My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Long Tail - Another View

As the owner of a record label, I view downloading and burning with horror. Illegal downloading has hit the music industry hard, and I've been caught in the cross-fire. While a lot of people might not be illegally downloading my company's music, the resultant loss of music sales has hit retailers hard. And, that makes it tougher on me to get CDs into stores.

Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine, has been writing recently about the long tail - the fact that Amazon, Ebay, and iTunes have broken through distribution bottlenecks and now just about everybody has the technology to sell and trade their wares. This is all true enough.

The Supreme Court of the US is now hearing a case involving Grokster, a downloading site, vs. MGM. Not surprising, in today's LA Times, Anderson comes down on the side of the downloaders:
What's at stake is the realm of ideas, sliced and diced a million ways. The peer-to-peer music sites are the closest current approximation to the celestial jukebox we all want. Kazaa, for instance, has 25 million unique tracks, dwarfing iTunes' measly 1 million. BitTorrent has more videos than Blockbuster. Much of it is pirated, to be sure, but a significant portion of it — videogame highlights, say — was never intended to be moneymaking in the first place. The problem is that we don't know how to stop the piracy without chilling the creativity.
The problem, to me, is that while Kazaa has a lot more tracks - most of them are being traded illegally, and the same with BitTorrent. Why this sort of theft is tolerated is beyond me. Anderson claims that "we don't know how to stop the piracy without chilling the creativity."

Sorry, I think we can. Kazaa and BitTorent specialize in pirated content: Amazon and iTunes don't. It's not technology; it's morality. Stealing is just plain wrong and we must do all we can to fight it.