SAUC Open Letter
I am writing this message in response to your recent Open Letter published on the SAUC web site. In your letter, you not only chastise Napster for allowing copyright violation, but you also seem to tacitly support the actions taken by the RIAA against so-called music pirates. In your letter, you characterize the copyright laws as "a bit too stringent." Chad, if anything, this is a vast understatement. The copyright laws were originally designed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, after a modest period when the artist or copyright author may be able to profit form his or her work. Under the current scheme, as dictated by the entertainment industry and their political allies, this modest period has grown to well over a hundred years. Obviously, the original purpose of the copyright law has been mutated in favor of copyright owners who wish to make a profit well after they are dead. The copyright laws no longer support the public interest, as originally intended.
In your Open Letter, you mention the fact that Napster's CEO, Eileen Richardson, appeared on ABC News with Sam Donaldson. You were horrified that Ms. Richardson seemed to not care about the issue of so-called copyright infringement. You neglected to mention, however, that a poll taken on this particular show indicated that nearly 60 percent of viewers saw nothing wrong with downloading MP3 files of copyrighted material. Of course, as Donaldson mentioned, the poll was hardly scientific. Yet it would appear that many people do not believe that sharing MP3 files is illegal or unethical, as you and the recording industry believe.
Chad, it is my understanding that the initial purpose of SAUC was to organize against and petition universities that had banned Napster. I have noticed that you have suspended the petition, which leads me to believe that SAUC no longer bears any relevance in this debate. Obviously, SAUC has not only outlived its usefulness, but has also, in record time, become an anachronism. Unfortunately, for many, the perception now is that your organization is a mouthpiece for the RIAA. Maybe you should take down the site entirely?
Finally, the music industry must change. If it takes a Napster or Gnutella to do this, so be it. We can no longer tolerate a monopoly on our music, which is, after all, a commonly held cultural asset. This is not to say that artists should not be rewarded for gifting us with music, but rather that the current corporate monopoly – in fact, the entire corporate mindset in regard to music and other commonly held cultural assets – must change. The sooner this happens – be it by Internet technology or boycotts or a mass change in attitudes – the better.
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