Think the music industry dislikes Napster now? Wait until it gets wind of what some users of the site's software are doing to record-company intellectual property! Check it out. On a copy of the Napster software program, type "vs." in the song-search box. Hundreds of crude home remixes come up, each consisting of two or more popular hits.
These remixes are named for the artists whose tracks are mixed together: for instance, "Everlast vs. Limp Bizkit," "Fatboy Slim vs. Steppenwolf."
One of the best ones I found is the mistitled "Insane Clown Posse vs. Britney Spears," in which Baby One More Time is interlaced with the hook from Cypress Hill's pot song Insane In The Brain.
The tracks carry no info about who did the remixes, nor are they likely to exist anywhere outside the home computers hooked up to Napster.
I caught up with one Napster user, anagnostis1312, via the software's chat function and had to coax it out of him that he made a few of these tracks.
"These songs are very easy to make," he finally tells me."The programs we have are fantastic!" He tells me he uses Rebirth, a software version of an analog synthesizer.
The music industry will hate these remixes for the same reason it hates Napster to begin with. But these home projects muddy the waters of the copyright debate even further.
No longer are people just passively listening to digital music. They're making their own art from copyrighted materials.
And attempts to stop this creative song-splicing, or even the trading that allows it to take place, may harm more people than just the remixers. The Recording Industry Association of America (www.riaa.org) certainly doesn't recognize the danger its aggressive stance poses.
It may be endangering nothing less than the democratic process itself. The entire entertainment industry grew up under the umbrella of copyright protection. And yet, if we're not careful, that industry may end up hampering our ability to freely exchange ideas.
What happens when Napster is shut down and piracy continues unabated through the likes of Gnutella and Freenet, two file-sharing programs that no one person is responsible for running (or legally liable for)? Is it inconceivable that the record biz powers-that-be could break apart the Internet itself?
Not at all.
From the Baltimore City Paper