Napster scolded me

First, I received a hand-wringing apology from Napster, expressing regret for their reactionary attempts to block copyrighted music that resulted in the blockage, or “filtering,” of hundreds of thousands of other non-copyrighted songs. It was actually pertinent since I was fresh off another round of manic downloading, all apart of the swelling anticipation that Napster had reached its musical end.

Indeed, in the space of 24 hours many of my previously held musical selections were mysteriously absent from the service, even those that I knew were not explicitly covered by the appeals court ruling that lambasted Napster into further filtration efforts. It was disconcerting to be blocked by the very service that raised me in the art of the musical download with a dash of stylistic anti-corporate politics thrown into the mix for good measure.

Next came a stern warning from Napster (still on the Web site as of today) about my abhorrent behavior. I was a music hound, that’s true, researching and cross-referencing and downloading; so far down that I couldn’t even sit upright after one disco-themed all-niter, just me and the Nap shaking our groove thang. The other Napster peers and I (as a part of peer-to-peer sharing, or P2P), it seems, have deliberately altered our file names to evade Napster’s efforts to comply with the injunction that castigated them for their incorrigibility in their filtration efforts.

In other words, Destiny’s Child should not be Destiny’s Chillun’ (which escaped filtration), Tool is not Oolta (the Pig-Latin evasion, just like slumber parties, kids!) and BonJovi is not BonBonJovi, no matter how bouffant their hair was a few years back.

Napster finds itself, as do all its users, in a very peculiar place. First, following the letter of the law, but not its “spirit” is the backbone of Napster in the first place. Yes, they, and I are evading copyrights by sharing music, plain and simple.

A part of Napster’s own rationale is that more people will buy more music in the long run because of, not despite their, increased exposure to more music; a part of this explanation makes musical sense, but another part rings quite na퀌�ve and hollow.

I have definitely been exposed to more music, and more of the time, but my consumption of “purchased” music has remained steady. In other words, I still buy what I would “normally” buy, but I wish I could enjoy possession of a lot more, thanks to Napster.

Somehow middle ground must be fashioned, but for Napster to scold its users is the ultimate of Internet ironies (and there are many). Like the judge stated in the first ruling, “you (Napster) created this monster,” you deal with it.

However, in the meantime, Judge Patel has turned her annoyance at the record companies, basically informing them over the weekend that if they wanted something “filtered” out, they better know what it is and how it is presented on the technology. This was an essential reprieve for Napster, and for me, and I love that I didn’t have to lie anymore about loving Ollyda Artonpa.