Thursday, June 24, 2004

Free music

It seems that while I was sleeping the government, specifically Orrin Hatch, Rep senator from Utah (somewhere I used to live), is helping to draft a bill to curtail music theft on the Internet. I read it at

The article says, "Proponents argue that the bill focuses on curbing illegal activity on the Internet. "In the film 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' the leering 'Child Catcher' lured children into danger with false promises of 'free lollipops,'" said Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "Tragically, some corporations now seem to think that they can legally profit by inducing children to steal; that they can legally lure children and others with false promises of 'free music'."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't music that comes over the air waves, AM & FM, free music? And can't you copy the music from the air waves, just like copying a movie on VHS, onto casette tape or burn that onto a CD? Can't you even make copies of that music and give it to your friends or copy your tapes and CDs and give them (or sell them) to your friends, relatives, etc.? Doesn't that also make music that you can listen to over the Internet air waves from Internet radio stations fair game?

That's not to say there isn't some free downloading and burning going on, but we aren't talking about people pirating music to make and resell CDs at a much more reasonable cost, but people listening to music over the digital air waves and burning a copy.

I'm not against making a profit -- and the music companies have made an obscenely large amount of profit at the expense of the consumer and the artist -- but doesn't this begin to smack of another loss of freedom? Think about it. If you can't download music from the net and burn it onto a CD or capture it on your MP3 player, then legally, with this bill in place, you also will not be able to do the same with music on the radio, television, or tapes you currently own or have borrowed from friends. It may seem like a big leap from a bill to shut down theft of music on the Internet, but it's really not. Give them an inch and the government will soon take a mile -- or much more.

A lot of this comes from the music industry who are down in the mouth about low bottom line profits. They are matching current sales since the advent of Internet music theft and piracy with sales in the recent past that show a distinctinly downward trend. Let's face it, the music industry has made us dance to their tune, like the mice in Hamelin dancing to the Pied Piper's tune, every time a new innovation in listening pleasure hits the market place. Old 78s gave way to 45s and LPs, which gave way to 8-track tapes, which gave way to casette tapes, which gave way to CDs, which gave way to MP3s and personal players like iPod. Every time a new way to listen to music comes out the consumer has to buy their favorite music on the new format, thus producing a very big spike in music sales, which the music industry execs believe should continue.

But let's be realistic. Even if a bunch of kids burn copies of their favorite music from Internet web sites, how much does that really amount to in dollars and cents? It's just like Bill Gates and Microsoft so upset about people sharing computer programs and causing them to lose a few hundred thousand dollars in a multi-billion dollar industry, so they made the new program CDs single use, which means you can't share files or programs and you can't even use the same program on more than one computer in your own home unless you either buy multiple programs or multi-user programs, which cost a great deal more.

What bothers me most about this, other than the beginning of the end of personal freedoms, is that the major American past time is no longer baseball, football, or even tennis and soccer, it's making money no matter how many people you have to step on or kill in the process. It doesn't matter that these corporate executives and bean counters make more money than they can possibly spend in their own or their offsprings' lifetimes for a good ten generations, but that it has all come down to money and the acquisition of money no matter what.

These wealthy piranhas talk about money as if it was the American dream, but that's not so. The American dream was a home of your own, a family, and a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. But watch out, folks, because that has been change, irradiated by greed and inoculated by selfishness to the point that the American dream has been perverted into wealth at any cost...and that includes the little people who make these people wealthy in the first place.

I'm not advocating theft, but I do believe there has to be a limit to what the greedy can take away from us. The question is whether or not we will continue to let the wealthy make policies that open the way for more loss of the freedoms we have all taken for granted or if we will all rise up and show them they can no longer climb to the top on our backs.

You don't realize it yet, but you and I are the ones who put the coins in these greedy biscuit eaters' pockets. We have the control and the money and if we keep it in our hot, grimy little fists they will not be able to take anything more away from us. We outnumber them and, as Rome found out in a very costly and dangerous campaign against an untrained band of slaves and gladiators, we can end their tyranny. Question is when will you get enough and put a stop to the greed and the parceling away of our freedoms bit by sneaky bit.

The Child Catcher indeed lured children with lollipops and treats, but this time it's the people who are being caught and sold a prison for the price of sugar candy.

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