Friday, May 27, 2005

The Tale of Evil Mr. Big

So I was reading Metafilter as usual today, and really enjoyed this post and the resulting discussion. In fact, I spent more time than usual on MeFi, and hopefully the Boss will not find out - Memorial Day weekend starts this afternoon, and they want me to concentrate on work - that's a funny joke.

Anyway, I wanted to dedicate an entire post to my fellow MeFite cleardawn's response to goatdog's sarcastic question:

Wait, so some people think it's ok to download movies and songs, and other people don't? When did this develop, and why wasn't I consulted?

cleardawn resonds:

Well, goatdog, are you sitting comfortably?

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, everyone was happily singing and dancing, telling stories, playing games, cooking meals for each other, sharing their land and their lives, and teaching each other all that they knew for the sheer blissful joy of it.

Then, one day, a dark cloud fell over Happytown. Evil Mr Big had arrived!

Immediately, evil Mr Big decided that from now on, all the songs, all the stories, all the games, all the land, all the lives, and all the knowledge in the world belonged to him, and to him alone.

If anyone else in Happytown wanted to use any of Mr Big's intellectual property, they would have to pay him for it - in blood!

Evil Mr Big also started television channels and newspapers, which constantly repeated the message that evil Mr Big was kind and good and had created all the knowledge in the world himself. Mr Big's newspapers and TV channels also repeated, over and over, that anyone who sang or told a story without paying evil Mr Big was a thief and a criminal and should be shot.

And many people - though not, perhaps, the majority - eventually started to believe what evil Mr Big's newspapers and TV channels told them. And so, when other people tried to sing or dance without paying Evil Mr Big, they would shout, "Thief! Thief! You're stealing from everybody else!" and go running for Evil Mr Big's henchmen.

And there we are. I leave it to further contributors to continue the story.

(copyright cleardawn productions. all rights reserved. buy your Evil Mr Big dolls now at

-----posted by cleardawn at 8:45 AM PST on May 26

I like stories. On the matter of internet piracy I am still kind of on the fence. Again, it's a "shades-of-gray" thing. On the one hand, I definitely don't agree with people SELLING pirated movies/music/stories/whatever. And on the other hand, I don't think filesharing necessarily constitutes pirating - what makes it any different than borrowing the video/CD/book from your friend? The sci-fi author that I linked to a couple of days ago says it best. I guess I would have a problem with P2P if people were actually making money off of it - like if the site that was hosting Revenge of the Sith was using Google AdSense (or whatever) to try to make a salary so he could quit his job and just live off the profits from millions of people visiting his site to download the movie. But I'm fairly certain that the majority of P2P hosts don't work this way - especially now that they are using Usenet as a means to fileshare more anonymously. There's no way to make money from that. They just want to share something cool with the world.

Anway, cleardawn's story just made me smile - he's simplified the issue to the extreme, but what it boils down to is fundamentally the way it seems to work in most cases. What really annoys me is that usually the artists themselves don't give a damn if their stuff is shared on the internet (especially musicians, as it gets the word out - take, for instance, Fiona Apple's latest offering), and it's the money-men - the managers, the lawyers, the record labels, the major movie studios - that make the fuss. And they already have millions of dollars! Oy. Why can't we just get back to happily dancing and sharing for the sheer blissful joy of it?! (And yes, we have already established that I am a hippy at heart.) But I also like to purchase and support anything that I find interesting and fun - I may download a free song or movie now and then for easy access on the computer, but I also purchase just as many CDs and DVDs as ever - in fact, I purchase more than ever, due to the fact that I make more money now. I just don't understand the filesharing problem as it is explained to the masses - stop making it a money issue! It's a control issue, plain and simple. And I positively detest people/corporations who delude themselves (and others) into thinking they are in control.

*** Double-flips off of soapbox ***



At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be perfectly honest with you, I'm not sure what to make of filesharing. Some of my actions tend to contradict statements that I've made either for or against filesharing. I don't currently take an active part in online filesharing simply because I'm afraid of becoming the next target of a RIAA lawsuit. With the 12,000+ songs that I have on my computer, I worry what they would say or what blame they would try to pin on me, deserved or not.

But, then again, none of them have been obtained via sources such as the old Napster, LimeWire, etc., etc., ad infinitum. All of them have come from CDs or purchased from iTunes Music Store.

However, I can't honestly say that I personally own all those CDs that the songs came from. A friend of mine and I perform our own "filesharing" by sending data CDs of MP3s back and forth to each other. It never extends past our two-party network. But each of us also frequents our local library and we check out CDs that we rip to our computers and send these copies back and forth as well. The library doesn't have a problem with it. In fact, I was forthright with them about what I do when I check out their CDs. All they said was, so long as you return the CD and the case and can honestly tell us that you are not making money off us, we are fine. Actually, several of the librarians thought what I was doing was a rather good idea. Ripping to my computer so I could listen at work or listen on my iPod.

I guess if the RIAA would consistently put out good music instead of putting one good song on an entire CD and charging me $10+ to purchase the one track, I would not have a problem giving them my money. But the RIAA and all the record companies out there wouldn't know a good album if it crawled up their butts and started doing a tango.

Viva la filesharing!

No, not really...

Viva la library!

There we go!

K @ (you know who it is)

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Carol Danvers said...

Kevin -

Good point about the library - and I know for a fact that you are not the only person to do that. And I don't really know what makes that any different than filesharing.

Like I said, I'm still on the fence about that stuff - especially about movies which aren't even out on DVD yet - I figure once they're out to buy, they're pretty much fair game. But you know, there's really no way to tell if the act of filesharing is actually making a movie like Revenge of the Sith lose money.

Meh - too much thought is required to continue commenting on this - it's Sunday and I feel like vegging on the couch - I'll leave the ethics discussion for another day...

- Carol

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, how do you measure what is lost? I can tell you this for sure, there is no money lost by my "filesharing" because if I didn't get it from a friend or from the library, I never would have gotten it in the first place. I'm not about to waste my hard-earned green on something that is not tried and true. Same with movies... do you really think that these same people were planning to go to theater to see the movie that they downloaded? Some maybe. But not all. Some of those that DL'd are people that never would have considered seeing a film anyway if it wasn't "free."


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