as i'm sure all and sundry know, napster has essentially lost what
they term their 'legal battle to stay alive'. this has triggered
a wave of coverage from the fact-oriented media, and a wave of rhetoric
from the opinion-oriented media.
let no one deny us our proper place among the latter.
historically, the anime community has been very friendly to mp3s,
far more so than the mainstream music community. in a time when
most mp3 sites cross-linked with warez sites, and many considered
the very codec illegal, the anipike openly included an 'mpeg audio'
section, with links to hundreds of pages featuring mp3s from popular
the reasons for this are obvious.
note that the anime community in the u.s. depends largely on fan-subtitled
(fansubbed) tapes. legally speaking, fansubbing is illegal duplication
of copyrighted work, even though to profit from it is socially unthinkable.
However, anime studios and distributors tend to ignore fansubbing,
accepting that it is not worthwhile to police, especially in light
of the larger potential audience it creates.
The situation is roughly similar with mp3s. japanese cds, as you
all in readerland probably know, are hard to find in the u.s. and
(on average) four times the cost of american cds. mp3s have made
japanese music available to a global audience, as u.s. music has
been for decades.
otaku culture is closely tied to, even dependent on, the internet.
peer-to-peer file sharing is something we've understood all our
lives, understood from irc and dyndns, from hotline. . . from rooms
filled with vcrs at conventions. fansubbers have already embraced
this medium, posting files at a million free sites and hundreds
of private hosts.
napster was never actually a community. at best, it brought members
of a community together. it allowed me to talk with people from
around the world, but almost universally, they were members of this
same anime community that i know, tied into the same network. napster
was not important, merely easy. if it goes, we will mourn and move
and what of for-pay, proprietary digital formats? in the end, it
depends on the format, the recipient, and the amount. as an otaku,
i would gladly pay royalties to the artist/studio, reluctantly pay
the distributor, and refuse to pay some shadowy consortium. i would
refuse to pay for packaging (since there is none) or promotion (since
none reaches me). it would have to be something i could listen to
under any operating system, on any modern architecture.
the community doesn't regard mp3s as piracy. we've used them since
the format was invented, and it hasn't hurt the (almost nonexistent)
japanese-import cd market at all. this is a nonissue. worry about
wherever you go, we are all connected.
I was in the pub last night, and a guy asked me for a light
for his cigarette. I suddenly realised that there was a demand
here and money to be made, and so I agreed to light his cigarette
for 10 pence, but I didn't actually give him a light, I sold
him a license to burn his cigarette. My fire-license restricted
him from giving the light to anybody else, after all, that
fire was my property. He was drunk, and dismissing me as a
loony, but accepted my fire (and by implication the licence
which governed its use) anyway. Of course in a matter of minutes
I noticed a friend of his asking him for a light and to my
outrage he gave his cigarette to his friend and pirated my
fire! I was furious, I started to make my way over to that
side of the bar but to my added horror his friend then started
to light other people's cigarettes left, right, and centre!
Before long that whole side of the bar was enjoying MY fire
without paying me anything. Enraged I went from person to
person grabbing their cigarettes from their hands, throwing
them to the ground, and stamping on them.
Strangely the door staff exhibited no respect for my property
rights as they threw me out the door.
is our opinion of the record industry clear?