Looking for something, are we?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Do You Want To Buy A Tower of CD's?

I was just watching "The Social Network" and particularly alluding to the title, the part where Justin Timberlake, who plays the role of Sean Parker of the notorious Napster fame says to Eduardo Saverin, "Eduardo, do you want to buy a tower of records?". I have to admit, to be the founder and creator of something like Napster has to be pretty awesome and to say that sentence to someone, even more so. But being cool and being right are not the same thing.

What Napster did was steal. Or rather, empower people to steal. Plain and simple. Whether an artist is rich or poor, metal or pop is not the question. They took what was not theirs and handed it to others. Some people would call it being Robin Hood. And in some ways, it was. But, in a civilized world, where we do have laws for some reason and a majority of them being for the welfare of people, this is unacceptable. There is another dimension to it. People supported Napster, not because it was something revolutionary in the way of doing things over the internet, but because they could get stuff for free. Again, plain and simple. Don't get me wrong. Napster is useful when you are a new band and want other people to listen to your music. But one song from a new band does not compare to entire discographies of established artists.

What I am going for here, is perspective. With the internet becoming such a leading driver in globalisation and the spread of information and knowledge, it also became a vehicle for IP theft. Not on its own, but as a tool. So while Napster, P2P Torrents and hosting sites like Megaupload do help people to store their data, a large part of their existence is down to simple stealing. Theft of I.P. Acts like S.O.P.A. and P.I.P.A., though hugely unnecessary and stupid, were a reaction to this theft and there will be more of them coming in the future. Much more focussed, much more lethal and much more effective.

I am not an enemy of the internet. Not even slightly. I grew up with the web and when it first became freely accessible. I love being online, living in cyberspace. Email was such an amazing thing when it first started and to me, it still is. Google has become synonymous with running a search. Facebook is the same as normal social life. The geographical distance, in a lot of cases and for many purposes, has lost its significance.  Picasa, Youtube, Wikipedia, I could go on about this, without even mentioning some of the more specific technical stuff that we use the Internet for.

Some housekeeping first, confessions if you might. I have illegally downloaded a ton of music and other stuff.  Sometimes because the music was genuinely hard to get, (try buying a Slayer CD in India and you will know what I mean.) , but other times it was just for free shit. Same with movies, documentaries and software. And I plenty sure that I am not the only one who has done this.

But when I see what this kind of behaviour on the part of the normal populace has done to the order of things, I am forced to re-think my actions.Let's talk about music, as that is something everybody understands. It's not Metallica's and the Adele's of this world who are affected by it. It is the Meshuggah's and the Obscura's and the Gojira's who wilt away. Up and coming artists cannot get anybody to buy their music and hence they end up giving their stuff away for free. All this, assuming they are very talented and have come up with good stuff. Touring does not make two ends meet. Not for everybody. And when someone like Sahil Makhija aka Demonstealer from the Indian band Demonic Resurrection is juggling 36 jobs to keep his musical career alive, if you still cannot see the truth, I think you need to blow your brains out with a hand gun and then examine them. Or just look in the mirror and call yourself a greedy pig.

Now, the flip side. Music and movies and software has become cheaper. Fleecing the customers has gone down. Digital media has become more accessible, legally. The old guard has ended and the new order of things has come in. You can sample stuff before buying it. You can interact with artists and creators if you want. All that is possible. If you want it to do it. Before thinking about how to get it for free, think about how to get it legally.

So to sum it up, I do not want a tower of records and CD's. Actually, I do, but well, most of us do not. But you do not need to. The world has changed for the better and you need to change your mindset. Support your local scene, support artists and the ilk, if you want to see more and better. I have started to do the same. Wish you all do too. Not out of fear of being caught and penalised, but because it is the right thing to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment