Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 25, 2000 / 24 Menachem-Av, 5760

Michelle Malkin

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

A conservative case against Napster -- CONSERVATIVES have been at the forefront of defending Microsoft's intellectual property rights, but are reluctant to criticize Napster for fear of seeming anti-technology and pro-government. Don't be intimidated by the cyber-mob. Napster is about freeloading, not freedom.

Napster, for those of you who still own phonographs, is the popular software program that allows Internet users to trade free music files and trash copyright laws.

Everyone knows someone who has used it – and it's not just members of the nose-ringed generation who are guilty. But instead of admitting that what they're doing is wrong, many Napster advocates can't help but make ridiculous rationalizations for what amounts to habitual high-tech theft.

Self-anointed "futurists" argue that Napster shouldn't be stopped because it would put a damper on innovation and creative liberty. Digital distribution is the wave of the future, they preach. MP3s (the file format used to digitize music) are here to stay, they crow.

Yes, the technology is cool. But the mere existence of MP3 technology doesn't legitimize the rampant illicit use of that technology.

Defenders ask why Napster should be liable for the copyright violations of its users. As one writer put it on a message board at "Automakers don't get sued when someone breaks the law while behind the wheel. VCR makers are not bothered when millions of people pirate videos. Why should Napster be held accountable for their users violating copyright laws?" Why? Because car manufacturers and VCR makers don't create a product whose primary use is intended to break the law. Napster's main purpose for existence, however, is to enable the mass circumvention of intellectual property rights and create a paradise for people in search of stolen goods.

Some goo-goo-eyed Napsterites couch the service as an enterprise in "sharing." The 20 million people who use Napster to pirate music are a "community," the argument goes. They are simply celebrating a common interest. Give me a break. Napster has as much communal spirit as a shoplifters' convention.

A new survey conducted by two scientists at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center shows that users of another Napster-like music-trading system called Gnutella are far more interested in hogging files than sharing them. Their study found that "upwards of 70% of Gnutella users share no files, and that 90% of the users answer no queries." It's a classic example of free riding.

Napster advocates say no one is hurt by the system. At the margin, this may be true. But in the aggregate, Napstering is not a victimless crime. There are musicians and songwriters and marketers and publicists and record companies getting ripped off tens of thousands of times a day thanks to the website.

Napster champions fall back on business-bashing when their other bogus arguments fall apart. They complain about high CD prices and turn up the class warfare rhetoric against "greedy" record companies that are "only out for a profit." Expecting to get compensated for your work isn't greedy. Feeling entitled to distribute and copy others' work without paying for it, is. And as the musicians who run the Stop Napster website note: "You don't get a license to steal just because you think the product is too expensive."

When they're not complaining about high CD prices, the Napsterites point to increased CD sales as a reason to keep the website alive. That has more to do with a good economy than with anything else. It's disingenuous at best to argue that Napster encourages users to buy music that the service makes available for free. Just listen to members of the Napster generation honest enough to admit why they use it:

"I haven't bought a CD in forever," 17-year-old Zack H. told the Chicago Tribune. "Because of Napster, I don't have to."

"Napster's the best thing ever created," a high school student named Alejandro told Newsweek magazine. "I don't have to spend any money."

Napster gurus can prattle on about promoting creativity and protecting the future from us Stone Agers. But behind this glitzy cyber-rhetoric is liberalism's moldy old belief in getting something for nothing.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
08/18/00: The party of Maxine Waters
08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate