My Fushigi Yuugi
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You know them and probably love them as well. Most everybody seems to. More than that, people feel like it's their god-given right to have access to any song ever made. I remember the days before Napster, and you had to search ftp-site after ftp-site. Before cable modems, so you had to upload for two hours on an ftp-site only to pray that you weren't disconnected before you downloaded what you wanted. Back then, few people cared, because the abuse wasn't so wide-spread. Also, you had to know something to get them. People who know things tend to know to hide it when they do something they shouldn't. .mp3 is not illegal. It's just the use that most people find for them that is.
So what is it all about? After all, what are files? They're just binary, right? That's what a megabye is, right? A 4 megabyte file is 4 * 2^10 * 2^10 * 8 bits, or 2^25 bits. So, then what's a bit? A 0 or a 1. A number. A file is a big number. So RIAA and other groups decided that there's certain numbers that other people can't use. On this fundamental of a level, I completely agree that mp3 files should be freely shared. Isn't it a rape to want to control the use of something so integral to nature as a number? But there is more.
Have you ever seen a bitwise mp3 composer? Any programs that ask you what number sequence you'd like to play? Maybe you could guess a really big number and you'll get Beethoven's 5th. But then you may just get Korn's Freak on a Leash, with Elivs's voice instead. Chances are though, if you're living in the real world that you won't get anything that's even playable. These numbers frankly take a lot of time, money and effort to find, and the people who find them deserve reconition, and support. Do they deserve to be rich? Probably not.
You all probably know that Metallica made some of the first steps in fighting Napster. I sincerely doubt that short of an act of complete stupidity, the members of metallica would never be homeless and starving. When it comes to supporting the artists, Metallica had support. When it comes to recognizing them, it was fans who were doing the downloading. The names of the artist is attached to the file. Everyone can easily tell who is responsible for the work of "art" that is a Metallica song. So, what's the fuss?
I personally feel that the music industry is a perversion. If I didn't believe so strongly in preserving work, I'd even say that music shouldn't be recorded. Being a musician should be a job. I don't believe for a second that groups like Limp Bizkit spend 40 hours a week and 49 weeks out of the year making music. For one, if they did, they'd probably sound decent, but that's another matter entirely. I have the impression, please correct me if I'm wrong, that the vast majority of good instrumentalists make their money by peroforming. I also have the impression that they are more talented but not paid nearly so well as the people who are idolized by pop culture.
How does all this relate to .mp3 file formats? It's a brief explanation on why I don't believe that the .mp3 file sharing isn't an ethical concern. It's just a legal concern. It used to be that laws were to protect us from people who somehow managed to lose sense of what's ethically acceptable. Now, though, laws are to keep the money where it is, so the rich get richer. I guess you can't blame them, can you? Everyone wants the best for themselves.