Thursday, March 23, 2006

Narrative Letter

Emily Ford,
Your essay was really interesting in terms of content, but the delivery was a bit confusing. I got the sense you were reproducing a sermon by John, while including your own thoughts on the matter. If that’s what you’re trying to convey, make it known. Put yourself in the congregation listening and thinking about what John is saying. In other words, make your narrative more intimate. If you want to keep it biographical, create the intro with a little bit about John and why he decided to give this sermon. You could deliver some of the specific Biblical information and data amidst these incidents leading up to the sermon, which would make the paper seem more like a narrative. The first sentence was compelling, but had some grammar problems. The end was incomplete, but I think once you gather your thoughts it will be strong. I really enjoyed some of the information you used about the bible. I learned a lot.
I saw the message as extending tolerance to the homosexual community through understanding homosexuality within the Bible and the Presbyterian faith. The message was pretty clear throughout your story through content and quotes. You highlighted the struggle of the gay church going community through the eyes of a sympathetic reverend. I think the unity of the human condition was portrayed through religion and religious struggles.
Your narrative was biographical, but had elements of personal. I assumed you were going for biographical by focusing on John, however, the drift in and out of quotes makes me wonder who is producing the thoughts: you or john? Try to bring out a story quality by eliminating some of the information and focusing on events.
I understood the closeness between the reverend and his Presbyterian Church community, but he wasn’t a fully developed character in my mind. Try to include any information about him as a reverend or as a person that might pertain to homosexuality and religion. I think once you flesh out the paragraphs relating to people approaching him from the community, he, as a person, will begin to be revealed. As it stands now, I am not very engaged in John’s character. Was he respected? Was he close friends with many in the congregation? What was the surrounding community’s relationship with John?
The ultimate passage of time is that of a sermon. Aspects of other times in the church were referenced, however the bulk related to the speech. I’m not sure whether the story follows the sermon chronologically or not. The sermon and relating comments were pretty intangible and I believe they would benefit from a more concrete story. For the most part, the succession of the story was logical; however, there were some confusing sentences that threw me off. The primary paragraph on the third page was a bit difficult to draw an idea out of. It was a bit detached and the quotes were not really commented on.
I learned a lot through your essay. I think adding some narrative qualities and fixing up some grammar will go a long way.

Good job,
Kim Bowman

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"And I don't go to sleep to dream."

Experienced by most college students, stress dreams are no laughing matter.
Last night, by choice, I got around three hours of sleep and, as a result, experienced one of the worst sleep situations: I felt like my alarm clock went off right as I fell asleep. This deprives you of the satisfaction that you had a nice amount of time to rest your mind and body. You might as well have stayed up all night, because your entire day will be spent in a zombie state. The early morning hours will be characterized by slight drooling and a “duh” face no matter how much coffee you drink. Towards afternoon, your eyelids will only reach half way up your pupil, your face will droop into an unpleasant frown, and people will begin to wonder whether or not you had a death in the family. Then hopefully you will have a nap, like I did today.
However, as is the case with most dreams under these circumstances, my nap dream was no walk in the park.
I had a large house to take care of in my dream. It belonged to my parents, who were leaving town with my sister and a bunch of her friends in the afternoon. Having such a large house all to myself seemed silly, so I told a bunch of people to come over around eight. As it approached eight o’clock and my parents still hadn’t left, I started to worry. They would definitely assume I was throwing a party in their absence if the doorbell started ringing excessively before they left. I had to get rid of anyone who arrived until my parents left. I had no idea what was keeping them. I didn’t even know where they were in the giant house. My first guest soon arrived. It was an old friend, past eighty, named Ernest. I ran out to his ancient car and explained the situation. He was very aggravated and explained that my suggestion for coming back in an hour was ludicrous for a man his age. He could be dead in an hour. He finally gave in and drove off grumbling under his white beard. I walked back inside only to hear the doorbell behind me. It was Chris and Ryan, two friends of mine, and they had definitely gotten the party vibe, having brought a six pack with them. I just pointed them away and made it sound urgent. They bustled away in a hurry. Song showed up next. I let him in and told him to help me get rid of everybody. I was trying to find my parents while keeping an eye on the door, so I occasionally missed someone and a huge chime would resound throughout the house. Finally after turning away tens more people, I found my parents watching TV in one of the living rooms. They turned around and gave me “the look.” I shied away from it knowing what they were thinking.
I woke up.
Restful sleep is too hard to come by for a college student.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Revised Draft

“Ain’t nothing quite as beautiful as Music.”
-Eyedea and Abilities

Music is my motivator.
I began my obsession on one of those long drives to grandma’s house. After my brother, sister, and I whined enough, my parents slipped in the Aladdin Soundtrack and endured “Never Had a Friend like Me,” “I Can Show You the World,” and “Prince Ali” too many times to count. From Virginia to Rhode Island and back, our car alternated between Disney songs and my parent’s sixties and rock and roll selections.
Coupled with the radio, these juvenile CDs were the basis of my early music dependence. Cleaning my room was unbearable without the sound waves cutting through my monotonous chore. I began buying my own CDs during these adolescent years. My first CD was the parental advisory labeled “Very Necessary” by Salt N’ Pepa, but my mother quickly snatched that away after hearing some of the lyrics. Slightly irritated, I turned to more mainstream groups I heard on the radio. My primordial CD collection quickly became what people now consider atrocious. Spice Girls, Kris Kross, Hanson, and Chumbawumba were among the chosen to grace my ears during middle school. Realizing my horrible mistake, I eventually decided to upgrade my awkwardly uncool music taste.
Who better to go to than my exceptionally cool brother with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley posters in his room? However, jumping from Hanson’s repetitive two minute long pop songs to Phish’s thirty minute long jams sessions was more difficult than I expected. I took a break from jazz and jam bands and decided to try something else. My best friend and neighbor, Hank, had discovered a curious new music feature on the internet. It was a free music network named Napster with a logo bearing an unusual white cat wearing head phones. Hank excitedly explained how simple it was to download songs, any songs, through this amazing new network. Isn’t it illegal? I asked, but Hank could care less having just downloaded the entire soundtrack of “Run Lola Run.” How does it work? He typed “Madonna” into a search bar and hit enter. In seconds, “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” popped up on the screen, followed by multiple other songs by Madonna and several duplicates of nearly everything. He clicked on three different “Like a Virgin”s and moved over to another screen where we watched as the MP3s connected, waited, and downloaded. Finally, one of the choices reached 100%. Hank deleted all the duplicates and moved to another screen, called the library, where all his other downloaded songs were located. He doubled clicked “Like a Virgin” and soon I heard Madonna’s saintly song drifting through his speakers. That’s amazing. I didn’t care about the ethics of this new technology anymore…I wanted it. I ran home and downloaded Napster for free through the Internet and with the help of blank CDs all my downloaded MP3’s were being transferred to a more practical medium within minutes.
Soon, Hank and I were swapping burned CDs as if our life depended on it. Through Hank and Napster, I developed a taste for hip hop, dance, ambient, alternative, and electronica. My pop roots became a distant memory in the wake of new mellow trance tunes and harsh hip hop beats. My old purchased music became lost amidst a heap of colorful unmarked CDs.
Napster had been integrated into my life.
It was a source of creativity, discovery, and joy. My lust for music was insatiable once it became so readily available. Hank found obscure mixes of popular songs and strange offshoots of familiar bands. Our music libraries grew considerably, hindered only by an occasional slow network connection or errors during downloading. My music began to have a powerful effect on me. It could shift my mood, empathize with my feelings, or enhance my emotion. If I was sad I could play the fun cheerful dance songs by Junior Senior and be happier. If I was angry, I could slip in Nirvana and find a similar frustration in Kurt Cobain’s scratchy grunge songs. And, if I was calm, I could drift into a transcendental stupor with the whispering melodies and passive murmur of an Air song. As I later tried to explain to one of my good friends, music keeps me sane.
Hank and I experienced the decline of Napster almost as unexpectedly as its ascent. All I knew was that Napster had been found out by “the man.” The media and news sources occasionally covered stories about the legal battle looming against the file sharing network. These stories brought my attention back to my original musings about the ethics of file sharing. I acknowledged some kind of rift Napster had created between me and my gratitude toward the artists, but I felt virtually no remorse for the music industry itself. I considered it a corporation, which to me was a social problem that our government was unwilling to combat. However, my ethical battle didn’t lead me to withdraw from file sharing. Napster had sparked so much in my life. It was my introduction to the extent of human creativity and feeling. But, no matter how I felt, “the man” was still going to bring Napster down. I could no longer type in Madonna and get multiple songs and several duplicates. At first, I could just misspell her name somehow, like “Madona,” in order to avoid the apparent recall of all copyrighted music, but soon I had to admit Napster’s defeat.
I replaced Napster with another network called Limewire, while Hank downloaded one called Ares. At this point, it wasn’t hard to replace Napster, because, once the file sharing network had been invented, they turned up everywhere. Limewire didn’t look as cool as Napster, but it got the job done. Changing networks didn’t slow down my file sharing habit in the least.
Influenced by high school friends, I downloaded punk rock, indie, and emo bands. I managed one CD of enjoyable tunes from each of these genres, however I ultimately learned there was a limit to my eclectic taste. I listened to tons of bands I would have never bought CDs of, but had no problem listening to over the internet. The file sharing medium allowed me to dabble in all kinds of genres. I explored, discovered, and experimented with music. I went through musical phases that would have been foreign to me had it not been for this technology. I entered a classical music stage in junior year, listening to Tchaikovsky and Mozart. I rediscovered by brother’s music collection senior year, listening to Phish, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin.
During senior year, intimidated by the recent discussion of lawsuits issued to random network users, I revised my sharing options for my newer network, Kazaa. I took my own library off the network, so nobody would download my music, but I could still download from other people on the network. Essentially, I wasn’t sharing anymore, just taking. I figured “the man” made me do it.
Several networks later, after my Flaming Lips phase, Beatles phase, Pink Floyd phase, Radiohead phase, and Medeski Martin and Wood phase among others, I was entering into my second year in college and using WinMx as my file sharing base. I received two E-mails detailing incidents of file sharing law suits on my campus, which brought the Recording Industry’s message too close to home. I had found other ways to explore music by now anyway, so was my current minimal amount of file sharing really worth $3,000? I was finding new bands through audioscrobbler, which recorded what music I played and suggested what else I might enjoy. I had a single free and legal library under iTunes, instead of my previous scattered music files and misplaced CDs. I even had free and legal methods of obtaining most of my music. I transferred literally about fourteen days worth of music onto my computer through my brother and friends. I also started purchasing CDs again. Looking over my iTunes library and some sticky notes of bands I needed to check out, I decided I would take a break from my file sharing days. Napster and the networks it generated had opened my mind to new sounds and created an infinite collection of music to nourish my passion. For better or worse, they nurtured a rabid music appreciator.
Bound emotionally and psychologically to whatever drifts past my ears, I am a product of the digital revolution of music. Even though I now buy more CDs then ever, I don’t think the Recording Industry Association of America had much to do with it. I think that the act of file sharing allowed me to better understand my own musical taste, which made buying music more appealing in the end.

Monday, March 20, 2006

First Draft of Narrative:

“Ain’t nothing quite as beautiful as Music.”
-Eyedea and Abilities

Music is my motivator.
I began my obsession on one of those long drives to grandma’s house. After my brother, sister, and I whined enough, my parents slipped in the Aladdin Soundtrack and endured “Never Had a Friend like Me,” “I Can Show You the World,” and “Prince Ali” too many times to count. From Virginia to Rhode Island and back, our car alternated between Disney songs and my parent’s sixties and rock and roll selections.
The radio was my constant companion for most of my middle school years. Cleaning my room was unbearable without the sound waves cutting through my monotonous chore. A few CDs even appeared during these years. My first CD was Salt N’ Pepa, but my mother quickly snatched that away after hearing some of the lyrics, which inlcuded “My man gives real loving that's why I call him Killer.” Slightly embarrassed at my young age, I turned to more mainstream groups I heard on the radio. My primordial CD collection quickly became what people consider to be horribly unacceptable. Spice Girls, Kris Kross, Hanson, and Chumbawumba were among the chosen to grace my ears during middle school. So in my high school years I decided to upgrade my awkwardly uncool music taste.
Who better to go to than my exceptionally cool brother with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley posters in his room? However, jumping from Hanson’s repetitive two minute long pop songs to Phish’s thirty minute long jams sessions was more difficult than I expected. I took a break from jazz and jam bands and decided to try something else. My best friend and neighbor, Hank, had discovered a curious new music feature on the internet. It was a free music network named Napster with a logo bearing an unusual white cat wearing head phones. Hank excitedly explained how simple it was to download songs, any songs, through this amazing new network. Isn’t it illegal? I asked, but Hank could care less having just downloaded the entire soundtrack of “Run Lola Run.” How does it work? He typed “Madonna” into a search bar and hit enter. In seconds, “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” popped up on the screen, followed by multiple other songs by Madonna and several duplicates of nearly everything. He clicked on three different “Like a Virgin”s and moved over to another screen where we watched as the MP3s connected, waited, errored, and downloaded. Finally, one of the choices reached 100%. Hank deleted all the duplicates and moved to another screen called the library, where all his other downloaded songs were located. He doubled clicked “Like a Virgin” and soon I heard Madonna’s saintly song drifting through his speakers. That’s amazing. I didn’t care about the ethics of this new technology anymore…I wanted it. I ran home and downloaded Napster for free through the Internet and with the help of blank CDs, all my downloaded MP3’s were being transferred to more practical medium within minutes.
Soon, Hank and I were swapping burned CDs as if our life depended on it. Through Hank, I developed a taste for hip hop, dance, ambient, alternative, and electronica. My pop roots became a distant memory in the wake of my new mellow trance tunes. My old CDs were lost amidst a heap of unmarked CDs containing harsh hip hop beats and crude lyrics.
Napster had been integrated into my life.
It was a source of creativity, discovery, and joy. My lust for music was insatiable once it became so readily available. Hank found obscure mixes of popular songs and strange offshoots of familiar bands. Our music libraries grew considerably, hindered only by an occasional slow network connection or errors during downloading. My music began to have a powerful effect on me. It could shift my mood, empathize with my feelings, or enhance emotion. If I was sad I could play the fun cheerful dance songs by Junior Senior and be happier. If I was angry, I could slip in Nirvana and find a familiarity for my frustration through Kurt Cobain’s scratchy grunge songs. And, if I was calm, I could drift into a transcendental stupor with the whispering melodies and passive murmur of an Air song. As I later tried to explain to one of my good friends, music keeps me sane.
Hank and I experienced the decline of Napster almost as unexpectedly as its ascent. All I knew was that Napster had been found out by “the man.” The media and news sources occasionally covered stories about the legal battle looming against the file sharing network. These stories brought my attention back to my original musings about the ethics of file sharing. I acknowledged some kind of rift Napster had created between me and my gratitude toward the artists, but I felt virtually no remorse for the music industry itself. I considered it a corporation, which to me was a social problem that our government was unwilling to combat. However, my ethical battle didn’t end in my withdrawal from file sharing. Napster had sparked so much in my life. It was my introduction to the extent of human creativity and feeling. But, no matter how I felt, “the man” was still going to bring Napster down. I could no longer type in Madonna and get multiple songs and several duplicates. At first, I could just misspell her name somehow, like “Madona,” in order to avoid the apparent recall of all copyrighted music, but soon I had to admit Napster’s defeat.
I replaced Napster with another network called Limewire, while Hank downloaded one called Ares. It wasn’t hard to replace Napster at this point, because, once the file sharing network had been created, they turned up everywhere. Limewire wasn’t much different than Napster in my mind. I was not (and am not) technologically savvy in the deeper sense. I can get around a computer, but cannot begin to understand the computer language, leet, or the inner workings of any program. I just thought Limewire didn’t look as cool. Plus, the Napster cat with headphones was far superior to the Lime logo. Nonetheless, this exchange did not slow down my file sharing.
Influenced by high school friends, I downloaded punk rock, indie, and emo bands. I managed one CD of enjoyable tunes from these genres, however I ultimately learned there was a limit to my eclectic taste. I had tons of bands I would have never bought CDs of, but had no problem listening to over the internet. The file sharing medium allowed me to dabble in all kinds of genres. I explored, discovered, and experimented with music. I went through musical phases that would have been foreign to me had it not been for this technology. I entered a classical music stage in junior year, listening to Tchaikovsky and Mozart. I rediscovered by brother’s music collection senior year and listened to Phish, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin for the whole of senior year.
During senior year, I revised my sharing options for my newer network, Kazaa. Intimidated by the recent discussion of random lawsuits to network users, I modified my sharing options. I took my own library off the network, so nobody would download my music, but I could still download from other people on the network. Essentially, I wasn’t sharing anymore, just taking. I figured “the man” made me do it.
Several networks later, after my Flaming Lips phase, Beatles phase, Pink Floyd phase, Radiohead phase, and Medeski Martin and Wood phase, I was entering into my second year in college and using WinMx as my file sharing base. I received two E-mails detailing incidents of file sharing law suits on campus, which really brought the Recording Industry’s message too close to home. I had found other ways to explore music by now anyway, so was my now minimal amount of file sharing really worth $3,000? I could find new bands through audioscrobbler, which recorded what music I played and determined what else I might enjoy through the information it gathered. I collected all my music under the free iTunes library, not scattered around various files and in random network libraries like I had previously. I even had a free legal method of obtaining most of my music: friends. Through my musical brother and my musical friends I transferred literally days worth of music onto my computer. Looking over my nearly fifteen days of music and some sticky notes of bands I needed to check out, I decided I was done with my file sharing days. Napster and the networks it generated had done what they could for me. They enhanced my enthusiasm for music. They created a music appreciator. They opened my mind and ears to all sorts of sounds.
Bound emotionally and psychologically to whatever graces my ears, I am a product of the digital revolution of music. Even though I now buy more CDs then ever before, I don’t think the RIAA had much to do with it. I think that the act of file sharing allowed me to better understand my own musical taste, which made buying music more appealing. I know that what I buy today is a reflection of my own taste, not the suggestion of another. My musical purchases are for me…and those I share with.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More Narrative

Music is my motivator.
I began my obsession on one of those long drives to grandma’s house. After my brother, sister, and I whined enough, my parents slipped in the Aladdin Soundtrack and endured “Never Had a Friend like Me,” “I Can Show You the World,” and “Prince Ali” too many times to count. From Virginia to Rhode Island and back, our car alternated between Disney songs and my parent’s sixties and rock and roll selections.
The radio was my constant companion for most of my middle school years. Cleaning my room was unbearable without the sound waves cutting through my monotonous chore. A few CDs even appeared during these years. My first CD was Salt N’ Pepa, but my mother quickly snatched that away after hearing some of the lyrics, which inlcuded “My man gives real loving that's why I call him Killer.” Slightly embarrassed at my young age, I turned to more mainstream groups I heard on the radio. My primordial CD collection quickly became what people consider to be horribly unacceptable. Spice Girls, Kris Kross, Hanson, and Chumbawumba were among the chosen to grace my ears during middle school. So in my high school years I decided to upgrade my awkwardly uncool music taste.
Who better to go to than my exceptionally cool brother with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley posters in his room? However, jumping from Hanson’s repetitive two minute long pop songs to Phish’s thirty minute long jams sessions was more difficult than I expected. I took a break from jazz and jam bands and decided to try something else. My best friend and neighbor, Hank, had discovered a curious new music feature on the internet. It was a free music network named Napster with a logo bearing an unusual white cat wearing head phones. Hank excitedly explained how simple it was to download songs, any songs, through this amazing new network. Isn’t it illegal? I asked, but Hank could care less having just downloaded the entire soundtrack of “Run Lola Run.” How does it work? He typed “Madonna” into a search bar and hit enter. In seconds, “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” popped up on the screen, followed by multiple other songs by Madonna and several duplicates of nearly everything. He clicked on three different “Like a Virgin”s and moved over to another screen where we watched as the MP3s connected, waited, errored, and downloaded. Finally, one of the choices reached 100%. Hank deleted all the duplicates and moved to another screen called the library, where all his other downloaded songs were located. He doubled clicked “Like a Virgin” and soon I heard Madonna’s saintly song drifting through his speakers. That’s amazing. I didn’t care about the ethics of this new technology anymore…I wanted it. I ran home and downloaded Napster for free through the Internet and with the help of blank CDs, all my downloaded MP3’s were being transferred to more practical medium within minutes.
Soon, Hank and I were swapping burned CDs as if our life depended on it. Through Hank, I developed a taste for hip hop, dance, ambient, alternative, and electronica. My pop roots became a distant memory in the wake of my new mellow trance tunes. My old CDs were lost amidst a heap of unmarked CDs containing harsh hip hop beats and crude lyrics.
Napster had been integrated into my life.
It was a source of creativity, discovery, and joy. My lust for music was insatiable once it became so readily available. Hank found obscure mixes of popular songs and strange offshoots of familiar bands. Our music libraries grew considerably, hindered only by an occasional slow network connection or errors during downloading. My music began to have a powerful effect on me. It could shift my mood, empathize with my feelings, or enhance emotion. If I was sad I could play the fun cheerful dance songs by Junior Senior and be happier. If I was angry, I could slip in Nirvana and find a familiarity for my frustration through Kurt Cobain’s scratchy grunge songs. And, if I was calm, I could drift into a transcendental stupor with the whispering melodies and passive murmur of an Air song. As I later tried to explain to one of my good friends, music keeps me sane.
Hank and I experienced the decline of Napster almost as unexpectedly as its ascent. All I knew was that Napster had been found out by “the man.” The media and news sources occasionally covered stories about the legal battle looming against the file sharing network. These stories brought my attention back to my original musings about the ethics of file sharing. I acknowledged some kind of rift Napster had created between me and my gratitude toward the artists, but I felt virtually no remorse for the music industry itself. I considered it a corporation, which to me was a social problem that our government was unwilling to combat. However, my ethical battle didn’t end in my withdrawal from file sharing. Napster had sparked so much in my life. It was my introduction to the extent of human creativity and feeling. But, no matter how I felt, “the man” was still going to bring Napster down. I could no longer type in Madonna and get multiple songs and several duplicates. At first, I could just misspell her name somehow, like “Madona,” in order to avoid the apparent recall of all copyrighted music, but soon I had to admit Napster’s defeat.
I replaced Napster with another network called Limewire, while Hank downloaded one called Ares. It wasn’t hard to replace Napster at this point, because, once the file sharing network had been created, they turned up everywhere. Limewire wasn’t much different than Napster in my mind. I was not (and am not) technologically savvy in the deeper sense. I can get around a computer, but cannot begin to understand the computer language, leet, or the inner workings of any program.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lesson Five: Cohesion and Coherence

This chapter focused on the cohesion and coherence of individual sentences and the structure they make up. Cohesion refers to the quality of the connection and fluidity between two sentences. Coherence refers to how all the sentences in a piece of writing connect and flow. These two ideas create the feeling the reader receives from a piece of writing. The preference for active over passive should not overshadow the sentence’s need for clarity. Two important notions to keep in mind for cohesion and coherence include beginning sentences with familiar subjects and keeping topics short and consistent. A topic does not always refer to the grammatical subject. It is used to identify what the sentence is about. Remember while writing to avoid unnecessary sentence variation and avoid peppering connective conjunctions where they do not belong. A seemingly monotonous style of writing will be overlooked by most readers in favor of understanding and coherence. Adding thus, therefore, however, etc., where they do not signal logical connections is called fake coherence and does not help the flow of writing.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Possible Intro to Narrative

Music is my motivator.
I began my obsession on one of those long drives to grandma’s house. After my brother, sister, and I whined enough, my parents slipped in the Aladdin Soundtrack and endured “Never Had a Friend like Me,” “I Can Show You the World,” and “Prince Ali” too many times to count. From Virginia to Rhode Island and back, our car alternated between Disney songs and my parent’s sixties and rock and roll selections.
The radio was my constant companion for most of my middle school years. Cleaning my room was unbearable without the sound waves cutting through my monotonous chore. A few CDs even appeared during these years. My first CD was Salt N’ Pepa, but my mother quickly snatched that away after hearing some of the lyrics, which inlcuded “My man gives real loving that's why I call him Killer.” Slightly embarrassed at my young age, I turned to more mainstream groups I heard on the radio. My primordial CD collection quickly became what people consider to be horribly unacceptable. Spice Girls, Kris Kross, Hanson, and Chumbawumba were among the chosen to grace my ears during middle school. So in my high school years I decided to upgrade my awkwardly uncool music taste.
Who better to go to than my exceptionally cool brother with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley posters in his room? However, jumping from Hanson’s repetitive two minute long pop songs to Phish’s thirty minute long jams sessions was more difficult than I expected. I took a break from jazz and jam bands and tried something else. My best friend and neighbor, Hank, had discovered a curious new music feature on the internet. It was a free music network named Napster with a logo bearing an unusual white cat wearing head phones. Hank excitedly explained how simple it was to download songs, any songs, through this amazing new network. Isn’t it illegal? I asked, but Hank could care less having just downloaded the entire soundtrack of “Run Lola Run.” How does it work? He typed “Madonna” into a search bar and hit enter. In seconds, “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” popped up on the screen, followed by multiple other songs by Madonna and several duplicates of nearly everything. He clicked on three different “Like a Virgin”s and moved over to another screen where we watched as the MP3s connected, waited, errored, and downloaded. Finally, one of the choices reached 100%. Hank deleted all the duplicates and moved to another screen, called the library, where all his other downloaded songs were located. He doubled clicked “Like a Virgin” and soon I heard Madonna’s saintly song drifting through his speakers. That’s amazing. I didn’t care about the ethics of this new technology anymore…I wanted it. I ran home and downloaded Napster for free through the Internet and with the help of blank CDs, all my downloaded MP3’s were being transferred to more practical mediums within minutes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Commentary on "The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry"

The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry details the epicenter of the hippie counterculture present during the turbulent and revolutionary sixties. This small area of San Francisco housed a metamorphosis of what came to be known as the psychedelic community. Grass, LSD, and other less prevalent drugs broke through the “doors of perception” and gave way to new thoughts, ideals, and music. A new sense of community and love were reflected in the hippie counterculture during a time when America was chaotic with civil disobedience and war. Even though the radical hippie haven disintegrated just as fast as it developed, the products of this fleeting community have remained an integral part of modern culture and thought.
The hippies[1] were attracted to the Haight-Ashbury for its Victorian homes, which, like their characteristic thrift shop Victorian and Edwardian clothing, had become unfashionable and cheap. A nearby hippie population on Pine Street aided the development of the Haight by providing a basis of consumers for fledgling businesses. The sense of community that the new residents of the Haight created was unparalleled. Many store owners encouraged loitering and contributed to public services. Most residents dealt at least a little marijuana and freely experimented with psychedelics, among other drugs. Ever challenging the status quo, the hippies promoted non-conformity, sharing, communication, and creativity. Anything went.
This kind of philosophy attracted all kinds of people to the hippy culture, including icons like Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Hunter Thompson, and some Hells Angels. These types of individuals, far from resembling main stream America, thrived on the freedom of the Haight. Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, led a group of rowdy LSD enthusiasts called the Pranksters around in a painted van, consistently returning to San Francisco to hold his infamous “Acid Tests[2].” Dr. Timothy Leary, a former Harvard University professor, visited San Francisco to spread his spiritual philosophy relating to mind drugs, specifically LSD, and their ability to heighten religious experiences. Hunter Thompson, a gonzo journalist, was writing a book on the Hells Angels by following them around California on motorcycle. Some Hells Angels themselves became wrapped up in psychedelics (influenced by Ken Kesey), music, and the dance hall scene developing around the Haight.
Countless bands were formed in this creative atmosphere, such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Charlatans, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. After the initial success and popularity of a large gathering for music and dancing (a festival of sorts), some Pine Streeters and Haight residents began to organize regular events at dance halls. Most of the bands were associated with specific dance halls around San Francisco. The Charlatans, originally associated with the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, eventually moved onto a place called the Matrix in San Francisco. Jefferson Airplane was the original house band of the Matrix, but eventually became a regular on the bill for the Fillmore. Big Brother and the Holding Company had debuted at the Avalon and often showed up on their bill. Ken Kesey provided the Grateful Dead with consistent gigs at his Acid Tests and home parties at “La Honda.” The competition among the dance halls produced popular poster art and trippy light shows, along with occasional police concern. This environment of sex, drugs, and rock and roll revealed what appeared to be “the biggest LSD party in history” (236).
However, with the Vietnam War plaguing many minds, the hippies of the Haight-Ashbury responded with the establishment and growth of more political and socially active groups, such as the Diggers[3], the Mime Troupe[4], and the various Haight newspapers. With the psychedelic undertones of the Haight still strong, the multitude of radical messages often got lost in the purple haze. Young hippies, drawn to the Haight-Ashbury with no money and no means had begun to wander the streets relying on the Haight sentiments of sharing and love. At first, these youngsters were the primary population utilizing the developing community services, such as the Digger’s continual distribution of free food.
As time went by, however, the Haight-Ashbury began to succumb to two glaring threats: population expansion and hard drugs. The media attention surrounding the Haight-Ashbury tended to display the area as a surrealistic haven for weirdos, which, in turn, drew more and more confused youths, escaping middle class morality. The Haight’s tightly knit community could not support the massive influx of people. The Digger’s free stew became scarce, free lodging became overpopulated and closed down, and hand-outs were long taken. The drug dealing community’s seasonal drought hit harder than ever as the population increased. Newer trends in drugs popularized methamphetamines and their common companion, heroine. Soon, numerous speed freaks and junkies hit the streets of the Haight-Ashbury. The more aggressive and dangerous affects often accompanying heavy speed users and the highly addictive quality of heroine increased the crime rate in the Haight, shattering the previous community sentiments. After Ronald Reagan took office in California, a call for moral order and a crack down on drugs began. Raids and drug busts in the Haight became a serious threat to many residents. This interior breakdown of the counterculture nucleus caused many older residents to flee.
In reading The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry, I felt overwhelmed by the multitude of fascinating events all occurring within a few short years. While reading the book, I occasionally got lost in the counterculture itself. Certain chapters immersed my attention so much in the bizarre party environment that, much like the residents of the Haight, I momentarily forgot the political and social unrest plaguing the rest of America outside this small San Francisco population. However, this tiny group of radicals produced musical icons and inspirations, philosophical ideologies and far-reaching ideas, and wild fashions and pop art that defined an entire generation. This book effectively detailed a community of unique individuals that shocked and disturbed main stream America, while simultaneously influencing popular culture.

[1] Also known as “junior grade hipsters”, early hippies were younger bohemian hipsters more interested in the mind drugs that were being overlooked by the Beats, who preferred heroine and alcohol.
[2] Large Acid (LSD) parties, during which the Grateful Dead typically played music while the Pranksters set up strange experiences for those on their psychedelic journey.
[3] A group of individuals known for aggressively criticizing the Haight-Ashbury shop owners, as well as performing public services, such as their free food service and free experimental store (garage) for the exchange of clothing and household items.
[4] A group of individuals that discussed and demonstrated various social problems and political issues through typically theatrical methods.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Gates of Fire" book review:

In Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, the reader is hurled into the harsh military lifestyle of the heroic Lacedaemonians through the words of Xeo, a voluntary servant and squire of the Spartan warriors. Pressfield’s descriptions of events surrounding the epic Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC are both accurate and engaging. This book is a great resource for uncovering the complexities of the Spartan culture and detailing the historical importance of the Battle of Thermopolyae during the Persian Wars. Through Xeo’s engaging account of Spartan society, the reader comes to understand the ideals and values underlying the suicidal stand at Thermopylae in the intense final chapters of the book.
Three historical characteristics of the Spartan society were meticulously developed within the book. First, by using Xeo as the primary narrator, the reader is introduced to the Spartan dependence on helots, the conquered peoples forced into serfdom. Having been a refuge drawn to the Spartan way of life, Xeo is a peculiar addition to Spartan society. He transcends the class boundaries by befriending both helots, like his half-Messenian friend, Rooster, and agoge students, like his sparring partner, Alexandros. Xeo’s initial discriminating subordination and constant exposure to whipping was typical of helots in Sparta. Since the helots supported the standing army of Sparta and allowed the Spartan warriors to enjoy an aristocratic status, they were greatly oppressed. However, this oppression often cultivated rebellious feelings, which was cleverly demonstrated by Rooster’s consistent refusal of the Spartan scarlet and constant criticism of Spartan society. Pressfield even included the Krypteia, a group that suppressed helot leadership and any revolutionary sentiments, by describing their suspenseful encounter with the accused traitor, Rooster, and his family.
The book also celebrates that the status of women in Sparta, which was far superior to women in other areas of the ancient world. Arete and Paraleia embody these strong Spartan women who are respected within their state and revolutionary (or radical) outside it. During one scene in the book, seasoned Spartan warriors respectfully relate the pain of battle to a woman’s pain giving birth. The courage of women is discussed as a means to achieve the esteemed fearlessness that all Spartan warriors strive for. In addition to praising the lives of Spartan women, Pressfield makes it a point to display female freedoms exclusive to Spartan society. Arete’s strength and courage are displayed first while confronting the warriors at the gymnasion, seeking a husband, and later in saving the infant Idotychides from the murderous intent of the Krypteia. Paraleia’s Spartan clothing is even used as a reminder of differences among Hellenistic women: “Her peplos robe was split up the side in the Spartan style, revealing her bare leg to the thigh. This in any other city would have been lewd to the point of scandalous” (165). No other ancient society would tolerate such a display of impetuousness and dominance from their women.
Finally, Pressfield recreated the rigorous training and brutality of the Spartan agoge, which prepared them so well for the intensity of battle that they could march off to meet certain death. Characters like Polynikes displayed the harsh aggressive personality associated with the Spartan warriors and their military lifestyle. Pressfield included a lot of colorful language and entertaining verbal abuse directed toward the younger members of the agoge, but that is not all they had to endure. The young Spartiates were whipped for the smallest error and pushed to the point of exhaustion (even death in some cases) during training exercises. However, as Pressfield also demonstrates, they were being schooled in principles of fear and its effects on both the enemy and ones own self. The Spartan army relied on fear to weaken their enemy and, in many cases, avoid battle all together. These principles are displayed beautifully during the scenes at Thermopolyae. Pressfield reported the fearful reactions of the Persians to intimidation tactics, such as the Spartan’s fierce, expressionless, and plumed helmets or their rigid silence effected prior to the initial clash in battle. The Spartan’s tactics and brute strength culminated in an initial massive slaughter of numerous Persian warriors utilizing weak armor and inferior weaponry and tactics.
A minor historical inaccuracy throughout the novel was the fact that the characteristic brevity associated with Spartan dialogue was often overlooked in favor of long speeches. Leonidas, the Spartan King, and Dienekes, a seasoned warrior, both had a habit of teaching long winded lessons or shouting lengthy spirited encouragement. This, however, did not affect the reliability of the novel, because the speeches often demonstrated some other truth within Spartan society.
The chronological order of the novel was very compelling. Xeo, having been the only Spartan survivor at Thermopolyae, was relaying his story to the historians of King Xerxes himself. During the real time scenes, set off by italics, a sophisticated debate of ethics and human nature, initiated by Xeo’s story, plagued Xerxes. This secondary story line propelled the narrative further by adopting a Persian perspective on the war that would otherwise have been completely ignored.
Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire was a truly epic read detailing an astonishing moment in history and the lives of those involved. The book itself was a compelling page-turner and learning experience all in one. I can not perceive any other way to so thoroughly detail the Battle of Thermopolyae while maintaining constant appeal.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sources Review

Many of my sources provided specific data, situations, and explanations that I required to explain various arguments and ideas, while other sources helped me to thoroughly explore and understand my controversy. Two books in particular helped form my understanding of the controversy and its history. The book The Future of Music introduced me to many aspects of the community I needed to explore throughout the essay. It was a good start to the paper and a valuable resource to develop the basis of my inquiry. Much of the history I utilized came from Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music, Machines, and Money due to its thorough analysis of legal issues concerning file sharing and their resulting effects on the music world.
Some sources forwarded my writing by detailing major aspects of my controversy. A lot of the content I used to explain alternate methods of combating file sharing came from a detailed article called “Stopping music piracy without breaking the Internet: digital might have a B side after all.” Without this article, the alternatives to filing individual lawsuits would have been difficult to uncover amidst all the information and opinions throughout my sources. This article also swayed my opinion toward legal online music networks as the safest way to combat illegal file sharing, because it framed so many problems or obstacles that halted the other methods. The best source for understanding the file sharer’s perspective was Mark Katz’ Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music. In his book, Katz explained both the logical advantages of illegal file sharing and the benefits of legal online music networks. The two NPR broadcasts gave insight into a higher level of my controversy. Both “The Marketplace Report: Online Music Price-Fixing?” and “Paying for Music in the Internet Age” discussed issues I had been reading about; however, they incorporated information about how the government is handling these issues and how major music companies are interacting with each other.
The remaining sources, mostly online journal articles, all contained quality information, but related to narrower subjects. I used some of the sources, such as “Sharing Music, Legally,” “Roxio Bets Future on Napster Brand,” and “Sonic Acquires Roxio Software; Napster Rolls On,” to explain specific situations. All of those articles described the Napster/Roxio/Snocap developments relating to legal music networks. Other sources, such as “Not-so-Jolly Rogers,” “Music industry takes song swappers to court,” and “Setbacks in the music piracy war” were used to extract data and statistics. I got information from these articles that included the average settlement of RIAA lawsuits or the numbers relating to drops in CD sales.
I didn’t rely too heavily on any source, because there was a lot to cover relating to my thesis. Each source provided useful insight. My opinions began to take shape throughout all my research, not just out of a few articles. There was an abundance of online journal articles within my bibliography due to the nature of my topic. The file sharing phenomenon is relatively recent, so it was logical to find a lot of information online in business magazines and journals.

Monday, March 13, 2006

If this isn't the last one, Im gonna kill a man.

Handling File-Sharing

The Internet defines the future of the music community. Online music downloading is rapidly gaining popularity and appears to be here to stay. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a two pronged campaign in order to dissuade growing numbers of illegal file swapping and other online copyright infringements. Their most recent method of discouraging file sharers has included individual law suits against heavy sharers and sending out the message to parents and network users, especially college students, about the negative effects of file sharing. Conflicting data and opinions have caused much debate among the music community concerning whether file sharing is the threat to the future of music that the RIAA and the music industry believe it to be and whether the RIAA’s current campaign is the best way to control file-sharing.
The music community has been revolutionized by the recent popularity and obsession surrounding Internet freedom and technological advances. The mass movement of people to communicate through this new medium has led our country into a digital age of music. Technology has made exchanging and copying music extremely fast, cheap, and readily available, especially on the Internet. The advertisers, artists, and record companies profiting from CD sales are disgruntled by this fast, growing exchange of free copyrighted music. Major record companies, led by the RIAA, are fighting back because they feel that file swapping is a threat to their previously unchecked ability to dominate format changes and availability of merchandise in the music world. Artists in the music community typically vary on whether they feel file sharing should be condemned. Many top-selling artists, such as Britney Spears and Eminem, have offered their full support towards RIAA tactics and disapprove of all illegal file sharing (Digital Age 2). Fledgling artists typically enjoy the ability to distribute their music through file sharing to increase awareness of their songs and create a fan base. The music loving community, otherwise viewed as the music consumers, has a wide rage of opinions on the matter. Many file sharers view their habit as a harmless way to discover music. Nevertheless, file-sharing consequences, as seen in recent e-mails to the RMC community, are far-reaching. In a follow-up letter sent to the students in the RMC community early February 2006, a warning from Thomas Copler, the CIO and Director of ITS at RMC, stated: “Be aware that since sending this warning in early January the college has received two additional warnings from the RIAA. The RIAA is obviously taking a closer look this year so everybody needs to be aware of their chances of being tagged for music copyright infringement violation” (Copler 1)!
Whether or not I am affected by the lawsuits personally, the RIAA message has intimidated and affected my file-sharing habits. As a long time participant in file-sharing networks including Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and WinMx, I have noticed the effects of the RIAA’s legal battles and actions on both the networks’ development and my own downloading habits. Downloading brings files from a central device to a network computer, whereas uploading brings files from a network computer to a central device. I began downloading music while in middle school to burn onto CDs and trade with my neighbor. This habit was propelled by Napster, an exciting new piece of digital technology. I would type in a song, wait for results from the music libraries of thousands or millions of users logged on, identify what appeared to be what I was looking for, wait for the typically slow download, and listen, hoping I didn’t accidentally introduce porn onto my computer. As the RIAA began winning its battle with Napster, the music file names became more and more cryptic. The artists and song names would be spelled incorrectly to throw off the forced removal of all copyrighted major label tracks. During the Summer of 2001, Napster shut down and so did my interest in that particular network. I moved onto a service called LimeWire, which I heard of randomly among the many networks that flourished after Napster’s shut down. However, soon I began hearing about huge fines being directed toward customers by the RIAA. I promptly altered my network settings so that I would not be sharing my own music; in other words, I was not allowing people to download the songs I had collected on my library, but I could still download theirs. Years later, after receiving the RMC letter about college students being targeted by the RIAA, I closed my connection with my most recent network, WinMx, and went back to buying CDs and occasionally purchasing from the iTunes music store.
The technology that launched file sharing exploded onto the music scene with Napster in 1999. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was simply trying to improve the file swapping he observed in Internet Relay Chats (Kusek 100). He united a large group file-sharers under his new program, who quickly spread the word of his achievement. Once the RIAA took notice of his creation and its huge following, a high profile legal battle took place. The RIAA won the battle in 2001 and had Napster shut down. This, however, did not kill off online music downloading. A new wave of peer-to-peer networks, also known as P2P networks, developed. The newer P2P networks provided a base for computers to transfer files directly from one computer to another, rather than using central servers or directories, which Napster had employed. When the RIAA took P2P services like Grokster and Kazaa to court, the judge ruled that there are legitimate applications for these new P2P networks due to the lack of a central server (Adegoke 1). This ruling ended the RIAA’s opportunity to fight file-sharing by going directly to the source, which caused them to start filing lawsuits against individual network users. Their targets were so-called “supernodes” or “significant uploaders of pirated music” (Adrianson 2). This decision launched a popular and extensive controversy relating to many aspects of file-sharing.
A large part of this debate has centered around the question of whether or not file-sharing is as unfavorable as the RIAA believes. Most observe that there is certainly a redistribution of music profits attributed to the digital revolution. The recording industry estimates that they lose around “$4.2 billion to piracy worldwide every year” (Engleman 1). Shipments of recorded music have reportedly “dropped by 26% since 1999” (Not-so-Jolly 1). According to the RIAA, the increase in piracy may also account for significant drops in the top selling album sales. The data shows that “the 10 top selling albums of 2000 accounted for 60 million sales in the United States while the10 top-selling albums of 2002 accounted for just 34 million comparable sales. The record industry’s total sales have also fallen from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $12.6 billion in 2002” (Adrianson 2). However, the Oberholzer-Strumpf study, which criticized the correlation between declining CDs sales and file sharing, lists several alternative causes for these numbers including: “poor macroeconomic conditions, a reduced number of album releases, growing competition from other forms of entertainment, a reduction in music variety due to radio consolidation, the cost of independent promoter fees to gain airplay, and possibly a consumer backlash against record industry tactics” (Holland 1). Former Sony Music Executive, Steve Grodon, blames the Internet Service Providers and the manufactures of computers, blank optical disks, CD burners, and MP3 players,” all of which are “facilitating unauthorized file sharing and CD burning” (Paying for Music). Nevertheless, the recording industry supporters argue that the upholding of copyright laws ensures that the artists and producers continue to make a profit, which essentially preserves the music market.
Others perceive file sharing not as an interference with industry profits, but as an opportunity for development within the music industry in more than one way. In the debated study by Dr. Felix Oberholzer-Gee of the Harvard Business School and Dr. Koleman S. Strumpf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, results showed that file sharing had virtually no effect on store compact disc sales. The study “even found that for albums with sales over 600,000 copies, every 150 downloads actually increases sales by one copy” (O’Rourke 1). In fact, 50 Cent’s songs were among the top illegal downloads of 2003, and his album sold nine million copies that year (Kusek 41). However, the RIAA claims that the Oberholzer-Strumpf study “contradicts the findings of five other studies of P2P activity conducted in 2002-2003.” The RIAA also suggested that this seventeen week study, which included the Christmas season, is not able to reflect the effects of file sharing over the previous three years (Holland 1).
The Oberholzer-Strumpf results, nevertheless, support theories that file-sharing is actually “the most successful and direct form of product sampling ever invented” (Kusek 100). The Internet allows people to navigate through musical selections and explore numerous genres that offline venues will probably never be able to present so readily. Mark Katz demonstrates this in his book Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music by searching on a file-sharing network for two obscure genres: Swedish funk and Vietnamese hardcore rap. He quickly is presented with the “Electric Boys, a Stockholm quartet formed in 1988… [and] their album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride,” as well as the “California-based Vietnamese group inexplicably known as Thai” (166). Another point brought up by those concerned with negative file-sharing portrayals is the fact that the words “piracy” and “file-sharing” are often confused. Piracy is typically referred to as “the activities of organized criminals who manufacture illegal copies of CDs, DVDs, tapes, and records, then photocopy the covers and sell the illicit product on the streets for a steep profit” (Kusek 41). File-sharers are typically “serious music enthusiasts who lack any compelling commercial alternative to getting their need for music filled” (Kusek 42). In lumping file-sharers with the organized crime of music pirates, those opposed to file-sharing make the statistics seem a lot more menacing against online music downloading. This means that the RIAA can present impressive data about music piracy in interviews and articles dealing with file sharing without fear of too many individuals noticing the technical difference.
Despite how one feels about the effects of file-sharing, the campaign against it will most likely continue. As expressed in the letter to RMC students, the lawsuits must be a moneymaker or else the RIAA would not continue to waste its time on this losing battle (Copler 4). Since beginning their individual lawsuits, the RIAA has sued thousands of Americans with settlements averaging around $3,000 (Engleman 1). Is this the best way to combat millions of downloaders? Those who oppose the RIAA’s tactics have found several problems in their technique. Many see directly attacking the consumers as a risky move in and of itself. The former President of Grokster (a newer P2P network), Wayne Rosso, describes it as a “scare and intimidation” tactic that will ultimately fail (Adegoke 2). Shortly after Napster’s downfall, Grokster protected the newer wave of P2P networks by winning its legal battle against the RIAA. Many take the stance that the RIAA will never be able to combat 57 million Americans (and millions more foreign file-sharers), however their methods may raise awareness of the possible negative results of file sharing (Adegoke 2). Contrary to the RMC letter, there are even those who believe that the separate lawsuits may, indeed, prove “more costly and time-consuming [for the RIAA] than [they] are worth” (O’Rourke 1). If this is true, the music community may see new government laws being passed that will support a different solution.
Others complain about the invasion of privacy associated with revealing network identities. The RIAA uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which allows “a special administrative subpoena procedure” to be carried out for “any Internet account holder suspected of unauthorized trading of copyrighted material” (Adrianson 3). Two separate incidents, in which the RIAA used the DMCA, resulted in lawsuits against a retired grandmother and the mother of a 12-year old girl. These incidents have tarnished their public relations image and given their policies a harsh edge. The charges were eventually dropped against the grandmother; however, the mother of the 12-years old settled the suit at $2,000. The DMCA itself is also a subject of privacy debates, as it is subject to substantial abuse by people and organizations with potentially dangerous or inappropriate motives for accessing people’s identities. In fact, James Ellis, the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for SBC, the nation’s leader in telecommunications, admitted that “his company has fought 59 subpoenas issued by a distributor of hardcore gay pornography” (Adrianson 3). However, amending the DMCA to have a greater degree of court supervision may cost more and be much more invasive for consumers than a well crafted subpoena process (Adrianson 4). More court supervision would most likely entail filing a lawsuit prior to sending a subpoena.
A larger debate focuses on whether or not the RIAA’s lawsuits and information distribution campaign is more productive than other restrictive policy options. One option is the “technical fix,” which means that a technical solution will be designed to avoid unauthorized copying. One technical fix is the Digital Rights Management option, which suggests placing “a special code into digitized media that prevents copying” (Adrianson 4). However, if knowledgeable pirates overcame the protective codes, all digital media players would have to be fixed to play only media with a DRM code. Therefore, these technological fixes may restrict innovation and place boundaries much more than the RIAA’s current policy. Another option would be to adopt a blanket license system, which “could authorize copyrighted material to be traded on the networks while providing compensation for the artists and the record labels,” much like the radio licensing system (Adianson, 5). Some P2P networks, such as Grokster, are pushing for this solution. In an interview on NPR, Steve Gordon the former Sony Music executive and current music attorney, explained the advantages of one such blanket license system called the statutory license law trying to be passed through Congress: “Record companies limit the release of millions of older songs, which puts the record company at a severe disadvantage with the unauthorized services that can allow anything…the statutory license triumphs this problem” by permitting the use of all copyright material in exchange for a predetermined payment to the copyright owner (Paying for Music).
One of the current successful options is to expand and exploit the online music market by developing legal downloading networks like Apple iTunes, Emusic.com, and Listen.com, which typically offer songs for 99 cents each. The RIAA states that the simultaneous development of this legal market and the abundance of lawsuits was no accident. Jonathan Lamy, a spokesperson for the RIAA, explained, “‘The idea is to bring [illegal file-sharing] down to a level of control where legitimate services can get a foothold in the marketplace and eventually flourish’” (Adrianson 6). Legal file-sharing is an important opportunity for the record companies involved. The new option may allow them to regain their ability to control the music industry. Their new hold on the market may already be displaying growing power over consumers and competition. National Public Radio announced that the U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating anti-competitive practices like price-fixing within online music networks for four global music companies. The most successful legal downloading site, Apple iTunes, is using their success to endorse their other products, which gives them an “unprecedented amount of control over the record business and the technology business.” There could be a “tying violation,” applied to Apples’ music sales being linked to Apple technology. A smaller feud is occurring between Apple’s CEO and the music industry about Apple’s refusal to force customers to pay more for hit songs than “B-side songs” (Marketplace Report). These incidents reflect the growing competition within this new market.
Despite these problems, the future of file-sharing may progress towards legal options if record companies take full advantage of the online market. Even the RIAA agrees that file-sharing is here to stay. Mark Katz displayed several reasons as to why someone would want to pay for downloaded music in his book, Capturing Sound. Illegal P2P file-sharing networks are wracked with flaws and annoyances that many people are probably willing to give up for a small fee. Legal downloading networks have the appeal of ease, speed, reliability, quantity, quality, permanence, additional resources or services, the possibility of directly benefiting the musicians, and, of course, they are legal (Katz 183). As a seasoned file-sharer myself, I will attest to the enormous relief that legal networks bring to the downloading system. While using illegal networks, I often had an enormous amount of trouble locating and downloading quality songs.
The most recent stir in legal file sharing news is the launch of the new Napster. Boasting more than one million tracks of music, Napster is being successfully reborn into the online music world through its new parent company, Roxio. In late 2004, Sonic Solutions, the leader in digital media software, announced that “it was acquiring Roxio’s consumer software division for $80 million in cash and common stock.” While, Roxio, having bought the Napster name, will henceforth focus its business “on the digital music distribution market and change its name to Napster” (Nathans 1). Shawn Fanning, Napster’s creator, now has nothing to do with his revolutionary creation. His new project, Snocap, acts as a “digital middleman” within the file sharing community. Rather than directly selling music legally like Apple iTunes, Snocap works with legal file-sharing software, like Mashboxx, by employing a database of copyrighted music: “When a music fan locates a song on another computer in the network, Snocap checks to see if it is registered in its database. If it is, the song can be purchased or listened to five times for free. [If not,] Mashboxx lets the user have it at no charge” (Dell 2). This idea benefits fledgling musicians, while protecting copyrighted music from seasoned artists. Fanning is now becoming the record industry’s best friend and his new program may challenge iTunes’ dominance of this new market (Dell 2).
Whatever the future of file-sharing networks, the digital age has left its mark on the music industry. The data surrounding CD sales amidst file sharing appears to be surrounded by hidden prejudices. However, even among this confusion one can see file sharing is not only sticking around, but growing and developing. The RIAA’s campaign has had an impact on the music community, but whether or not its effects have been useful is still widely debated. It is still doubtful, however, that the other options for suppressing file sharing are superior. Legal online music networks seem to be a source of hope for the music industry amidst the chaotic file sharing debate. These legal networks are gaining popularity and raking in lost profits, but they are also struggling with flaws. The music community must continue to explore and develop a feasible solution to these issues.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Even more drafting/ research

The Internet defines the future of the music community. Online music downloading is rapidly gaining popularity and appears to be here to stay. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a two pronged campaign in order to dissuade growing numbers of illegal file swapping and other online copyright infringements. Their most recent method of discouraging file sharers has included individual law suits against heavy sharers and sending out the message to parents and network users, especially college students, about the negative effects of file sharing. Conflicting data and opinions have caused much debate among the music community concerning whether file sharing is the threat to the future of music that the RIAA and the music industry believe it to be and whether the RIAA’s current campaign is the best way to control file-sharing.
The music community has been revolutionized by the recent popularity and obsession surrounding internet freedom and technological advances. The mass movement of people to communicate through this new medium has led our country into a digital age of music. Technology has made exchanging and copying music extremely fast, cheap, and readily available, especially on the internet. Advertisers, artists, and record companies profiting from CD sales are disgruntled by this fast, growing exchange of free copyrighted music. Major record companies, led by the RIAA, are fighting back, because they feel that file swapping is a threat to their previously unchecked ability to dominate format changes and availability of merchandise. Artists in the music community typically vary on whether they feel file sharing should be condemned. Many top-selling artists, such as Britney Spears and Eminem, have offered their full support towards RIAA tactics (Digital Age 2) and disapprove of all illegal file sharing. Fledgling artists typically enjoy the ability to distribute their music through file sharing to increase awareness and create a fan base. The music loving community, otherwise viewed as the music consumers, has a wide rage of opinions on the matter. Many file sharers view their habit as harmless and a way to discover music. Nevertheless, file-sharing consequences, as seen in recent e-mails to the RMC community, are far-reaching. In a follow-up letter sent to the students in the RMC community early February 2006, a warning from the CIO and Director of ITS stated: “Be aware that since sending this warning in early January the college has received two additional warnings from the RIAA. The RIAA is obviously taking a closer look this year so everybody needs to be aware of their chances of being tagged for music copyright infringement violation” (Copler 1)!
Whether or not I am affected by the lawsuits personally, the RIAA message has intimidated and affected my file-sharing habits. As a long time participant in file-sharing networks including Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and WinMx, I have noticed the effects of the RIAA’s legal battles and actions on both the networks’ development and my own downloading habits. Downloading brings files from a central device to a network computer, whereas uploading brings files from a network computer to a central device. I began downloading music while in middle school to burn onto CDs and trade with my neighbor. This habit was propelled by the exciting new technology, Napster. I typed in a song, waited for results from the music libraries of thousands or millions of users logged on, identified what appeared to be what I was looking for, waited for the typically slow download, and listened, hoping I didn’t accidentally introduce porn onto my computer. As the RIAA began winning its battle with Napster, the music file names became more and more cryptic. The artists and song names would be spelled incorrectly to throw off the forced removal of all copyrighted major label tracks. During the Summer of 2001, Napster shut down and so did my interest in that particular network. I moved onto a service called LimeWire that I heard of randomly among the many that developed after Napster’s shut down. However, soon I began hearing about huge fines being directed toward customers by the RIAA. I promptly altered my network settings so that I would not be sharing my own music; in other words, I was not allowing people to download the songs I had collected on my library, but I could still download theirs. Years later, after receiving the RMC letter about college students being targeted by the RIAA, I closed my connection with WinMx and went back to buying CDs and occasionally purchasing from the iTunes music store.
The technology that launched file sharing exploded onto the music scene with Napster. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was simply trying to improve the file swapping he observed in Internet Relay Chats (Kusek 100). He united a large group of downloaders looking to trade free songs easily and these new file-sharers soon spread the word of his achievement. Once the RIAA took notice of his creation and its huge following, a high profile legal battle took place. The RIAA won the battle in 2001 and had Napster shut down. This, however, did not kill off online music downloading. A new wave of peer-to-peer networks, also known as P2P networks, developed. The newer P2P network provides a base for computers to transfer files directly from one computer to another, rather than using the central server or directory that Napster had employed. When the RIAA took P2P services like Grokster and Kazaa to court, the judge ruled that there are legitimate applications for these new P2P networks due to the lack of a central server (Adegoke 1). This ruling ended the RIAA’s opportunity to fight file-sharing by going directly to the source, which caused them to start filing lawsuits against individual network users. Their targets were so-called “supernodes” or “significant uploaders of pirated music” (Adrianson 2). This decision launched a popular and extensive controversy relating to many aspects of file-sharing.
A large part of this debate has centered around the question of whether or not file-sharing is as unfavorable as the RIAA believes. Most observe that there is certainly a redistribution of music profits attributed to the digital revolution. The recording industry estimates that they lose around “$4.2 billion to piracy worldwide every year” (Engleman 1). Shipments of recorded music have reportedly “dropped by 26% since 1999” (Not-so-Jolly 1). According to the RIAA, the increase in piracy may also account for significant drops in the top selling album sales. The data shows that “the 10 top selling albums of 2000 accounted for 60 million sales in the United States while the10 top-selling albums of 2002 accounted for just 34 million comparable sales. The record industry’s total sales have also fallen from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $12.6 billion in 2002” (Adrianson 2). A study discussed at length in the next paragraph lists several alternative causes for these numbers including: “poor macroeconomic conditions, a reduced number of album releases, growing competition from other forms of entertainment, a reduction in music variety due to radio consolidation, the cost of independent promoter fees to gain airplay, and possibly a consumer backlash against record industry tactics” (Holland 1). Former Sony Music Executive, Steve Grodon, blames the Internet Service Providers and the manufactures of computers, blank optical disks, CD burners, and MP3 players,” all of which are “facilitating unauthorized file sharing and CD burning” (Paying for Music). The recording industry supporters argue that the upholding of copyright laws ensures that the artists and producers continue to make a profit, which essentially preserves the music market.
Others perceive file sharing not as an interference with industry profits, but as an opportunity for development within the music industry in more than one way. In a debated study by Dr. Felix Oberholzer-Gee of the Harvard Business School and Dr. Koleman S. Strumpf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, results showed that file sharing had virtually no effect on store compact disc sales. The study “even found that for albums with sales over 600,000 copies, every 150 downloads actually increases sales by one copy” (O’Rourke 1). In fact, 50 Cent’s songs were among the top illegal downloads of 2003, yet his album sold nine million copies (Kusek 41). However, the RIAA claims that the Oberholzer-Strumpf study “contradicts the findings of five other studies of P2P activity conducted in 2002-2003”. The RIAA also suggested that this seventeen week study, which included the Christmas season, is not able to reflect the effects of file sharing over the previous three years (Holland 1).
Nevertheless, the Oberholzer-Strumpf results support theories that file-sharing is actually “the most successful and direct form of product sampling ever invented” (Kusek 100). The Internet allows people to navigate through musical selections and explore numerous genres that offline venues will probably never be able to present so readily. Mark Katz demonstrates this in his book Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music by searching on a file-sharing network for two obscure genres: Swedish funk and Vietnamese hardcore rap. He quickly is presented with the “Electric Boys, a Stockholm quartet formed in 1988… [and] their album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride,” as well as the “California-based Vietnamese group inexplicably known as Thai” (166). Another point brought up by those concerned with negative file-sharing portrayals is the fact that the words “piracy” and “file-sharing” are often confused. Piracy is typically referred to as “the activities of organized criminals who manufacture illegal copies of CDs, DVDs, tapes, and records, then photocopy the covers and sell the illicit product on the streets for a steep profit” (Kusek 41). File-sharers are typically “serious music enthusiasts who lack any compelling commercial alternative to getting their need for music filled” (Kusek 42). In lumping file-sharers with the organized crime of music pirates, those opposed to file-sharing make the statistics seem a lot more menacing against online music downloading. This means that the RIAA can present impressive data about music piracy in interviews and articles dealing with file sharing without fear of too many individuals noticing the technical difference.
Despite how one feels about the effects of file-sharing, the campaign against it will nevertheless continue. As expressed in the letter to RMC students, the lawsuits must be a moneymaker or else the RIAA would not continue to waste its time on this losing battle (Copler 4). Since beginning their individual lawsuits, the RIAA has sued thousands of Americans with settlements averaging around $3,000 (Engleman 1). Is this the best way to combat millions of downloaders? Those who oppose the RIAA’s tactics have found several problems in their technique. Many see directly attacking the consumers as a risky move in and of itself. The former President of Grokster (a newer P2P network), Wayne Rosso, describes it as a “scare and intimidation” tactic that will ultimately fail (Adegoke 2). Shortly after Napster’s downfall, Grokster protected the newer wave of P2P networks by winning its legal battle against the RIAA. Many take the stance that the RIAA will never be able to combat 57 million Americans (and millions more foreign file-sharers), however their methods may raise awareness of the possible negative results of file sharing (Adegoke 2). There are even those who believe that the separate lawsuits may, indeed, prove “more costly and time-consuming [for the RIAA] than [they] are worth” (O’Rourke 1). Others complain about the invasion of privacy associated with revealing network identities. The RIAA uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which allows “a special administrative subpoena procedure” to be carried out for “any Internet account holder suspected of unauthorized trading of copyrighted material” (Adrianson 3). Two separate incidents, in which the RIAA used the DMCA, resulted in lawsuits against a retired grandmother and the mother of a 12-year old girl. These incidents have tarnished their public relations image and given their policies a harsh edge. The charges were eventually dropped against the grandmother; however, the mother of the 12-years old settled the suit at $2,000. The DMCA itself is also a subject of privacy debates, as it is subject to substantial abuse by people and organizations with potentially dangerous or inappropriate motives for accessing people’s identities. In fact, James Ellis, the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for SBC, the nation’s leader in telecommunications, admitted that “his company has fought 59 subpoenas issued by a distributor of hardcore gay pornography” (Adrianson 3). However, amending the DMCA to have a greater degree of court supervision may cost more and be much more invasive for consumers than a well crafted subpoena process (Adrianson 4). More court supervision would most likely entail filing a lawsuit prior to sending a subpoena.
A larger debate focuses on whether or not the RIAA’s lawsuits and information distribution campaign is more productive than other restrictive policy options. One option is the “technical fix,” which means that a technical solution will be designed to avoid unauthorized copying. One technical fix is the Digital Rights Management option, which suggests placing “a special code into digitized media that prevents copying” (Adrianson 4). However, if knowledgeable pirates overcame the protective codes, all digital media players would have to be fixed to play only media with a DRM code. Therefore, these technological fixes may restrict innovation and place boundaries much more than the RIAA’s current policy. Another option would be to adopt a blanket license system, which “could authorize copyrighted material to be traded on the networks while providing compensation for the artists and the record labels,” much like the radio licensing system (Adianson, 5). Some P2P networks, such as Grokster, are pushing for this solution. In an interview on NPR, Steve Gordon the former Sony Music executive and current music attorney, explained the advantages of one such blanket license system called the statutory license law trying to be passed through Congress: “record companies limit the release of millions of older songs, which puts the record company at a severe disadvantage with the unauthorized services that can allow anything…the statutory license triumphs this problem” by permitting the use of all copyright material in exchange for a predetermined payment to the copyright owner (Paying for Music).
One of the current successful options is to expand and exploit the online music market by developing legal downloading networks like Apple iTunes, Emusic.com, and Listen.com, which typically offer songs for 99 cents each. The RIAA states that the simultaneous development of this legal market and the abundance of lawsuits was no accident. Jonathan Lamy, a spokesperson for the RIAA, explained, “‘The idea is to bring [illegal file-sharing] down to a level of control where legitimate services can get a foothold in the marketplace and eventually flourish’” (Adrianson 6). Legal file-sharing is an important opportunity for the record companies involved. The new option may allow them to regain their ability to control the music industry. Their new hold on the market may already be displaying growing power over consumers and competition. National Public Radio announced that the U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating anti-competitive practices like price-fixing within online music networks for four global music companies. The most successful legal downloading site, Apple iTunes, is using their success to endorse their other products, which gives them an “unprecedented amount of control over the record business and the technology business.” There could be a “tying violation,” applied to Apples’ music sales being linked to Apple technology. A smaller feud is occurring between Apple’s CEO and the music industry about Apple’s refusal to force customers to pay more for hit songs than “B side songs” (Marketplace Report).
Despite the problems, the future of file-sharing may progress towards legal options if record companies take full advantage of the online market. Even the RIAA agrees that file-sharing is here to stay. Mark Katz displayed several reasons as to why someone would want to pay for downloaded music in his book, Capturing Sound. Illegal P2P file-sharing networks are wracked with flaws and annoyances that many people are probably willing to give up for a small fee. Legal downloading networks have the appeal of ease, speed, reliability, quantity, quality, permanence, additional resources or services, the possibility of directly benefiting the musicians, and, of course, they are legal (Katz 183). As a seasoned file-sharer myself, I will attest to the enormous relief that legal networks bring to the downloading system. While using illegal networks, I often had an enormous amount of trouble locating and downloading quality songs.
The most recent stir in legal file sharing news is the launch of the new Napster. Boasting more than one million tracks of music, Napster is being successfully reborn into the online music world through its new parent company, Roxio. In late 2004, Sonic Solutions, the leader in digital media software, announced that “it was acquiring Roxio’s consumer software division for $80 million in cash and common stock.” While, Roxio, having bought the Napster name, will henceforth focus its business “on the digital music distribution market and change its name to Napster” (Nathans 1). Shawn Fanning, Napster’s creator, now has nothing to do with his revolutionary creation. His new project, Snocap, acts as a “digital middleman” within the file sharing community. Rather than directly selling music legally like Apple iTunes, Snocap works with legal file-sharing software, like Mashboxx, by employing a database of copyrighted music: “When a music fan locates a song on another computer in the network, Snocap checks to see if it is registered in its database. If it is, the song can be purchased or listened to five times for free. [If not,] Mashboxx lets the user have it at no charge” (Dell 2). Fanning is now becoming the record industry’s best friend and his new program may challenge iTunes’ dominance of this new market.
Whatever the future of file-sharing networks, the digital age has left its mark on the music industry. The data surrounding CD sales amidst file sharing appears to be surrounded by hidden prejudices. However, even among this confusion one can see file sharing is not only sticking around, but growing and developing. The RIAA’s campaign has had an impact on the music community, but whether or not its effects have been useful is still widely debated. It is still doubtful, however, that the other options for suppressing file sharing are superior. Legal online music networks seem to be a source of hope for the music industry amidst the chaotic file sharing debate. These legal networks are gaining popularity and raking in lost profits, but they are also struggling with flaws. The music community still has to explore and develop a feasible solution to these issues.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More Drafting/ Research

The Internet defines the future of the music community. Online music downloading is rapidly gaining popularity and appears to be here to stay. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a two pronged campaign in order to dissuade growing numbers of illegal file swapping and other online copyright infringements. Their most recent method of discouraging file sharers has included individual law suits against heavy sharers and sending out the message to parents and network users, especially college students, about the negative effects of file sharing. Conflicting data and opinions have caused much debate among the music community concerning whether file sharing is the threat to the future of music that the RIAA and the music industry believe it to be and whether the RIAA’s current campaign is the best way to control file-sharing.
The music community has been revolutionized by the recent popularity and obsession surrounding internet freedom and technological advances. The mass movement of people to communicate through this new medium has led our country into a digital age of music. Technology has made exchanging and copying music extremely fast, cheap, and readily available, especially on the internet. Advertisers, artists, and record companies profiting from CD sales are disgruntled by this fast, growing exchange of free copyrighted music. Major record companies, led by the RIAA, are fighting back, because they feel that file swapping is a threat to their previously unchecked ability to dominate format changes and availability of merchandise. Artists in the music community typically vary on whether they feel file sharing should be condemned. Many top-selling artists, such as Britney Spears and Eminem, have offered their full support towards RIAA tactics (Digital Age 2) and disapprove of all illegal file sharing. Fledgling artists typically enjoy the ability to distribute their music through file sharing to increase awareness and create a fan base. The music loving community, otherwise viewed as the music consumers, has a wide rage of opinions on the matter. Many file sharers view their habit as harmless and a way to discover music. Nevertheless, file-sharing consequences, as seen in recent e-mails to the RMC community, are far-reaching. In a follow-up letter sent to the students in the RMC community early February 2006, a warning from the CIO and Director of ITS stated: “Be aware that since sending this warning in early January the college has received two additional warnings from the RIAA. The RIAA is obviously taking a closer look this year so everybody needs to be aware of their chances of being tagged for music copyright infringement violation” (Copler 1)!
Whether or not I am affected by the lawsuits personally, the RIAA message has intimidated and affected my file-sharing habits. As a long time participant in file-sharing networks including Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and WinMx, I have noticed the effects of the RIAA’s legal battles and actions on both the networks’ development and my own downloading habits. Downloading brings files from a central device to a network computer, whereas uploading brings files from a network computer to a central device. I began downloading music while in middle school to burn onto CDs and trade with my neighbor. This habit was propelled by the exciting new technology, Napster. I typed in a song, waited for results from the music libraries of thousands or millions of users logged on, identified what appeared to be what I was looking for, waited for the typically slow download, and listened, hoping I didn’t accidentally introduce porn onto my computer. As the RIAA began winning its battle with Napster, the music file names became more and more cryptic. The artists and song names would be spelled incorrectly to throw off the forced removal of all copyrighted major label tracks. During the Summer of 2001, Napster shut down and so did my interest in that particular network. I moved onto a service called LimeWire that I heard of randomly among the many that developed after Napster’s shut down. However, soon I began hearing about huge fines being directed toward customers by the RIAA. I promptly altered my network settings so that I would not be sharing my own music, in other words, I was not allowing people to download the songs I had collected on my library, but I could still download theirs. Years later, after receiving the RMC letter about college students being targeted by the RIAA, I closed my connection with WinMx and went back to buying CDs and occasionally purchasing from the iTunes music store.
The technology that launched file sharing exploded onto the music scene with Napster. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was simply trying to improve the file swapping he observed in Internet Relay Chats (Kusek 100). He united a large group of downloaders looking to trade free songs easily and these new file-sharers soon spread the word of his achievement. Once the RIAA took notice of his creation and its huge following, a high profile legal battle took place. The RIAA won the battle in 2001 and had Napster shut down. This, however, did not kill off online music downloading. A new wave of peer-to-peer networks, also known as P2P networks, developed. The newer P2P network provides a base for computers to transfer files directly from one computer to another, rather than using the central server or directory that Napster had employed. When the RIAA took P2P services like Grokster and Kazaa to court, the judge ruled that there are legitimate applications for these new P2P networks due to the lack of a central server (Adegoke 1). This ruling ended the RIAA’s opportunity to fight file-sharing by going directly to the source, which caused them to start filing lawsuits against individual network users. Their targets were so-called “supernodes” or “significant uploaders of pirated music” (Adrianson 2). This decision launched a popular and extensive controversy relating to many aspects of file-sharing.
A large part of this debate has centered around the question of whether or not file-sharing is as bad as the RIAA believes. Most observe that there is certainly a redistribution of music profits attributed to the digital revolution. The recording industry estimates losses around “$4.2 billion to piracy worldwide every year” (Engleman 1). Shipments of recorded music have reportedly “dropped by 26% since 1999” (Not-so-Jolly 1). According to the RIAA, the increase in piracy may also account for significant drops in the top selling album sales. The data shows that “the 10 top selling albums of 2000 accounted for 60 million sales in the United States while the10 top-selling albums of 2002 accounted for just 34 million comparable sales. The record industry’s total sales have also fallen from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $12.6 billion in 2002” (Adrianson 2). The recording industry supporters argue that the upholding of copyright laws ensures that the artists and producers continue to make a profit, which essentially preserves the music market.
Others perceive file sharing not as an interference with industry profits, but as an opportunity for development within the music industry in more than one way. In a debated study by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, results showed:
after comparing download data from file-sharing providers with store compact disc sales, one has little or no effect on the other…in the worst case scenario it might take 5,000 downloads to reduce the sales of an album by a single copy…Researchers have even found that for albums with sales over 600,000 copies, every 150 downloads actually increases sales by one copy. (O’Rourke 1)
In fact, 50 Cent’s songs were among the top illegal downloads of 2003, yet his album sold nine million copies (Kusek 41). These kind of findings support theories that file-sharing is actually “the most successful and direct form of product sampling ever invented” (Kusek 100). The Internet allows people to navigate through musical selections and explore numerous genres that offline venues will probably never be able to present so readily. Mark Katz demonstrates this in his book Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music by searching on a file-sharing network for two obscure genres: Swedish funk and Vietnamese hardcore rap. He quickly is presented with the “Electric Boys, a Stockholm quartet formed in 1988… [and] their album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride,” as well as the “California-based Vietnamese group inexplicably known as Thai” (166). Another point brought up by those concerned by negative file-sharing portrayals is the fact that the words “piracy” and “file-sharing” are often confused. Piracy is typically referred to as “the activities of organized criminals who manufacture illegal copies of CDs, DVDs, tapes, and records, then photocopy the covers and sell the illicit product on the streets for a steep profit” (Kusek 41). File-sharers are typically “serious music enthusiasts who lack any compelling commercial alternative to getting their need for music filled” (Kusek 42). In lumping file-sharers with the organized crime of music pirates, the statistics seem a lot more menacing against online music downloading.
Despite how one feels about the effects of file-sharing, the campaign against it will nevertheless continue. Since beginning their individual lawsuits, the RIAA has sued thousands of Americans with settlements averaging around $3,000 (Engleman 1). Is this the best way to combat millions of downloaders? Those who oppose the RIAA’s tactics have found several problems in their technique. Many see directly attacking the consumers as a risky move in and of itself. The President of Grokster, Wayne Rosso describes it as a “scare and intimidation” tactic that will ultimately fail (Adegoke 2). Many take the stance that the RIAA will never be able to combat 57 million Americans (and millions more foreign file-sharers), however their methods may raise awareness (Adegoke 2). The separate lawsuits may, indeed, prove “more costly and time-consuming than [they] are worth” (O’Rourke 1). Others complain about the invasion of privacy associated with revealing network identities. The RIAA uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which allows “a special administrative subpoena procedure” to be carried out for “any Internet account holder suspected of unauthorized trading of copyrighted material” (Adrianson 3). Two separate incidents, in which the RIAA used the DMCA, resulted in lawsuits against a retired grandmother and the mother of a 12-year old girl. These incidents have tarnished their public relations image and given their policies a harsh edge. The DMCA itself is also a subject of privacy debates, as it is subject to substantial abuse by people and organizations with potentially dangerous or inappropriate motives for accessing people’s identities. However, amending this act to have a greater degree of court supervision may cost more and be much more invasive for consumers (Adrianson 4).
A larger debate focuses on whether or not this method is more productive than other restrictive policy options. One option is the “technical fix,” which means that a technical solution will be designed to avoid unauthorized copying. The Digital Rights Management option suggests placing “a special code into digitized media that prevents copying” (Adrianson 4). If knowledgeable pirates overcame the protective codes, all digital media players would have to be fixed to play only media with a DRM code. Therefore, these technological fixes may restrict innovation and place boundaries much more than the RIAA’s current policy. Another option would be to adopt a blanket license system, which “could authorize copyrighted material to be traded on the networks while providing compensation for the artists and the record labels,” much like the radio licensing system (Adianson, 5). Some P2P networks, such as Grokster, are pushing for this solution.
One of the current successful options is to expand and exploit the online music market by developing legal downloading networks like Apple iTunes, Emusic.com, and Listen.com, which typically offer songs for 99 cents each. The RIAA states that the simultaneous development of this legal market and the abundance of lawsuits was no accident. Jonathan Lamy, a spokesperson for the RIAA, explained, “‘The idea is to bring [illegal file-sharing] down to a level of control where legitimate services can get a foothold in the marketplace and eventually flourish’” (Adrianson 6). Legal file-sharing is an important opportunity for the record companies involved. The new option may allow them to regain their ability to control the music industry. Their new hold on the market may already display growing power over consumers and competition. National Public Radio announced that the U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating anti-competitive practices like price-fixing within online music networks for four global music companies. The most successful legal downloading site, Apple iTunes, is using their success to endorse their other products, which gives them an “unprecedented amount of control over the record business and the technology business.” There could be a “tying violation,” applied to Apples’ music sales being linked to Apple technology (Marketplace Report). A smaller feud is occurring between Apple’s CEO and the music industry about their
The future of file-sharing may progress towards legal options if record companies take full advantage of the online market. Even the RIAA agrees that file-sharing is here to stay. Mark Katz displayed several reasons as to why someone would want to pay for downloaded music in his book, Capturing Sound. P2P file-sharing networks are wracked with flaws and annoyances that many people are probably willing to give up for a small fee. Legal downloading networks have the appeal of ease, speed, reliability, quantity, quality, permanence, additional resources or services, the possibility of directly benefiting the musicians, and, of course, they are legal (Katz 183). As a seasoned file-sharer myself, I will attest to the enormous relief that legal networks bring to the downloading system. With illegal networks I often had an enormous amount of trouble locating and downloading quality songs. Despite this business opportunity, the article “Not-so-Jolly Rogers” points out that it still “looks as if the music industry will also resort to old-fashioned consolidation and cost-cutting to preserve profits” (2). Whatever the future of file-sharing networks, the digital age has left its mark on the music industry.