Thursday, November 18, 2004

Yet more rant! I'm in a mood, can you tell?

Whenever I see this while driving:



I think of this:



Why is messing with Calvin unacceptable to me when music mashups and filesharing aren't?

Simple.

Someone other than the creator is making money selling these and other Calvin rips (calvin peeing, calvin mooning, etc.) without significant alteration from the original source. Their weak idea that couldn't have stood as well as it has on it's own is coasting on the success and popularity of Calvin and Hobbes, even this long after the strip ended. The people doing the mashups are doing it for a reason other than money. They aren't charging and they are adding something to the creative commons. I view the Calvin rippers as parasites and the music mashers as artists.

So Bill Watterson never authorized these decals, yet people have been stealing Calvin's likeness and using it for years without his permission. And the fact that they have been around for years without anyone being able to stamp them out (and his syndicate is trying*) is another testament to the fact that the only way filesharing will be stamped out is to eliminate the ability or the desire to share files.

As long as someone wants to copy something and has the means to do so, there will be copying. And as long as that person is willing to share it with others and they are willing to accept it, there will be sharing.

Making it illegal won't make it stop. Prohibition anyone? Any pot smokers in the audience? Last I heard stealing cars and killing people was illegal, but that still happens too. All that making it illegal will accomplish is more people being shuffled through the overflowing judiciary system without having committed a crime that hurt any other individual in the nation.

It's not the average person who happens to download some songs from the internet (rather than purchasing a CD that they weren't going to anyway) that are hurting these litigious corporations' bottom lines. It's the people who are doing it en masse, packaging the resulting CDs they burn from the shared music, and then selling them as legitimate copies. You know. The actual pirates. The ones making their living from it.

Passing laws making filesharing illegal may stop a lot of the individual filesharers who don't want to be sued or go to jail for something so silly. They will then resume not buying the overpriced products they already weren't buying. But it won't stop the real pirates. Like they give a flip about the laws.

So if laws won't eliminate the desire to steal music, how about eliminating the ability? Install DRM in every product sold from this point on. Cripple computers so that they can't copy anything without hopping through 50 hoops and getting the approval of God and Jesus. Tag everything to trace back to an originator, so he can be sued into oblivion for letting his copy of Britney Spears' latest piece of plastic out of his sight for five minutes. Charge everyone in the world a flat, yearly music tax that is shared among the corporations. Fuck the end user seven ways from Sunday.

Beyond the obvious, the problem with this is the people who make their living pirating the product will work their collective asses off to ensure that any blocks that are placed in the path of their money flow will be circumvented. It's kinda their careers. And the really prolific ones aren't even in this country.

The average filesharer will just get more and more pissed about the new restrictions placed on their purchased property until they decide they've had enough and find a way to fight back, be it through protest, boycott or some other way of letting those in power know that they aren't pleased with things as they are.

What it comes down to is Pandora's Music Box has been opened and it's time to find a way to deal with the contents. Fighting it tooth and nail may eventually work, but at what cost?

One last thing I'm thinking about and then I'm done for today. We are told from early childhood that sharing is good. It's wrong to be selfish. Sharing with others makes them happy and it makes you happy. Sharing has Jesus' official seal of approval. Now it's wrong and illegal? According to corporations and their lawyers and pocket politicians? I don't think so. As long as sharing is done freely and without profit than it isn't wrong.

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*For more information about Calvin and Hobbes, consult your local Wikipedia: The Calvin & Hobbes Wikipedia entry

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