"What the [expletive] do you think you're doing?" says Madonna on listening to one of her downloaded, planted mp3s from some napsterlike service. Jon Healey writes that companies trying to start legitimate music downloading services are asking the same question of Madonna, because they feel she is hurting legitimate downloading business ventures. As mentioned before, she is making her "American Life" album available directly to fans. But the NY Times thinks it's all about the buzz. Wouldn't it be ironic if all the controversy in music came down to Madonna promoting herself: "'I live the American dream,' Madonna sings mournfully, going on to rap about soy latte, yoga class and nannies before saying, 'I just realized that nothing is as it seems.'" Okay, but the real deal is getting all artists paid, and getting fans who want mp3s off the hook for stealing and into some reasonable legal model for getting music. Not to mention stopping lawsuits against students who make search engines cataloging their university's servers, for 87 gazillion dollars.
There is also this argument comparing the current state of legal and illegal downloading of music to 19th century coal distribution. Apparently, coal carts would lose half their load to street urchins before making their first delivery, and various patented locking systems were invented to protect the cargo. Ultimately, the distribution model was changed from individual deliveries to one where central heating, provided by landlords who purchased in quantity solved the problem, saving everyone money and ending the coal theft model. So the comparison is to a distribution model where music theft wouldn't be attractive, but where everyone would benefit there too.Posted by Mary Hodder at April 17, 2003 11:00 PM