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by mg at 03:54 PM on December 21, 2000

A truly strange event happened yesterday, Napster and partner Bertlesmann (BMG), have announced plans to work with German authorities to prevent downloading of Nazi music. Now, protecting copyrights is one thing, stopping the transfer of music based on content is a completely other deal.

True, Napster is providing a service, and if they decide that folks can't use that service in a certain situation, that is their right. But, however logical that may be, it doesn't quite jive. Napster's tact on all those lawsuits filed against them was that they were just the conduit, and if the users of their program decided to break the law by downloading copyrighted music that it was out of their hands. It seems now, though, that that only applies to some laws.

Okay, okay, burning crosses on peoples lawns and making lamp shades out of their skin is an entirely different kind of offense then trading music and depriving struggling musicians like Lars Ulrich of their rightful due, but it really does come down to the same principle.

If people are going to trade music, you can't stop them from trading a particular type of music, whether that be copyrighted material or hateful material. Breaking the law is breaking the law, no matter what law it is. If Napster can't stop the one crime how do they propose to stop the other?

What is really creepy is what this says about the future of free speech on the 'net. Sure, Germany doesn't have the same kind of groovy Constitution and Bill of Rights that we do here in the States, but the Internet is a giant web of information, and if the folks in Germany can't deal with Nazi music, why punish a white supremacist in Missouri?

A lot of Arab countries have issues with sex and alcohol, so would that mean I, here in New York City, won't be able to go to Napster and download the extended dance mix of Snoop Doggy Dog's "Gin and Juice" from someone's hard drive in Southern California?

This is a lowest common denominator type attitude that cleans the media so much that everything becomes one big, shiny, happy, boring pile of shite. It's bad enough, here in the U.S., that I can't hear the word "fuck" on the radio, or see a woman's naked breasts on broadcast TV because there might be children watching, but the Internet for chrissake, I should be able to do whatever the hell I want! So should you, we should unite and do something about it!

Like, the Million Email 03/, for example. The kids over at MP3.com have been in just as much legal trouble, as Napster but have not quite generated the same kind of press. MP3.com was sued because they were allowing users to beam information about what CDs they owned and then play the CDs from any computer connected to the Internet. The way it works is you physically insert a disk into your computer. You computer talk to MP3.com and says, "Yep, this is the real McCoy."

For some reason the big 5 recording companies had a problem with that, whatever. The courts agreed, finding in favor of the recording industry. But they didn't find, exactly, that what MP3.com was doing was illegal. Now, MP3.com has settle with a couple of those companies and is, again, offering the Beam It feature on their my.mp3.com.

MP3.com now wants a law on the books saying, hey, people should be allowed to listen to music they own no matter where they are and no matter what format that music is in. Which is a great idea. There is currently a bill before congress to that effect, Music Owners Listening Rights Act of 2000.

Now, MP3.com and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) want people to write their senators and representatives and put the pressure on to pass this bill. So go, like, write a letter or something.

comments (1)

I still don't understand how Napster was ever allowed to publish *copyrighted* material against artists' permission. People have a tendancy to ennoble starving artists and demonize successful ones, so when Metallica bitched about Napster, the public said "you're already so rich, what's the difference you greedy assholes?"
Nevertheless, excluding one genre of music consitutes a gross violation of free will, an indelible *human* right. If one wishes, he or she should have access to "The Nun Rapers'" latest single. Curtailment of white supremacist music reflects both an unwillingness to grant people their own decisions, and coercion brought about by the politically-correct court of public opinion. If you don't like something, don't listen to it. Why is that so difficult? [and yes, I did realize the original post is two years old.]

by douchenation at December 21, 2002 2:02 AM

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