More Napster Pablum

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From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Thu Jul 27 2000 - 20:18:14 PDT

...hey, babies gotta eat sumptin. ;-)

Okay, so let's say I'm a 13 year-old inner-city kid who loves Eminem but
can't even afford the latest CD single. I can go down to the way-hip
city library, find this CD in the card catalog, and check this CD out.
I can furthermore tape that CD over that really tired Dr. Dre funk-t
that I taped a few months back. Granted, I'm breaking the law. But is
the library in any way culpable?

Why isn't the RIAA trying to block sales to public libraries? I mean,
shit, they're not only cataloging the stuff, they're also *providing the
content.* Doesn't get much more black and white than that, does it?


Let's drill down on Jim's points a little bit more:

* Novelty

While what I sent over the wire was admittedly a first, very rough, incomplete draft, I really do think it's novel to cast this as one of the first and most obvious instances of technological change exceeding the capacity of society, law, business, etc. to accommodate that change.

* Overly general and inaccurate characterization of "technologists"

While this is an argument of definitions, granted. I should have said "certain technologists." But --- by the way --- I did provide a pretty clear expansion of that already in the first post.

* Rate of change, net vs. telegraph, railroad, "industrialization"

Net: 50% household penetration in 10 years in less than a decade. Telephone, for comparison: 35-40 years +/- 5 years to reach same. Telegraph: penetration equivalent to railroad penetration of townships --- people don't and never have had household telegraphs --- I don't have a figure here but no less than 20 years. "Industrialization" too vague to guage rates of adoption / penetration.

* Since software for home use is still mostly distributed on CDs in boxes

Support that. Over 70% of people that buy a home computer *never buy another application for that computer* except for games and edutainment / content titles. I'd have a hard time digging up the support for that, and it's likely stale anyway: that's a recollection from the market research that supported the first and second Active Paper business plans, back in '94-'95.

* If you will think about these issues critically

I've done that, and the unfortunate and somewhat shocking conclusion that I've reached is that there's something fundamentally screwed about the notion of bits-as-property. That's not what I *want* to think, because I make my money creating novel bits. But that's where I've arrived at, nonetheless. The whole incident points out two things to me: (1) our notion of bits-as-property and the laws, business practices, etc. surrounding that notion have to change, and (2) we're hitting the point where technology is effecting social change more quickly than society and our institutions can accomodate it. Jim, if you don't agree with those conclusions, that's cool; this is an *op ed* piece, which means *opinion.*

Peace, anarchy, and evil smileys.



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