Live Free or Die: Maybe Napster Should Call it Quits

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

I should preface these thoughts by saying that I believe the current uproar over Napster, copyright issues, the music industry, and information theory is producing a public debate that is very healthy for our government, culture, and nation. It is forcing us to look in new ways at how we treat information, data, privacy, personal transactions, art, and money on a personal and public level. It is forcing several large and powerful corporate and government entities to think hard about their place in the digital age.

007 4AThat being said, I think it might be best if the debate ended with the voluntary end of Napster, instead of the involuntary end of Napster "as we know it."

Outrageous, you say? They should fight to the death, you say? Well, let's think about it. When this whole conflict started, the Napster folks took the hard and fast position that they were providing a legitimate service that was not in any way defrauding the music industry. I'm not sure how their personal/internal corporate view has changed since then, but the current course of events would suggest that Napster is making every attempt to find the best way to handicap their service in a way that satisfies the music industry. This is the result of the seemingly immutable decision of the justice system that Napster's original operating model is illegal.

If you follow that course to its natural conclusion, it means that the current conflict will not end until either Napster operates in a manner that is pleasing to the music industry and/or the government, or Napster does not operate at all.

As a matter of pride and principle, I think Napster should head off either ending and call it a day. By continuing to participate in the current conflict, Napster publicly acknowledges, however reluctantly, that it is in the wrong and that the music industry and government are somehow in the right -- OR, it acknowledges that its more important to Napster's keepers to exist as a prisoner of these entities than it is to assert the right to exist freely or not exist at all.

However, if Napster were to close its proverbial doors, it would be its own unique way of admirably saying "we choose not to exist in a manner that is subject to the corrupt whims of a malicious industry". Yes, it would be a loss for Napster users, and yes, it would be a loss for a practical, working example of the power of the Internet. But it would NOT be a loss for the cause of freedom of information; quite the opposite.

Some things change our lives so significantly that they deserve better than to be trampled out of existence by the changing face of subtle bureaucratic oppression.

What do you think?

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