Tom Mazanec

   The other day I heard that Napster's assets are being sold off.
The revolutionary site is bankrupt. Does this mean that the record
companies and artists are safe?
   I discussed this over a year ago, with one of my best friends,
Edward Langley (he was a programmer and systems analyst for a major
banking system. After September 11, 2001, he was hit with double shifts
and other emergencies at work. In early October, he was hit by
an aneurysm and heart attack. I sometimes wonder if he is an
unsung victim of 9-1-1). He said that even if the companies "get"
Napster, there are other sites, harder to shut down, like Gnutella.
The industry might win the battle, but it will lose the war.
They will end up having to offer songs, every song ever recorded,
ultimately, for a buck or less each. He mentioned a major market chain 
actually tried this several years before, but they were stopped
by the music "Mafia".
   At this time, I was not downloading music off the web. I am such
an honest person that once, when I paid for a shareware game, the author
e-mailed me that he would not cash the check but would frame it...
I was the only person who paid for the program! Since then, I have
saved Real Audio copies of several hundred of my favorite oldies,
especially from Traveler (now shut down).
   Are the record companies loosing money from me because of this?
In my particular case, I can answer that no. My income working at a
not-for-profit care home is not the highest, and I cannot afford to
buy a CD that has ten or twelve songs, only one or two of which I want.
I once bought a Chipmunk CD and half the songs were songs from the
show that I had so loved as a child...and half were parodies of
Beatles tunes. That was my first (and probably last) music CD.
Many or most of those RA songs I had already bought as 45s or on LPs.
The remainder is divided between songs that I either tried to find
but could not obtain, or songs that I sort of like some, but would not
be crazy least not enough to buy. I will perhaps someday find
a site that lets me hear all the songs on a CD before I order it...
that's the only way I will likely buy one.
   Would I pay, say, a buck a song to download it to my computer?
You bet I would! You already pay about a buck a week to download
from sites like Traveler and Wanderer. I could put all my favorite
songs, all hundred or thousand or whatever, onto my computer and play
them in any order I like (with my budget it would probably take
several years to do this at a dollar apiece, of course). This way,
the musician would get at least some money (probably not much less
than they do now, since we would get rid of some of the middlemen
who are a necessary evil now) and indeed, they would still be able
to live far better than I do now!
   Another idea I have is to make music public domain after, say,
twenty years. I do not get paid for the work I did last month,
much less twenty years ago. Each paycheck means I have to earn the
next paycheck. I certainly don't get paid for the tools my
father made, or the milk his father delivered, or Mom's paintings,
or the books my mother's father wrote. If the song is good, surely the
fans will not want to wait over a thousand weeks to get it! Of course,
I have to confess that almost all the songs I like are over twenty
years old (I'm getting crotchety..."they ain't made any good music
since the Eighties, dad-gum!"). This might encourage more music...
the artist would have to keep producing!
   What about books and movies? I have saved and read a few science
fiction books on my hard drive. This is not ready for prime time yet.
It is not as much fun to read on a monitor as it is to read on a page.
I have never downloaded a movie, but I have all the episodes of
Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground (not The Adventures of Sonic
the Hedgehog...I would not waste the disk space for that!). It is 
closer to prime time, but there is still something lacking...
it is like watching a postage stamp or a watercolor, even when it
flows smoothly. But both of these will likely be competitive in a few
more years. Music is not the last area that will be hit by file sharing.
   The real revolution will come in the early 21st Century, probably in
another couple decades...perhaps in just one. Molecular nanotechnology
will give us the science fiction dream of the matter replicator.
How will our economic system react, or even survive, when one can
download a file containing the "recipe" for a television, a gun, a
painting, a tuxedo, or whatever...and make it by shoveling a few
pounds of dirt into your Drexlerizer (TM)? The first successful
prototype may cost a hundred million to make...and the succeeding
ones will cost two cents, because they will be used to replicate
themselves first. A billion kids have wished for Santa Claus...
be careful what you wish for - you might get it!

After this was posted I purchased an Ipod. This did not work
out for two reasons, First, at least at the time, they had very little
of the "golden oldies" I like. Second, I did not like walking around
with it because I have Asperger's Syndrome, and tend to be laser minded
rather than flashlight minded. I do not like walking into things.
Also after this I deleted all the real audio on my computer, even the
numerous songs I have already purchased. I now listen to the radio
(I have recently gotten into Contemporary Christian Music), one listen
of songs anyone emails (before deleting) and streaming audio. I have also
recycled my old computer and purchased a new one, so you can't even 
restore the deleted music (which I have no clue how to do anyway).
I had stupidly not noticed the warning on Traveler's Website about
not downloading songs you had not purchased, and I was WRONG to have
done so. I leave the above as a testament how even a "good Catholic"
can rationalize "the site may go 404 and it sounds better on the HD and..."
I have confessed this to my priest and I will NEVER do this again.
I am remorseful that I may have damaged Traveler's reputation, but I just
never happened to think of updating this page even after I learned I was
wrong at a time I could...always while driving or at work. Then I was unable 
to use FTP on my old computer for a couple years for some reason.
My personal life was also in chaos during this period. I regret having
done this, and renounce all the opinions I expressed above (except the
one about molecular nanotechnology). Let me hope that this belated 
update repairs some of the damage I have done, and I ask you never
to do what I did, albeit only a few times. I WAS WRONG.
I have also told a cousin to get rid of all his "free" music,
and he has agreed to.