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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

To protect and stifle..

As a writer, I am of course concerned with the protection of intellectual property. However, I am an advocate of file-sharing on the internet as a means of propagating works that might not have a chance for circulating outside of commercial channels. And extending the circulation of popular works, which, in my opinion, stimulate the commercial market.

As a techie, I admire the development of peer-to-peer technology as a significant independent trend. Major entertainment companies are suing and pushing for legislation to outlaw this technology, its users, its developers and inevitably, and this is what I detest most, it's future. File sharing is a benefit to everyone. The development of a viable back channel for the distribution of popular art improves culture and communication.

The developers of this technology are doing it at their own cost, on spec, as it were. When Napster, a pioneer in this field, was shut down by legal action, the technology quickly sold to a major distributer. You'd have to be blind not to realize that this technology will revolutionize the distribution of music, film, animation, etc.

The Industry has trotted out artists to lobby on behalf of its cause, but artists on their own, some of them, have come out in favor of this technology as a valuable, fan-driven means of distribution. The cases and proponents on all sides are expanding the scope of this controversy and filling in the blanks, instead of just firing them, on the shotgun marriage of art, business and technology.

From the WaPo:
A prominent group of musicians and artists, breaking with colleagues and the major entertainment studios, is urging the Supreme Court not to hold online file-sharing services responsible for the acts of users who illegally trade songs, movies and software.

The group, which includes representatives of Steve Winwood, rapper Chuck D and the band Heart, said in court papers to be filed today that it condemns the stealing of copyrighted works. But it argues that popular services such as Grokster, Kazaa and others also provide a legal and critical alternative for artists to distribute their material. Rapper Chuck D is among a group of artists who argue that Web sites for file-sharing allow musicians to reach a larger audience.

"Musicians are not universally united in opposition to peer-to-peer file sharing" as the major records companies claim, according to a draft of the group's court filing. "To the contrary, many musicians find peer-to-peer technology . . . allows them easily to reach a worldwide online audience. And to many musicians, the benefits of this . . . strongly outweigh the risks of copyright infringement."

...Before online file sharing, "distribution of recordings to retailers was controlled largely by a few large national record companies and by several 'independent' labels," they argue. "Young people aspiring to be musicians faced daunting odds of ever being signed by a record label."
Another good story, covering the legal issues, Showdown Looms for P2P Networks, from PC World is here and a related Crackpot Chronicles post is here.

// posted by Ellen @  05:02   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.


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