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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Monday, April 23 2001

Well duh

Yesterday I discovered something I'd missed in all this discussion of Napster and mp3 digital audio files. The lightbulb that clicked on in my mind was an ad for a local computer store touting a CD player capable of playing both regular CDs and mp3 file collections burned onto a CD. The price of the player caught my attention; only $59.95—the first CD player bought for one of the boys on his birthday when he was a teenager, years ago, cost as much then and played only standard record company CDs. But then some small print really made me look again. It said a single mp3 CD is capable of playing ten hours of music!

What? I said to Kevin, my now-25-year-old who also downloads via Napster and burns CDs. I never heard that before. But before he could even respond, I was doing the math, even as math-bereft as my mind is. Yes, the "whole point" of mp3 files is that, compared to "normal" CD music tracks, they're miniscule. (Yes, that's the "whole point" even if I've missed it up to now.) My brother Bob finds that he can copy up to 26 songs in regular format on the CDs he burns to rearrange the play sequences, over twice the number of songs normally included on a standard store-bought pre-recorded CD. But a 650-megabyte CD (the standard recordable CD size) could hold 180 songs from my playlist!

That certainly is enough music to get you through a long day's driving without having to hear anything twice. This dawn breaking in my fogged-over grey matter puts two things into somewhat altered light. 1. No wonder the music companies fear Napster and, in more particular, the mp3 format. And 2. Napster's claim that the struggle in the courts over the service it renders is really mainly about the way people get their music is even more true, if that's possible, now.

It doesn't change the ethical landscape, other than demonstrating why the claims are so strong. Where big bucks are involved, claims are always made loudly and with much conviction. But anyone who has ever recorded ("stolen") a TV show on a VCR without truly repenting of it has no ethical high ground for opposing using Napster. It's ethically the same difference. In fact, a TV show costs 10 times or "tens" of times more to produce than any single song. Yet the film producers have lost the moral fight to prevent VCR use for making personal copies of TV and movie productions; Congress has ruled that personal, noncommercial, "time shifting" of movies and TV shows is legal, so the high-sounding arguments of the movie production companies (some of which, like AOL Time-Warner are the very same companies suing Napster) were not upheld either in public opinion or the highest court of the land.

Interestingly, there's no evidence that copying movies for personal time shifting has had a negative impact on theatrical movie going, much less the bottom line on the overall income a movie can make. In the long run, using Napster to get songs that were favorites a few years back will be proven to have no more effect...if the courts don't kill the application before the point can be finally made.

Gotta run...have to buy me a new CD player.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Say what again?

Do not needlessly endanger your lives until I give you the signal. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sent byAndrew Tieu

Judging others

Abba Xanthios said, "A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge."

Sent by John Stamps
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