Court pulls plug on free music (The Glass House 13/7/05)

In a victory for the music industry, the US Supreme Court has ruled against online file-serving services Grokster and Morpheus for encouraging illegal downloading of songs. Regardless of whether or not the musicians themselves agree, the court considers that the online services encourage music piracy. But are file sharers really pirates? After all, the file is still available at the original location. And very few of them own parrots.

Pirates are said to be outraged by the court’s decision. Pirates Union spokesman One-eyed Bluebeard said “Aaaarr, I’ve never downloaded no land-lubbin’ music!”

Sea shanty downloads have been said to have gone through the poop-deck.

Grokster and Morpheus have been sentenced to walk the plank. Pretty tough sentence for a computer program but it should be interesting to watch.

There do seem to be some fundamental differences between file sharers and pirates. After all, they aren’t actually removing anything from anyone. Perhaps “photocopiers” is a more appropriate term.

Musicians are divided over the ruling. Artists like Wilco and Frenzal Rhomb have described the decision as short-sighted and draconian, while Madonna and Eminem have praised it for protecting their livelihood. Because Eminem would never steal music from, say, every rap artist that preceded him…

Madonna complained: “I make like 3 cents off every record sold! File-sharing means I lose my three 3 cents – and the record company loses its 29.97! It’s just not fair!”

Metallica have been one act that have been vehemently against file-sharing. Drummer Lars Ulrich said, “Hey dude, our manager said we might have lost like half a million dollars in royalties thanks to file sharing. And that might not sound like a lot of money, but it could mean a ninth garage for my twelfth mansion!”

Vanilla Ice is said to be appalled at the outcome. “If it weren’t for stealing music, I’d have no career!” he said. The fact that he has no career anyway may not have crossed his mind.

VCRs were deemed acceptable because it was just “delayed watching” rather than stealing. MP3 fans have insisted that they are just “multiple listening” – and, if it’s downloaded porn, just “multiple orgasming”.

But blaming the software writers for how the public uses their program is like blaming all murders on gun manufacturers, or all moondancing on Michael Jackson.

But blaming the software writers for how the public uses their program is like blaming the American Government for all the Iraqi civilians that have died in a US-led war for oil- hang on a second…

Banning file-sharing on the internet is like banning juvenile name-calling in parliament! There’d be nothing left!

Banning file-sharing on the internet is like banning dope smoking at universities, or banning child molestation in the church! There’d be nothing left!

KaZaA is said to be encouraged by the results, saying they disapprove of breaking copyright. “We only ever wanted our software to be used for sharing home-movies, baby-pictures, and snuff-films.”

KaZaA is used by 200 million file-swapping pirates, causing a massive boom in the eye-patch industry…

KaZaA is used by 200 million file-swapping pirates, causing huge losses in the music industry. However, there has been a marked upturn in the profits of peg-leg retailers and manufacturers of eight (OR: manufacturers of pieces of eight).

The court case is part of a growing trend of media conglomerates aggressively protecting their intellectual property. At the recent premiere of War of the Worlds, guests were asked to pass in their mobile phones to prevent them filming the screen. Even director Stephen Spielberg. Fair enough, he might have wanted to watch his film shrunk to the size of a matchbox and drowned out by audience noise.

Experts have denied that the ruling will make any difference. The pirates will still steal whatever they want, add a voice-over, and replay it on the Glass House.

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