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Bush & Gore on Napster: compromise but pay up?

Vision of seismic change in music distribution strangely absent

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The collective wisdom of candidates Bush and Gore has failed to shed significant light on the Napster controversy. Faced with a question on the subject at the Web White & Blue rolling election cyber-debate site, both sought - it's funny when you think about it - some kind of middle road.

But close textual analysis suggests that it's actually The Great Inventor who inclines to a solution that takes a percentage from every song copied. Gore looks back to the arrival of radio, when the broadcast of songs apparently threatened artists' income, and says: "It's similar in some ways to the Napster phenomenon, and they came up with solutions.

"Now, artists are compensated every time a song is played on the radio. It ought to be easier, over time, to come up with a way that has a little bit of compensation for artists."

If he thinks most artists in the great days of radio got much more than a flat fee and instructions to get lost, he's clearly not looking back very hard. But skip that - his inclination seems to be to implement some kind of performing rights system equivalent for Napster-type systems. Add to that protection systems (Gore doesn't mention these, probably isn't on the case yet) that limit the use of digital music files, and you could figure music business nirvana - files you can listen to once after you've copied them, but that's that.

Bush was vaguer. He ducks the Napster case claiming sub judice, and says: "However, I do believe we must find a way to apply our copyright laws to ensure that artists, writers, and creators can earn a profit from their creations, while at the same time, adapting to and utilizing new technologies to deliver media to consumers in an Information Age."

In the same direction as Gore, but perhaps not quite so far. But both sound like people the music business could work with.

Isn't it curious though how much concern there seems to be about the poor starving artists, and how seldom the bloated music industry corporations' cut is mentioned? Especially by the bloated music industry corporations... ®

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