On May 2, 2000, Lars Ulrich, drummer for the band Metallica, announced that his group was suing Napster, a free file-sharing service that let fans download music online. During the press conference outside Napster’s headquarters, Ulrich presented the company with a giant stack of papers listing the names of 300,000 Napster users. His assertion: Napster was enabling these people to steal music. Continue reading
As the US Copyright Office pushes forward with plans for the largest overhaul of copyright in decades, it is important not to fall back to the same patterns that have eviscerated musicians and other creative producers. These copyright rewrites always end-up making powerful copyright interests more powerful. Continue reading
Previously, I mentioned that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) won its first lawsuit against people sharing music via the Internet. As long as there has been copyright legislation, there has been “piracy” – I’m sure that someone was bootlegging print copies of Beethoven’s symphonies. However, no one had been charged for pirating something where they were in turn not profiting from its sale. Sharing music online is not the same thing as selling illegally reproduced music. Furthermore, all of this is being done in the name of the musicians – the RIAA argues that when people download music on file-sharing programs, they are stealing from musicians. But where is the money going from the RIAA’s litigation? Typically the money from lawsuits (not just about file-sharing) goes back to the RIAA and the major record labels. What follows is a brief explanation of why the RIAA and the major record labels are more exploitative of musicians than file-sharers. Future blog posts will further elucidate the erroneous nature of the music industry’s arguments about file-sharing.