Tuesday, March 29, 2005

For Those About to Grok...

The Grokster case hits the Supreme Court today. Here at Chez Village Idiot, we are big fans of music and listen to it every once in a while. All our music is 100% legal, though. It’s not because we lack the technological prowess to steal music like all the hip kids do. It’s not because we are so upright and law-abiding that we shun peer-to-peer file sharing on principle. Nosireebob, here at the Chez, we’re full blooded scaredy cats and don’t want the RIAA to sue us. We’re also quite afraid of getting some hellacious virus that causes our computer to spit files and documents all over the internet. With those two possible consequences looming, we shut down our beloved Napster way back when and deleted all those songs we’d downloaded. After experiencing free mp3s, it was hard to get used to the idea of paying .99 a song at iTunes, but now that we’ve been at it for a while I’m happy to say that it’s nice to be able to enjoy my Wang Chung without worrying about going to court about it.

While I’m too chicken to become a music, software and movie pirate, I kinda cheer those people who are, as we speak, trolling the waters of peer-to-peer networks for freebies. When I was an impressionable youth, the record industry impressed on me the fact that they totally suck, and as a result I cheer the efforts of anyone willing to take them down. I bought one too many greatest hits LP’s only to learn that the newly minted bonus songs at the end were awful, paid a few too many dollars for the double live record that sucked, and generally was used and abused by an industry that seems to care more about the rich Corinthian leather of its office chairs than the people that make and buy the records. Avast yee pirates, I hope yee blast them fatcats to Davey Jones’ locker, gar.

What do record executives do? I mean, let’s say that Dave Matthews gets an idea for a song. He writes it and gets his chums to come over and play it. They hire some people to help them record it, someone designs some art for it, someone else runs a machine that makes the actual cds. An advertising agency might get some promotions going and truck drivers will deliver the cds to market. How is it that “executives” from the record companies earn a cent of that money, let alone the kinds of cents that these executives pull down? I’d love to see music, particularly rock and roll, get out from under corporate America and get back to being something that corporations wouldn’t touch. With digital recording equipment, peer-to-peer file sharing, and the internet, it’s very possible for bands to create good recordings of themselves and get those recordings out to the people without an executive ever knowing. Let’s hail hail rock and roll via the internet, shunning the craptacular programming that Clearchannel has brought to American radio, and leave the fat cats looking for honest work.

The Supreme Court is today deciding whether the developer of a technology can be held accountable for what people do with the technology. It seems obvious to me that you can’t hold the inventor of the fork accountable for the kid who stuck the fork in a light socket, but as I discussed in a previous post, I get most of my legal acumen from Law and Order episodes. I personally hope that the Supreme Court does the right thing and lets Grokster, Morpheus and all the rest of them rock on. Here’s hoping that Antonin Scalia is still ticked off about having to pay $23.00 for his Run-DMC.

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