To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Copy, Copy, Copy

I've always been sceptical of intellectual property rights, largely because property rights only make sense when there's exclusivity. If you own your car, that means I can't. In contrast, if I copy your music CD onto my computer, you still have your CD. Copying something is by definition not stealing it. Downloading a song off the Internet onto my iPod is no more stealing than downloading a good cooking recipe into my Blackberry. Or repeating a joke I heard on Comedy Central. This is why I get upset when the record industry goes after young people. It is outright thuggish to threaten college students with lawsuits for downloading something freely available on the Internet. Thuggish. A case in point.
At first, Sarah Barg thought the e-mail was a scam. Some group called the Recording Industry Association of America was accusing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore of illegally downloading 381 songs using the school's computer network and a program called Ares. The letter said she might be sued but offered her the chance to settle out of court. Barg couldn't imagine anyone expected her to pay $3,000 — $7.87 per song — for some 1980s ballads and Spice Girls tunes she downloaded for laughs in her dorm room. Besides, the 20-year-old had friends who had downloaded thousands of songs without repercussion....But Barg's perspective changed quickly that Thursday in March, when she called student legal services and found out the e-mail was no joke and that she had a pricey decision to make.

Barg is one of 61 students at UNL and hundreds at more than 60 college campuses across the country who have received letters from the recording industry group, threatening a lawsuit if they don't settle out of court....Barg's parents paid the $3,000 settlement. Without their help, "I don't know what I would have done. I'm only 20 years old," she said.

The best way to fight this thuggery is by downloading lots of songs off the Internet. As many as you can. If RIAA had it's way, you would have to pay $25 to them every time you sang Happy Birthday. And just humming a song in the shower would cost you $5.

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