The Atlantic: The Heavenly Jukebox

[ Thanks to George
for this link. ]

Rampant music piracy may hurt musicians less than they
fear. The real threat — to listeners and, conceivably, democracy
itself — is the music industry’s reaction to it….

“At stake in the long run is the global agora: the universal
library-movie theater-television-concert hall-museum on the
Internet. The legal and social precedents set by Metallica v.
Napster — and half a dozen other e-music lawsuits — are likely to
ramify into film and video as these, too, move online. When true
electronic books, e-magazines, and e-newspapers become readily
available, their rules of operation may well be shaped by the
creation of the heavenly jukebox. Music, according to a National
Research Council report released last November, is the “canary in
the digital coal mine….”

“According to most legal scholars, the writers of the
Constitution viewed copyright in utilitarian terms. By granting a
temporary monopoly on distribution to creators, the Founders hoped
to stimulate the creation of new ideas. “The creator was rewarded
for a little while, but then the idea passed into the commons,
where people could do what they liked with it,” Lessig says. Now,
he says, the campaign against piracy is pushing toward “a massive
increase in regulation over the distribution of culture, which is
inconsistent with the conception of the commons that lies at the
root of democracy.” In the American tradition artists, writers,
musicians, and audiences work together, creating the intellectual
ferment that has helped this country adapt to change for more than
two centuries. “People hear the cries of the industry about piracy,
which are real and justifiable,” Lessig says. “But they don’t
realize that simply giving the industry what it wants will have an
impact on the entire public sphere.”