Friday, April 17, 2009

From one pirate to another

So Pirate Bay was found guilty.

I just don't know what to think about this whole issue. I recognize how utterly behind the times I am...I still watch my movies on a television, for instance, and despite what purports to be a high-speed connection, I can't even imagine how long it would take to download one. Music--I used to LimeWire some tracks, but I never plan to use that piece of software again, and wish I knew some way to eradicate it: there's entirely too much free stuff that comes liming down the wire with your free stuff. (Google "remove Limewire" and despair: it's by no means an easy process, and it looks to take about an afternoon to complete. Any software that can't be easily and quickly removed shouldn't be installed in the first place...Ken's Computer Rule #3. Ken wishes he'd derived this rule two years sooner.)

And as for torrents--I have a friend who has shown me three times how they you can get virtually any album ever recorded, totally free of charge. I have to admit I didn't pay much attention. Because, well...

You have to understand what kind of person is writing this blog. I have an unconscious voice that never, ever shuts up, and what it mostly says from dawn to dusk every single day is three whole words, over and over: respect the rules. My parents would doubtless like to take credit for this voice, but I don't think they can. I've had a deep and abiding love of order and stability since the wombquake at the three month mark. If you get enough people breaking the rules, that's anarchy, and the mere thought of anarchy terrifies me. Respect The Rules. I'd crochet a damn sampler, if I knew how.

So my first impulse is to come down hard on the thieves freedom fighters downloading movies and songs to their heart's content. I have a particular disdain for their most-cited rationale, which is hey, 99% of music/movies/whatever I just downloaded is crap. Who wants to pay for crap? I don't.
Neither do I, buddy. But here's the difference between me and you: I won't accept crap even if it's free. Why would I? It's crap.
The one percent, though...the good stuff...well, sure, I'll pay for it. It's that damned empathy at work again, that weird and silly sense I have that says but if I was the author/composer/craftsman, I'd kind of like to, I dunno, eat. So that I could, like, you know, continue to write/compose/craft? All these millions of people out there, assigning my life's work a value of precisely zero. Fuck 'em.
So then we get into the argument, also beloved by the thieves downloaders, that the record labels/studios/publishers make too much money from the legitimate sale of creative goods. Which may or may not be true. Probably is, in fact. However, pirating said creative goods in an effort to deprive the middleman of money will also impoverish the creator--who signed a contract, presumably without a gun to her head. 
Some artists have cut out the middlemen themselves, with varying levels of success. That's their choice, to do so or not, and it should be respected, says I. Respect The Rules.


The pirates have two things going for them. One is that for every site that gets shut down, at least one springs to take its place. That's because, two, my attitude is that of an old fuddy-duddy, and it's increasingly rare. The overwhelmingly prevalent Internet attitude is summed up thusly: give me my information, give it to me now, and give it to me free. 

That attitude isn't going anywhere soon, and it sure can't be litigated out of existence. Meaning that, as with newspapers, the Big Three automakers, and seemingly just about everything else these days, we're going to have to make a new model. I just don't understand how this model can possibly work. It has to compensate artists for their work, while simultaneously making that work free for everyone. 

Anybody got any ideas? I'm plumb out.

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