posted Sep 15, 2000

All The World's A Bootleg General IP Issues9/15/2000; 4:28:29 PM '... Several of the Nirvana songs on Napster were live recordings of extremely poor sound quality, the vocals barely audible through audience noise. I assumed that these were bootlegged recordings, which by definition are hard to come by. I labeled the files "bootleg-rare." And I added them to the CD as lagniappe. 'Napster allows each member of the "Napster community" to search other members' hard drives for particular songs. My live bootlegs attracted enormous, even rabid interest--they were uploaded by dozens of people, who in turn passed them on to many others. Each time I went on Napster and searched for Nirvana I saw them on other people's machines. Not only did this further add to my guilt, it made me wonder what I had on my machine. Bootlegs are always in demand, but why were these particular bootlegs so special? Investigating, I discovered to my chagrin that these recordings were not bootlegs at all but songs from a perfectly ordinary live album that had been ineptly converted to digital form by enthusiastic but technically unsophisticated Nirvana fans. I had inadvertently reinvented them as precious bootlegs and passed them on to Kurt Cobain aficionados hungry for any unheard notes from the master.'... Although today copyright is mainly treated as a means to reward creators--or castigated as a scam that lets big media companies lock up culture--it has a second, rarely mentioned function: affixing the form of works of art and science. ... The closest thing I can imagine to a solution is for musicians to fix their music in some tangible, immutable form that can only be played on special, authorized machines. I've even thought of a name for it: the "compact disc."'In the phrase "to fix their music in some tangible, immutable form that can only be played on special, authorized machines.", the "that can only be played on special, authorized machines" part is completely superfluous. Once the music is in tangible, immutable form, it's already as protected as it's going to be.I'm certainly not used to articles about Napster that don't make a moral point about the rightness or wrongness of use, it just makes a practical recommendation against using Napster because of quality control issues. I kept futilely hunting for the "Napster good" or "Napster bad" part... felt kinda wierd.


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