This is actually from the comments from a post I made the other day. I just figured that I typed so much that I may as well re-post it for those who don’t read the comments. I apologize for going off on a long, long tangent on this one. The conversation starts off with a comment from Chip about the RIAA user lawsuits and I kind of mushroom it out into a rant on popular culture and music rights in general. Again, I apologize for the length.

Attacking users who are doing illegal things makes a hell of a lot more sense than attacking perfectly legal file sharing programs. It’s similar to attacking VCR makers because some people use VCR’s to illegally copy tapes for resale.

Chip – 07/05/02 08:58pm

True. I agree from a lawyer-ish point of view but attacking users is only going to do one thing: alienate the rest of the users. I think MORE people will be opposed to “big music” if they start attacking listeners. For example, AOL Time Warner owns both Warner Records and AOL. How are AOL users going to feel when they’re being targeted by the company that owns their service? “Sure, go ahead and pay us $20 to use our internet, but don’t download music with it or we’re going to sue your ass.” It doesn’t make any sense. And Warner Records isn’t even that big (well, its not small either). The biggies (like Sony and RCA) have even more to lose. It’s their own fault for not embracing digital music 7 years ago. Now they’re fighting against a system that has given freedom back to the user at the most basic level. The fight for digital rights and digital media protection will go on until everyone (both companies and users) figure out a safe middle ground. The companies want complete and total control over our computers, files and music and we obviously want the opposite. The only way we’re going to “win” is to not buy music from them, not buy the newest computer technology (with DMA embedded) and not support them in any way, shape or form. On the flip side, they’re only going to stop fighting us when we cave in and let our freedoms be infringed upon. So, now it’s our turn to decide. Do we want to stick it out and stick it to “big business” or do we want our lives controlled for us? Theres unfortunately no middle ground on this one. The recent terrorist events have even helped the situation. It’s softened everyone up a little. It’s a lot easier to make an argument for airport searches at this point. Not that I’m against airport security in anyway, because I’m not, but 10 years ago if you asked to look in someone’s bag they would have thrown a fit. It’s the “foot in the door” that agencies like the FBI and CIA needed to be able to have free reign over information, security and freedoms that they wanted. For example, what if they said something random like “banks aren’t going to be open on Saturdays anymore… for your protection of course.” How many people would just simply go along with it thinking that it’s in everyones best interest? Now, that was a really bad example, but it illustrates my point. That at the moment, we’re willing to give up “little freedoms” in exchange for security. These digital rights are hiding in and amongst other rights and so people are just going to give them up thinking that it’s in our best interest for the moment. Guess what… if you give them up now you’re never going to get them back.

Matt – 07/06/02 01:01pm

To continue…

At least, that’s how I feel. Getting back to music, that’s why I’m trying very hard not to buy music from major labels. It’s hard since I enjoy music very much but I feel that basic user rights are something important and I don’t want to support efforts to change that. I’m trying to buy music from small indie labels that still support the music and the artists. Labels such as SKINT, BedRock and Vandit. Chris is probably the only other person to have heard of those but that’s ok. They’re all small European techno labels. On average, they only produce limited runs of CDs and barely make the money back from them. They’re also home to some of the best music I’ve heard in years. I think the problem is that there’s too many people “buying in” to the big corporate pushed music and not enough people exploring smaller labels and unknown artists. This is a cycle that’s gone on since the invention of record companies. It’s true. Back in the early 90’s I was listening to Ani Difranco because it was new and different and didn’t sound like any of the alternative rock crap that was on the radio. I was loving it. I felt special and different. But just look at how many people “bought in” to Nirvana and Alice n’ Chains. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the system. 10 years later it still hasn’t changed. Now the “kids” are buying Eminem and Brittany instead of Kurt Cobain. The people that aren’t “buying in or selling out” are the ones worth fighting this for. You Ani fans, you indie label fans, you know how important music is and why your rights to it are important. The problem is that there’s more of them than us. We’re not going to win the popularity battle anytime soon but the majority of those “sheep” will continue to let things like digital rights slide so long as they get their hands on the latest rap album. I don’t know what I can add to any of this. My opinion is rather clear. I don’t like popular culture or popular music and I probably never will.

Wow. Looking at all that I can’t really think of any way to clarify my stance on this sort of thing. I don’t like big record labels, corporate music, MTV, new “digital rights management” technologies or losing freedoms. I guess that’s the point. I bet everyone that’s actually read down this far is saying “ok Matt, time to get down off your soap box” and that’s ok. I don’t mind voicing my opinion on this one though because this is one we could theoretically win. If enough of us complain then maybe we can change things. I doubt it’s going to happen since most of the generation after us are already corporate drones but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to stand up and be counted when they ask who doesn’t like it.

Ok, I again apologize for the length on this one. I actually don’t think anyone is actually going to read this far, and I don’t blame you. At any rate, it’s time to get cleaned up for the day. I think we’re playing some network games tonight if I’m not mistaken. I’ve also got to go to Radio Shack at some point and look for a cable splitter that doesn’t cause interference with my modem signal.

That is all. (for the moment) Hehehe.