That Thing - Napster
A look at the controversial website that allows internet users to download
copyrighted music for free.
(Lots of merged conversations sound)
Narrator : Something dangerous lurks inside a PC near you,it's called
(Sounds of music and modem)
News report : ....the internet frantically swapping music files bypasses
the CD altogether.
Speaker : This is a revolution in that obviously,what it does is it
gives you access to all the music ever created whenever you want it.
Narrator : It's a about to change the music industry forever.
News report : ..the Napster program.The CD's days are numbered.
Speaker : It's bigger than CD,'cos all CD was basically is taking
a piece of vinyl that big,and reducing it to something else that big,and
then making you buy your whole record collection again,I mean it was a
pretty bad rip-off in a way.
News report : The CD is dead,dead,dead......
Narrator : Apocalyptic stuff,but what is all the fuss really about?
Voices : What is that thing?
Narrator : Napster is just a simple computer program you download
of the internet,it connects web servers across the world allowing everyone
to share music,to join in just type up your favourite track,and it's yours
to download.From chart material...
(Britney Spears "I did it again" plays)
...to obscure bedroom mixes.
(Britney clones play)
"I think I've farted again"
"I'm prince eddie,yes I'm the real steady"
"Ooh I'm pregnant again"
It's the biggest record shop in the world.
"Ooh I sang this before...."
And...it's all free.
Voices : That thing.
Speaker : The record industry has worked in the same way for so long
and now people really are sitting up and going "Oh God things are changing",so
I think it is a bit of a revolution and as a DJ it's great to be able to
go and hear a you know,a new tune that somebody's talked about and just locate
it.There's even a radio station in Australia that I know,that programmed
half of their radio station by downloading stuff off Napster 'cos they couldn't
get the records.
Voices : The thing is.
Narrator : The thing is it's illegal to copy music,and it's through
copyright violation that the record industry are trying to close Napster.
Speaker : All the record company's are interested in is how they make
their money from the artists that they invest in,and Napster enables fans
to swap their favourite pieces of music absolutely free.
Voices : Where did that thing come from?
Narrator : It was invented by a teenage computer genius.
Sean Fanning : I started it,you know just because I thought it was
exciting,it was just sort of a small project.It doesn't seem like a job
to me.It's just fun stuff.
Narrator : Sean Fanning created Napster in January last year to share
his own musical attempts with friends.Now Napster has 20 million users world
[That's the free market for you.If the music industry don't like it hard
luck. Napster is just filling demand,and if a company sees another company
as a threat you can't stop that company when competition is to hard to
beat.Similarly just because the road hauliers and farmers don't like high
taxes doesn't mean they can take the law into their own hands and cut of
fuel from everyone else (see Joe Burns - point
5).If we were to adopt the record industry's stance E=MC^2 would not have
been allowed outside of Einstein's mind in case it caused damage. This is
Brian Appleyard's nonsense,and 1984 thought police.Things WILL change and
progress WILL happen,bucking the trend is naive.The record industry should
accept MP3 and Napster,but as it says later,they just can't figure how to
profit from it. So what? Music is an art not a profit making concern it should
be free.Intellectual freedom is more important than money -LB]
Speaker : I think it's hilarious that a 17 year-old guy in his university
campus bedroom,can change the way we think about music,and the result of
that is that we're saying we want music cheap and we want it easy.
[And in a democratic society where majority rules,why should the record industry
like the hauliers be able to undemocratically veto what people want? -LB]
Speaker : Napster is brilliant for music fans,it's brilliant for
music,it's just crap for the record industry,because they can't work out
how to make any money out of it.
Voices : That thing. "And when the music starts...."
Narrator : The record industry's war with Napster is supported
by many major stars. They nearly shut it down in July, but the case went
to appeal,the warring parties meet up for a final legal showdown next month.
Net pundit : I think the reason for the record industry to be scared
is less than "this free music", because they've always been able to compete
on that somehow.I mean they could have set up their own Napster 2 years ago,I
think they're scared of losing control, there's no mandate saying that
the recording industry has to control music.
Narrator : The record business is a 38 billion pound industry basically
unchanged for 50 years. You hear a record,go to the store and buy.Without
this simple process,the industry says there'll be no new artists.
[That's total rubbish.People who are good, are getting a hearing,when the
record industry overlooked them, as they weren't saleable .The plastic packaging
and sausage machine boy bands and air-head female singers are being by-passed
and so-called "popular" music which is what the record industry dictates,in
terms of good looking stars with large video promos,are being ousted in favour
of raw talent that gains credibility by virtue of actual musical ability.
New artists that don't conform to the mould appear by virtue of getting a
hearing by word of mouth internet credibility.What's happened is that the
record industry is losing it's stranglehold on dictating popular taste -LB]
Industry pundit : If artists and music companies can't earn money
from the sale of music,then we won't be able to invest in music in the
future.That's a fact of life.Most artists are into music because it's how
they want to make their living,and our responsibility's to help them protect
[Individuals invest in their own music.The price of equipment is such that
anyone can theoretically afford everything necessary to make a high standard
recording,because the technology is affordable and high quality. If there
is demand for that artists,people will STILL be willing to pay,for live shows
and merchandise and possibly even officially produced recordings on some
medium. What it means is that performers are possibly unlikely to be
millionaires,unless they work a large percentage of live gigs and
merchandising.There is no mandate that musicians have to become millionaires
either.It also means that small overlooked talent gets put on a level playing
field with industry backed performers,since everyone is in the same boat
- ie equality.It's unfair that bubble heads lie Britney Spears should be
backed as a saleable package when their are better musicians (my value judgment)
that are probably unable to to become known,because they don't conform to
the record industry ideas of "talented".Those choosing "talent" invariably
wouldn't know it if they fell over it,and so the public gets sold what the
industry thinks is "good". Let the people decide what's good,that's what
happens in a democracy.The record industry pre filters what acts are up for
grabs,who voted for them? -LB]
Narrator : Heavy metal band Metallica are protecting themselves against
[What Metallica are doing,is shooting themselves in the foot. By ostrich
like sticking their head in the sand rather than surfing the tidal wave,you
not only stand to be knocked over by progress,you also go against common
consensus. Not that I ever bought Metallica,I now definitively WILL never
by Metallica purely because they are anti-progress,and anti-Napster. Progressive
bands can see that the only way forward is to go with the flow.You can't
stop progress.Those bands that HAVE taken advantage of Napster are becoming
famous on the strength of supporting it -LB]
Lars Ulrich : If you have the right to download my music for free....
Narrator : Drummer Lars Ulrich is leading the fight.
Lars Ulrich : ...then let's say that you're a plumber,or you're a
car mechanic or whatever,the I have the right to call you up at any time
and demand that you come over and demand that you fix my plumbing for free.
[I'm sure Lars's plumbing needs fixing.Music is not a commodity or a service
it's an art. Once Anthony Gormley's "Angel of the North" went up everyone
who drives past it on the motorway views it for free,which is not to say
Gormley wasn't commissioned to build it. But Lars's view is a narrow and
demeaning view of music as a packaged commodity that one sells like so many
hot cakes -LB]
Voices : It's a metal thing?
Lars Ulrich : It must be a slow news day.
Narrator : Drummer Ulrich took Napster to court in May,and won a small
battle to ban users who downloaded Metallica.
[So Lars has achieved the fantastic victory of stopping people around the
world from hearing HIS music,whilst everyone else's music IS heard.Nice going
Lars,now no one will get to hear your new record! I'm sure that's exactly
what you wanted! -LB]
Lars Ulrich : Real people downloading Metallica master songs. You
know is it only artists and creative people that are...should be,sort of
looked upon to provide their services for free? Where does it end?
Speaker : There was a suggestion from Lars Ulrich of Metallica,that
if he needed to,he would come round with a bunch of goons,and take your computer
away for doing it.
[Ahh so Lars is willing to break democratic law and my rights like the road
hauliers in order to protect HIS interests.That's a selfish minority concern
in a democratic country. Moreover his solution is the jack booted solution
of fascism.Stamp out what you don't like -LB]
Lars Ulrich : If we have to start knocking on doors,and have to go
in and confiscating hard drives in people's homes....
[If Lars does this he could be accused of stealing personal information contained
on that drive which is against the law,as it is when a virus type programme
steals personal information off the hard drive over the net.It's interesting
that he's prepared to break the law to stop others "breaking the law".Two
wrongs don't make a right,and there's some doubt as to whether a "wrong"
has take place,since I have the freedom to download whatever I like over
the net,this is a priority freedom of the individual in a free society. MP3
trading could still go on without Napster it would just be less efficient,killing
Napster would do little to solve Lars's problem.He just doesn't get what's
happened and is digging his heels in. People are already changing file suffixes
to end in something other than .MP3 so tracking programs can't find them.In
order to track them down you'd have to search every file on every computer
- an impossible task -LB]
Speaker : I'd like to see him try,they're a metal band,and he's a
drummer.A drummer? They've made millions out of their fans (see
Joe Burns -point 4).
Lars Ulrich : You know,look around I've got more money than I know
what to do with,so it's not really about us at the end of the day,what it
is about it's taking a stance,and I think who it mostly affects are really
the people in the smaller bands who sell a couple of thousand copies of their
records.They depend on the royalties,they depend on their publishing income.
[Some of those bands are smart enough to make .MP3's and put them on Napster!
Narrator : But for some bands, Napster is proving a very effective
Speaker : There is an argument that these sites can be a breeding
ground for new talent.I mean probably the most famous case of an internet
signing is the Darude record.
I think the guy was in Finland and sent it to a guy over hear on the
internet,online,and he signed it,a few thousand quid,and it's gone on to
sell a couple of hundred thousand records.
"My name is prince..."
Narrator : Many established bands including big names are pro Napster,even
though they could end up losing money because of it.
[The list includes David Bowie who along with Peter Gabriel have been quick
to exploit the new technologies and are sailing along on an ocean wave.Bowie
has always been an indicator of the way things are going,and if he's in on
it,you can bet that's the way things are going.Lars will be a has-been in
a short while.Aimee Mann and Limp Bizkit also support Napster amongst others
The fate of Napster and the music industry will be decided by the October
[The record industry attitude is like the oil companies towards new efficient
technologies that take the power away from fossil fuel.They will stymie research
until it's absolutely necessary to use something other than oil.Ie "The Betsy"
and "First Monday in September",the latter where the perpetual motion machine
is kept in an X-files storage room,because the oil magnates would no longer
profit.Theoretically we'd all love transport that ran without fuel and not
have to pay for petrol,even the road hauliers! This is cutting your nose
off to spite your face! The wise person,sees that oil WILL run out and invests
in new source of power. Similarly the record industry should invest in Napster
and MP3.What they are doing is holding onto Betamax,when VCR is being taken
up.If they do that they will go the way of the dinosaur."Adapt to survive"
Voices : That's that then.
Narrator : In the meantime,the record companies continue to pursue
Net fascist :There are 14,000 downloads a minute on Napster.We're
just going to have a look at the people who are on the Napster network at
Narrator : And there's no hiding.
[In this Big Brother situation,one might see that making a virus that attacked
the anti-Napster snooper's programs would not be terrorism but a strike for
freedom by revolutionaries.Do you think people have the right to come into
your home or break down your door and take your property information? That's
called "theft". When it happened to Gary Glitter,it was because he was in
violation of moral codes protected by law (which is a different argument
as to what is moral or not).But Lars is not the police, and if copyright
law is being invoked ,the there is an issue of private citizen's rights to
have "free power" without the oil companies or road hauliers holding the
public to ransom or Lars removing people's rights to pass files over the
net versus his rights as an artist. Lars is not right by default -LB]
Net fascist : I'm going to do a specific search for,a track I know
has been very popular recently,"7 days" hopefully this'll then give us
information about the people who've got it,and track them down,and take the
necessary enforcement action.So we've now got our search done,and we've got
an IP address for somebody with this Craig David track.Now this is somebody
at the university of Manchester.
[Note that this guy is searching someone's hard drive without their
permission,and he is on the "legal" side of the law. Do you think the
establishment has the right to search your private belongings without getting
a search warrant? Or obtaining your permission. These snoops are fascists
and must be stopped.Fascist establishment toadies like him are those that
stymie progress -LB]
Speaker : This technology's been created and it's got a strong user
base then they've got to learn to adapt,to live with it.This is just forcing
the issue a little bit faster that's all.
[I suspect Richard Branson WILL adapt and we'll have Virgin Napster -LB]
Speaker : It's like trying to stop porn websites,you know a lot of
the porn websites are illegal,but there's no way you could ever even think
about stopping it.It's no different with music.
[In fact some musicians are exploiting the net to interact online and pass
files to each other and create tracks as "virtual performers",the track is
not any particular artist,but a loose association of performers passing ideas
to each other,this harks back to ideas from the 60s - LB]
Speaker : At the moment I think this whole scenario's very silly...people
are quoting home taping when that first came in and people said "People with
cassettes at home is going to wipe the music industry out",and then mini
disk came along and they said the same,and it hasn't really.
[It's just fear of the unknown like luddites when looms came along. (see
Joe Burns -point 6)- LB]
Speaker : Home taping had a much more limited audience,you would have
gone to the record shop on a Saturday,or whatever,bought your album and made
a copy for yourself.If you were so inclined you might have made a copy for
someone else,as well.With the internet,you've got an audience of hundreds
of millions of people.You only need to make that copy once,and everybody
can have access to it.
[If we're to go by this,then profits should have halved as duplicates flooded
the market.that DIDN'T happen.Sheer scale is not a valid argument.Neither
is higher quality reproduction.If the potential audience is so big,one wonders
why Lars doesn't wish to broadcast to them -LB]
Voices : Will things ever be the same?
["The more things change the more they stay the same" -RUSH]
Net pundit : If you have a new medium that is being enthusiastically
being embraced by your next generation of consumers,it is not really smart
to call them criminals and declare war on this new medium that they
are adopting with such enthusiasm.It merely alienates your next generation
[In short David Bowie is smart,and Lars Ulrich is an idiot,but then we already
new that.Lars has definitively alienated me.Progressive minds will always
be ahead of the pack -LB]
Speaker : I don't really understand what the record company's
did to upset everybody. Is there something wrong with us,I mean are we
missing the point here.Of look the record company's are making so
much money,they're just big fat cats.You know it's a business at the
end of the day.
[Yes on both counts.The record industry dictates popular taste in music,which
is undemocratic,and misses the point that change is inevitable and one should
exploit it not try to stop it.The record company's exploit the artist and
the fans.They make endless cover versions and rehashes,rather than supporting
new and progressive acts,and take and unwarranted cut of their pond of flesh
out of the artists.The money middle men are unnecessary. Scientists online
at www.edge.org are already bypassing
the usual communication channels and speaking directly to the public. Artists
are lagging the technologists and dragging their romantic heels as usual
as it said on Material World (Doc30)about the CP
Snow's two cultures today's novelists and artists
are slowly accommodating technology and those that do-profit,those that don't
are antiquated dinosaurs.What we're seeing is the "useless third" being
ejected.The people who make their living off the backs of everyone else are
finding that their parasitic ways don't work online.Smart artists and musicians
are setting up their own websites and files and contacting their own fans
without corporate big wigs parasitically preying on them."Sampling" technology
should have killed music,it didn't it just provided a new tool -LB]
Speaker : The fact that people think that making music is a business
and money should be made out of it,is actually when you think of the history
of the world,a very small time,and before that since time in memorial,people
have been making music, as a hobby, as part of community.It's conceivable
that the way the internet works,that will break that down again.Maybe music
as a career will not be as important,and maybe people will go out and be
butchers bakers and candle stick makers during the day,and then come home
in the evening and mess about and make their own music and share it with
[It's only in Western society that music is a commodity.Tribal peoples play
music to bond relate and communicate and celebrate. The streets of Rio and
the Notting Hill carnival and many other outdoor activities are filled with
free music.Churches sing to celebrate God, no one pays for it. Music has
been chained into bondage in Western culture and made a slave to money
maker.THAT'S what they have done wrong.Music is SUPPOSED to be free,as much
as I have a right to free speech or free thought -LB]
(Britney clones play)
" I think I've farted again.."
"Ooh I'm pregnant again.."
"Make my boobies one more time..."
[The last clone indicates what the public think of artists such as Britney
spears,they see manufactured artists made to fill a niche that only exists
in the mind of big business,and the artists is a plastic doll and artificial,like
eating a protein pill instead of a hearty meal. It's just like Rush's
The notion of "selling one's soul or art for fame" means that such artists
are seen to have "sold out" to the corporate machinery,as much as say lefty
comic Ben Elton was seen to have become toned down and less radical by becoming
part of the BBC.Radical and progressive music is uncontrolled by corporate
mentality,which ultimately owes its allegiance to the classical ideas of
upper middle class people with no street level comprehension.This is how
politicians come not to know people who are in the public eye,and revered
by the public.They are seen as "out of touch" with common or popular
culture.These same people decide what is "tasteful" or "saleable" for everyone
else like fascist Mary Whitehouses censoring music to be only the pap which
they deem to be of any good. Well WHO elected them arbiters of MY taste?
When MIDI and sampling came in and even before in some cases progressives
like Brian Eno (who is also on www.edge.org I think - the Third culture)
Bill Bruford,Jan Hammer,Neil Peart all embraced the technology and profited
from doing so. "All this machinery making modern music can still be open
hearted" -Peart.The perception is that corporate music is soulless heartless
pap and twaddle that middle class business directors play at their little
girls party to dance to. Real music fans want real music,from real musicians.Lars
Ulrich is cutting his own throat. Music is the victim of the record industry
not of Napster,"don't swallow the poison-spit it out". Support Napster
- Support progress,as Pink Floyd said "Tear down the Wall" - I wonder if
they're pro Napster? -LB]
Note that this track comes from the vinyl album that was paid for,and I have
on occasion copied tracks for other people - the artist remains popular,sells
out concerts and sells CDs and merchandise by the bucket load,not least because
I try and get hold of them myself-LB
Packaged like a rebel or a hero
Target mass appeal
To make an audience feel
He really means it
Package the illusion of persona
Careful to conceal
The fact that she's only too real
She's got to screen it
Hit you in a soft place
A melody so sweet
A strong and simple beat
That you can dance to
Watch his every move
Watch his every move
Hoping you'll believe
Designing to deceive
He can put a target on the market
Bask in your applause
Now he believes it
The role becomes the actor
She's addicted to applause
The stage a world because
She never leaves it
Hit you in a soft place
With sentimental ease
They know your fantasies
That you romance to
Watch her every move
She can manipulate reactions
Watch her every move
Pin the donkey on the tail
Fantasy for sale