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Thread: The Great MP3 ethics thread

  1. #1
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    Default The Great MP3 ethics thread

    ....so here it is...it was bound to come up, no?

    can we discuss the ins & outs of file-sharing in a reasonable manner?
    not so much a debate as a chat, like, because i know there are strongly-held views about, so i doubt we'll reach consensus or even agreement, but we should be able to share our views and challenge one another in a non-arsey way, please...

    nevertheless i'd like to hear folks opinions, i think the issue in the meeja is a different story to the one that i've seen on the blogs - while the press report events relating to copyright and big corporations , the blog debate is about creativity, censorship & conoisseurship - (if i got it right?) & the effects on the small labels and artists

    the latest, of course, is that UK filesharing punters are getting nabbed, and that they're going for the people who host the files rather than the downloaders,
    but that legalistic side of the issue is kinda dull, i'm more interested to hear about the moral and ethical quandaries....

    peace & love
    sufi xxx

  2. #2
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    Suppose you only buy used vinyl? You are not contributing to the artist at all. Why shouldn't it be possible for you to download mp3's so that you know what to buy?

  3. #3
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    They're going for the filesharers rather than downloaders simply because it's near impossible to catch the downloaders. You don't know if random person A already owns the song they are downloading, and just want a copy for their computer. Besides, i don't think they have the technology to spy on two people involved in a file transaction - so unless they actually host the illegal files in the first place, they can't catch someone downloading.

    When people are sharing files that have copyright, as soon as they figure out they can download those files it means that they are distributing those files illegally.

    I think they're going to have to entirely refocus their business model re: the internet and singles as opposed to albums; itunes has proven there's a market for songs, and that's the only real future. I can't imagine "The Album" has much of a future either.

  4. #4
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    MP3 is an inferior format for music

    having a folder (or a burnt cd) of an album on your hard drive is NOT having a music record
    it's like having a b+w 3" repro of the mona lisa instead of the real thing

    so my points are
    1) MP3s are for suckers that are not interested in the music
    2) the music industry have no right to sue those suckers because they are not dealing with the products that the music industry actually sell, records
    3) the music industry selling MP3s is the suckiest move of them all
    4) well, no, people buying MP3s from the music industry are the real helpless dummies

    I buy records, I favor vinyl

  5. #5
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    Articles often refer to the "MP3 generation" and people who have "grown up without physical music collections" or "moved on to digital music," but I wonder if serious music fans (such as the good members of this forum) really enjoy MP3s and would consider doing away with everything else. I certainly wouldn't, I still find CDs way more practical. In fact, I still find proper CDs more satisfying than CD-Rs, but then again I enjoy classifying everything in alphachronological order.

  6. #6
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    But you guys are discussing the ethics of it...

    In any case, if you go after the file-sharers then the downloaders will have nowhere to download from. The distinction between sharers and downloaders is non-existent. Once you download something it is there to be shared, that's the whole idea behind p2p. The files are spread and made more easily available.

    Vinyl vs. mp3: You can be a devotee of vinyl but it still helps to here something before you buy it. Even a b&w mona lisa gives a better idea of it than the most detailed description in some art book. Although...this makes me wonder.

    Sorry for going off-topic, but: Is a good review of a track more important to acquiring it than hearing an mp3 of it. For example you can hear some song and dismiss it and never listen to it again. However if you read a review which places it in a context and gives some info, and then you find out this is a seminal piece of miami bass, you will gain some appreciation for the track. So when you buy it afterwards you may devote many listens to it and discover stuff you haven't before or just appreciate it in a way you wouldn't otherwise. So how important is the context in relation to the content? (Maybe this needs a new thread)

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyMercier

    so my points are
    1) MP3s are for suckers that are not interested in the music
    2) the music industry have no right to sue those suckers because they are not dealing with the products that the music industry actually sell, records
    3) the music industry selling MP3s is the suckiest move of them all
    4) well, no, people buying MP3s from the music industry are the real helpless dummies
    Hey, I really don't like being referred to as a 'sucker' or a 'dummy', but I'll try and keep this reply polite.
    I bought vinyl throughout the '80s and early '90s, then moved to CD and ,from earlier this year, to MP3. It suits my lifestyle just fine. Frankly I was sick to death of the ever-increasing amount of space my music collection was taking up. It is partly due to my boundless love of and voracious appetite for music that has prompted the move to MP3. I'm a collector of music. I don't need to have a solid piece of wax with a nice sleeve design to enjoy it. For you to suggest that I'm not interested in music is a total insult.

    One other point that I've never seen mentioned before - the ecological benefits of MP3. Music can be enjoyed without using up more of the planet's precious recources. How many trees have to be felled to make the disco bags for your beloved vinyl releases, eh?

    As for the original filesharing issue...well, I'm one of the evil file-sharers who are killing music so I guess my opinion doesn't count.

  8. #8
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    Basically music fans have to reach a situation where the people who are part of the production of the original product that you download, or use to source mp3's are paid for thier work.
    the music industry is like anywhere else in that the people who produce the music should get paid for it.

    perhaps some kind of brechtian effort on the part of the music industry might do this, perhaps that'll just kill the magic, I dunno.

    there are lots of problems with the ethics of record labels same as any other industry, the big example in recent years being robbie williams getting paid 80 million (for a start think about how much of this money could have been invested elsewhere in better music etc) but i think the effort people put into making music, from the smallest labels upwards, people would like some reward for their music.
    But then again when the mobos award a soul singer an award for best ringtone you begin to think what the hell..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mms
    the music industry is like anywhere else in that the people who produce the music should get paid for it.
    except it's even more important that musicians get paid.

    if, say, you're producing cardboard boxes all day long, you expect to get paid for it. if you don't, you'll quit and do something else ... and someone else will come along and take over producing the exact same cardboard boxes.

    but with music, with all art, nobody can replicate what you were doing. if you walk away, your contribution is over; finished.

    don't get me wrong: i'm all in favour of downloading. but there have to be controls. at the moment, many filesharers seem to believe they've got a god-given right to listen to music free; as if it just *exists*, that no artists deserve to benefit from their creation. the irony is that it's not the big artists - the ones who can afford to lose a few record sales here and there - that'll suffer.

    that said ... why didn't hope taping kill music? hmm. can anyone answer that?

  10. #10
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    I'm entirely with Nick on this one. I've collected more records and CDs. than I know what to do with. I love having all of this music but it takes up a lot of bloody space and most of it goes unheard for months or years at a time. More and more I'm listening to mp3s instead. Of course the sound quality can be poor, but most of the time I either don't notice, or I figure that in some ways it's analagous (no pun) to my dad picking up distant AM stations on a transistor radio in the 50s. It's more about the excitement of finding exciting sounds than admiring their fidelity.

    For me, mp3s have meant finally hearing rave tunes that I'd been reading about since 1990 or so. Same with all the jungle tracks that never made it to my part of the world when they first came out. And now I'm able to hear the new musics coming out of London and Brazil that I would otherwise be reading about for several more years before getting the opportunity to really hear and sort through it myself.

    I think, quite often, a bit of unacknowledged privilege goes along with a great record collection. It means being in the right part of the world, at the right time or having enough cash to buy the fantasy that you were. Being a student and living in Canada, where the combination of shipping charges and exchange rates often makes buying mailorder music more expensive than I can justify, I'm quite happy sticking with mp3s. Not to mention that most of what I'm listening to is either out of print or never was available in any commodified form (live sets, DJ mixes, etc.). However, if I download music that is commercially avaialble, and if I like it enough to play it more than a couple of times I'll buy it. Otherwise, I don't see how it's any different from hearing it on the radio.

    That said, I do appreciate the process of searching out records for the love of the music itself. Still, it seems that many people are more motivated by the prospect of owning The Thing - IE: what the piece of plastic represents rather than what the sounds mean to them personally.

    Finally, I think Nick's point about ecological considerations is bang on.

    All of this rationalising aside, however, I'm also partial to the Spectacle-coming-home-to-roost aspects of the larger mp3 phenomenon. The mainstream industry really has made its own bed over the last couple of decades. Overall, the indies seem to have a better take on the whole thing.

    *whew*
    Last edited by nomos; 17-10-2004 at 06:23 AM.

  11. #11
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    Autonomic pretty much 100% OTM.

    The distinction between sharers and downloaders is non-existent.

    I disagree with this (I forget who said it); the difference between downloaders and filesharers is that you can't catch downloaders.

  12. #12
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    I don't buy this eco-friendly thing at all: Given the media used to transfer and store MP3s, I doubt they have much less of an impact on the environment than CDs or vinyl,even if you can pack more of them on your hard drive. Also, if you are collecting MP3s, do you not have them backed up somewhere, leading to more eco-damage? If my music collection disappeared because my hard drive failed I'd be less than happy. At least if your vinyl and CDs get stolen you can claim on your insurance.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=grimly fiendish]except it's even more important that musicians get paid.

    yes i didn't mean the producers of the recording but the musicians who write it and everyone involved in the process of making the finished product.

    quote: g fiendish
    that said ... why didn't home taping kill music? hmm. can anyone answer that?
    I don't think hometaping is as widespread as mp3's, plus the quality wasn't as good as alot of mp3 downloads plus there aren't whole sites on the net completely dedicated to easy access to free music often before it has been released, some people nowdays don't buy music because it is avaliable over their modem.

    I was near Southern India last year and the kids there were downloading eminem, the worlds a smaller place but also much bigger for those people that want to seek things out. via the internet you can pretty much now hear music from all the continents, also things you'd never get to normally hear (or sometimes afford) also you can hear music from thousands of home producers etc, (not that the music is often great).
    That's opened up a world of music to me, and it's music i'll follow up and try and support by purchasing it if I can.
    Last edited by mms; 17-10-2004 at 08:54 PM.

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    also according to private eye..

    2.5 M CDs sold in the UK last week

    10 M Cds given away with weekend newspapers last week


    yet another mountain...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gutterbreakz
    collector of music.
    I'm not a collector of anything, I buy records cause I like them and they are how music is supposed to be received according to the guys that do them. I'm not into "lifestyles" either, I'm not into MP3s and consumer electronics, ...
    etc!

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