Thank you, o you of the three llamas.

The unfathomable occurred — I got more sleep while on call than I usually get when I’m home. Now I don’t know what to do with my day…

After yesterday’s pointer to the Web Standards Project’s open letter to Netscape comes today’s Suck piece. The former asks Netscape to withdraw the 4.X browser from the market; the latter declares the upcoming Mozilla to already be irrelevant and a waste of everyone’s time. My favorite line: “At the very least, the Mozilla Project has given the world a pretty good picture of what caffeine poisoning looks like.”

I forgot that Dennis Miller makes his debut on Monday Night Football tonight; I’ve got to make it home to watch. Unfortunately, tonight is the overwhelmingly boring Hall of Fame game; fortunately, it should provide a few opportunities for Miller to show his humor.

Lance weighs in with a pretty well-though-out and well-written piece about the whole Napster mess. I’m in his boat — I don’t use Napster because I feel that, just as I want other people to honor my copyrights, I will honor others’ copyrights.

Dave Winer keeps saying that he pays for the music he gets on Napster (here and here are the two examples I found, although here he estimates he’s said it 80 times). I wonder how he’s doing that. Oh, I think I get it, after reading today’s SN — all the music he grabs on Napster is music he’s bought at some point, on some media.

OK, in the wake of the Stinky Meat Project comes some British guy who decided to try to contract athlete’s foot (dubbed “StinkyFeet”). He wrapped his feet in bags for sixteen days, jogged, went to the beach, and ended up with feet for which even a 90-year-old diabetic wouldn’t trade. Gross.

In a pretty big breakthrough, NIH researchers have found the specific bit of the Ebola virus that causes massive hemorrhage. This could lead to either a vaccine or blocking antibodies, both of which would be welcome in Africa (the virus’s hunting ground) and worldwide.

There’s not much sadder than a postmortem before a company is dead. From the sounds of things, though, perhaps the company should be.


I think it’s great that some people only use Napster to download music they have already purchased.

It seems to be fair use to rip your own CDs and create MP3s of them, so downloading MP3s of songs you have on CD isn’t THAT much of a stretch.

However, I wonder if that fair use can be extended to music purchased on lower-quality media, casette and vinyl, for example. Perhaps if the bitrate is low enough? Perhaps it IS fair use already, I don’t know.

But, how does one that justifies Napster usage based on having paid for the music being downloaded justify blindly sharing that music with everyone else in the world without being able to guarantee that the people on the end of the pipe have also paid for the music? Does one’s ethics only work in one direction?


• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Jul 31, 2000, 3:43 PM

What if you never add any songs to the folder that’s accessible through Napster? All the songs would be songs that were already available. Also, since I went through my bandwidth-ectomy, I don’t want to share my pitiful pipe with downloaders, that’s just my own selfishness, so I don’t run Napster when I’m not using it. And finally, when they get a pay system in place, as long as it doesn’t have copy protection, I’m going to be the first in line to sign up, assuming it happens this century.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 31, 2000, 4:35 PM

What if you never add any songs to the folder that’s accessible through Napster? All the songs would be songs that were already available.

Presumably yes, those songs would already be available elsewhere.

But wouldn’t you still be unable to tell whether or not people who you shared the file with also had purchased the songs being transferred?

It’s a paradox. If noone shares music, there isn’t any music on Napster.

But if one does share music, they have to share it with everyone*, not just people they know share the same beliefs and them, and therefore know that only people who have bought those songs will download them.

* please correct me if I’m wrong here, I’m only assuming!

Which means, I guess, that Napster cannot survive, as is, in a world where people would stop sharing music because they couldn’t ensure that only “authorized” people could access them.

So, if someone that believes only paid-for music should be downloaded on Napster wants music available via Napster, they either have to accept the generosity of others who may in fact not be paying for music themselves, and not reciprocate the favour, or they have to suspend their beliefs in good faith of others.

Or, they have to accept that others don’t follow their standards, that people do pirate music, and feel good about themselves for sticking to their own standards.

Quite the ethical challenge, IMHO. :-)

And finally, when they get a pay system in place, as long as it doesn’t have copy protection, I’m going to be the first in line to sign up, assuming it happens this century.

Me too. I think it would be great. I imagined a system where the users of Napster could get compensated (by proxy of the artists themselves, via Napster) for sharing their hard drive space and bandwidth with others.

I mentioned it briefly in this message, and expanded on the idea at the end of this message.


PS: My original message linked to the wrong message for the “expanded idea”; that has been corrected.

• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Jul 31, 2000, 5:50 PM

Of course, services that work like Napster works now (services which do not compensate artists in any way) will always exist, I don’t think there’s any way to stop that.

I support an alternative Napster (it doesn’t have to be from Napster, Inc. of course) service that gives me the option to compensate the artists, and even the source of of the music (the p on the other side of the p2p equation), whether directly or byproxy of the service.

• Posted by: Jim Roepcke on Jul 31, 2000, 6:04 PM

I don’t think it’s an ethical challenge, I’m responsible for myself and only myself. I hope other people are honorable. I also believe strongly that the music industry should have seen this coming and been prepared for it. I saw it coming years ago, that’s why I wrote about music so much, and linked it to my website, as much as I dared to. I agree with Clay Shirky, it’s like driving 70 MPH. I must admit that I do that. So does everyone else on 280, the road I take to SF from my house. And it’s easy to be honorable. I have the disposable income to afford the habit, and most of the music I get is just old stuff I had forgotten about. Today I’m listening to a CD that I used to listen to when I wrote ThinkTank for the Apple II. I forgot how good it was, my memory of the music was so tired. Nahhh, when it actually comes on the speakers I get goosebumps. That’s the point I think a lot of people don’t get, there’s an emotional personal involvement in music that nothing else has. I don’t feel passionately about driving 70 MPH, I just do it because I want to get there sooner and there’s safety in numbers. And when I see a cop car I hit the brakes. (But not if he’s behind me.)

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Jul 31, 2000, 9:36 PM

I guess my problem is that I could apply pretty similar logic to having bought Frontier 1.0 way back when (which we at SI did), and now feeling like I’m entitled to all the new copies off of a file-sharing system without paying for them.

I’m making the assumption that the CD you’re listening to today is probably one you never bought on CD, but instead on an inferior medium (vinyl, 8-track, cassette); upgrading to the CD-quality music isn’t something that your original “license” to the music entitled you to do. Likewise, my original Frontier 1.0 license didn’t tell me I got v6.2.1 free.

Why should the music industry have to give into music sharing just because they could have predicted that it would exist? That’s like saying that the software industry should just give away its products because it was logical to anticipate people sharing their software (something that’s much, much more predictible than music sharing, in my opinion, since programs are inherently digital bits that don’t have to be “ripped” or encoded in order to swap them).


• Posted by: Jason Levine on Aug 1, 2000, 7:20 AM

The whole thing is so blurry. They never said we couldn’t make tapes of music we had purchased. And they never said if a new distribution medium came out I’d have to buy the same music again. Even so, I did. I’ve bought the same music over and over. Now I want to do it again.

• Posted by: Dave Winer on Aug 2, 2000, 1:30 PM

This is a cop-out. If you think that everything that we buy should come with big licenses, then I would hate to live in that world; every book, toy, candle, mug, hat, poster, and on and on would have to come with legal language. Ugh. (It’s notions like this that force coupon vendors to print “this has no cash value” on their coupons, lest someone demand the $5.00 cash that the would have saved with the rectangle of paper snipped out from their 25-cent newspaper.)

I’m reasonably certain that you have never walked into a bookstore and demanded, for free, the softcover version of a book that you own in hardcover; I also doubt that a bookseller ever explicitly explained that this is how it works. Instead, you used logic to figure that one out. I assume that you also have recognized that owning Jaws on videotape doesn’t entitle you to the DVD version of the movie without forking over the money for it, or that buying a print poster of the Mona Lisa doesn’t mean you can walk into the Louvre and take the real thing off the wall.

Likewise, just because I want Userland to come out with a licensing mechanism for Frontier that lets me pay by the user doesn’t mean that the lack of said mechanism allows me to just download it for free off of a theft network and then proclaim loudly that if that mechanism were to exist, then I would be glad to pay. Instead, I’ve got to pay the only way that the current arrangement lets me, or forgo using the product.

People seem to think that new laws are needed to deal with the complexities of the Internet and copyright. That’s a load of crap, for most things; the same laws cover the same ideas, that theft is bad, that you usually only own one license to one form of a creative work, and that if you disagree with these rules, then you always have the option of not listening to the friggin’ music, not using the software, not buying the book, or whatever.

• Posted by: Jason Levine on Aug 2, 2000, 5:22 PM
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