Some Kind of Monster

Week 9 – New Media Law, Policy and Gonvernance

After reading Kieran Tranter’s Stories of Human Anatomy, Law and Technology (2010), I have decided to further explore an intriguing story which involves the newly seen powers of social media, the laws broken and the ethics questioned. This saga has forever changed the way we consume music along with the way we share it and how artists control their own music, or not. It has brought one of the mightiest and successful musical acts in history of popular music to its knees.

In 2000, Metallica unleashed hell onto the internet file-sharing website Napster by suing them for copyright infringement, unlawfully allowing the band’s entire back catalogue available online for free download. The band drummer Lars Ulrich expressed how he feels it is “sickening to know that [their] art is being traded like a commodity” (2000).

The legal saga has raised big concerns on the financial future of the music industry as artists will struggle to make money. I have never really cared much for the financial concerns of musicians as their complaints come across as shallow and greedy to my taste, many still making millions despite the ongoing downloading frenzies (2009). My bigger concern is the ethical side of the issue. Do we have the right to be able to download our favourite musician’s work without giving them a cent?

The introduction of websites such as Napster has opened a new, revolutionary door to the way we listen, access and share music. Many will argue that music, like information, should be easily accessible for all to listen, regardless of how much money you have in your pocket.

This is an issue where I cannot pick clear sides. I love having the option of being able to download music so easily and quickly without worrying to pay but I also have this internal guilt for essentially stealing from my hero or heroine. I guess for a music fan it is my responsibility to keep the industry running and buy as much as I can but it doesn’t hurt to know that there is an alternative.

References

Amy Doan. 2000. “Metallica Sues Napster”. Accessed May 6, 2012. http://www.forbes.com/2000/04/14/mu4.html

Enigmax. 2009. “Metallica’s Lars Ulrich is Proud of Napster’s Destruction” Accessed May 6, 2012. http://torrentfreak.com/lars-ulrich-proud-of-destruction-of-napster-090718/

Tranter, Kieran (2010). Stories of Human Anatomy, Law, and Technology in Bulletin of Science Technology Society. 30(18), pp. 18-21

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3 thoughts on “Some Kind of Monster

  1. I agree with you that it is difficult to pick a side about the sharing of music issue! Too often I think why pay for something when I know I can get it for free (via Internet)? However there is also the ethical aspect, as you mentioned, and that bothers me sometimes because I feel guilty for stealing from my favourite singer.

  2. I’m,writing an essay regarding this topic for another subject, and it’s interesting because despite the guilt we feel when downloading music, the issue of how it affects artists is extremely complex. After a fair chunk of research it seems that illegal music downloading currently doesn’t affect cd or iTunes sales, and in fact encourages people to spend more money on tours and merchandise after illegally downloading a couple of songs. This could change as downloading becomes more widespread though… who knows?

  3. Pingback: [8] Internet Laws and Policies « meiphuong

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