffering a likely terminal illness. Because of the Internet, almost any informational product can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost. This obsoletes the material containers previously necessary for information transport as well as most of the industries that manufactured them. The biggest remaining obstacle to this free flow of digital liquid is legal, not practical."

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