August 21, 2002


Today we unite in celebration of the fact that my first two blogs have rolled off the "5-blog" limit in the editor. This means that we have really taken off.

The ANN project report, I was talking about yesterday, is complete. See, I am being precise here. The project report is complete. Sadly not the project. Atleast not the part that we had promised mid-way through the evaluation. But it is done and now there are a lot more things on the mind that it is not possible to waste further thought on it.

I wanted to talk about an article I had read over at, led by slashdot. But I will not. However I want to talk about something that I have been thinking about for sometime now. It is basically because i eyed this article. Basically the article talks about a great number of developments on the CopyRight front. If you are any person who keeps in touch with the happennings on the net, you would have surely heard of the peer-to-peer programs. These programs, (remember the estwhile napster and the latest kazaa, bearshare, limewire and the host of other Gnutella clients?) allow people to share music, programs and other software. The MPAA and the RIAA have been up in arms, entreating the law-makers to do something to protect the "poor artists" from being ripped off their hard earned money.

This discussion will not focus on what the MPAA and the RIAA themselves are a sad representation of. Nor will we talk about the nature of the money in this business, or who actually makes the money, how profits have been increasing regularly, or how most of their claims are hypocritical in their own right.

Instead lets look if the entire concept of CopyRight actually makes sense, in this new world. CopyRights came into being in order to protect the interests of the people, who put in substantial investments to come up with something new. The idea was that the investment that the entity put in, so as to produce the new product/service, has a chance at being redeemed. Hence giving a initial start to the entity, as a monopoly offering the particular service, would allow it to do the same. The two aspects of the idea were that a) there was a quasi-monopoly created and b) the corresponding entity would have time to recover the costs it put in.

What is the difference today? Well, both concepts of monopoly, time and costs are being revised and rewritten. Digitization has ensured that the costs of production and reproduction, have hit the floor. It is possible to create copies of the same original quickly and painlessly. Similarly, it is possible to create new originals, with much greater ease, thanks to digitization. Hence what was seen as a major cost is no longer so great a quantity. The concept of time itself has also been changed. With industries rising in a matter of years, allowing monopolies itself is archaic.

Lets look at this from the point of view of a recording studio. In the past, a recording studio was a big deal. Yeah it is so today too. But computers have made it possible for a small desktop to do a great part of what required incredible hunks of sophisticated machinery. Those were the days when cassettes and CDs had to be mass produced. Thus making a song was not just and idea and a guitar. It involved a lot more people, capital and time. Thus it was reasonable to assume that there was a need to somehow protect the poor guy strumming the guitar, till he and his music studio made some money.

Now things are different. No longer is your setup cost the same. Nor is the cost of distribution so high. You do not always required CD stamping machines or cassettes production units. Also it does not really take years for a song to be really well known all around the world. What then is the CopyRight act protecting here? How exactly is originality defined? Is it just the ability to compile a song? What does a mammoth organization like the RIAA need that they are preventing easy access of songs for the fans? What is the justification for maintaining the MPAAs and the RIAAs of this world, when music no longer is what it used to be? Instead of trying to use the "second wave" tactics to prevent change, should the change itself not be studied? Instead of trying to change the rules of the game, should we not seek to change the game itself?

I think it is time, we stopped using the dated tools and structures of the older era to control the change of the new era. Music is not what is was. It is time we accepted the change and then advocated checks, not vice versa.

Look ahead and you are a dreamer,
look back and you are a laggard,
but if thou thinks you can get away,
by not looking, beware you are a hazard

I know it is sad. About what I could come up at this time of the morning. Methinks me needs to sleep.

Oh, and Jack says hi


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