Thursday, June 20, 23:20 CDT

bargain bin digression

So I'm in a music store, the generic mall variety, feeling disgusted that on what the theater left of my twenty dollar bill, I can't afford a CD. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon I'm digging through bargain bin cassette tapes.

My parents have a million of these things (approximately half of which are John Denver albums or assorted Christmas music, which gives you some idea of the warping my youthful tastes were subjected to), but by the time I started buying music the balance had shifted to CDs. The only two tapes I own and can locate are a copy of U2 - THE BEST OF 1980-1990 and something by Creedence Clearwater Revival that has "Midnight Special" and "Wrote a Song For Everyone" on it.

I wound up grabbing a couple. Everybody Knows this is Nowhere because I like the title and didn't have any Neil Young. And one calling itself Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, which seems pretty ambitious for a single tape. Eight bucks.

Two things I have learned from this experience: $3.99 is about the right amount of money to pay for a chunk of music, or at least it feels like it is. At $3.99 I'd buy something every time I walked into a music store. Heck, I'd buy several somethings.

Secondly, tapes are a way more gratifying sensory experience than CD's. Pulling them out of the little box, popping them into the player, the solid little *chunk* noise when you hit play or stop, flipping the tape over when you hit the end of a side... It's all good.

Oh yeah, and I really dig Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.

the world's sport

I have never before in my life cared even slightly about soccer. But I begin to see how maybe one could.

but not least

...Audiogalaxy as song sharing service finally shudders to a near halt under legal assault. This is no less depressing for its inevitability. AG's massive shortcomings - the closed-source, the spyware, its dependence on the mp3 format, and most of all its centralized vulnerability to legal attack - don't change the simple fact that it was the most effective music sharing service yet unleashed on the world. Nor do they reduce my gratitude for the music its hosted artists and editorial departments exposed me to.

Let's be honest. If you know what I'm talking about, and you aren't especially happy about it, we probably have something in common. Namely, we're engaged in copyright violation.

Can we just stop being mealy-mouthed about this? We're breaking the law. The vast majority of Audiogalaxy's function, the function that gave them power to act (legally) as distributors and advocates of some very deserving artists, was to enable quick and easy downloading of just about any song.

For the sake of argument, and by way of acknowledging something I've said fairly often myself, that doesn't mean copyright violation in every instance. I own sanctioned recordings of some significant fraction of the songs I have downloaded (we'll ignore that I purchased half of them after the download). Another very appreciable chunk are explicitly intended for distribution by the artists. Many are live recordings which fall under taping policies that allow their gratis distribution. Occasionally, they are even free of copyright. Call this a substantial non-infringing use if it makes you feel better and you need the psychological crutch.

Most of the time, what quick and easy downloading of any song means is quick and easy copyright violation.

I don't know about you. Perhaps I'm casting undeserved aspersions on my readerbase. Maybe you don't have a single illicitly ripped mp3 anywhere on your hard drive. Maybe you don't so much as possess a single CD some random friend or acquaintance burned you. Maybe no one ever made you a mix tape, when that was what people did instead of burning CD's. Maybe you've never said anything like Dude, these guys are so good, here, just download 'The Whole Shebang'... or You like it? Don't let me forget to dub you a copy... If not, I apologize for assuming you share my crimes.

I don't know about you. I am not racked with guilt.

Later, maybe I will try to make some point about morality and law and all that jazz. Maybe I'll even try to make some coherent statement of my personal beliefs on the whole muddled concept of intellectual property. Like there aren't more important things and you haven't heard it all before. Right now, I have something very simple and straightforward to say.

Fuck the RIAA.

Fuck the RIAA and all their ilk. There are bigger issues and greater evils, even within the bounds of media technology, than what they're doing here. Still, this is part of something bigger, and by itself it's enough to earn my undying contempt.