Monday, June 27, 2005

I might have whined a bit about the Supreme Court's Grokster decision, which, if you just go by the headlines, was saying "file-sharing is illegal." A reversal of the Sony case from 20 years ago (Sony was sued by movie studio for producing VCRs because they could be used to infringe on copyrighted material) siding with Big Business this time, innovation will never be possible if the industry leaders sue anyone who tries to break out of their oligarchy, yadda yadda yadda. But I looked at a few details of the case, and it seems there's really nothing controversial at all about this. The Supremes said that it's illegal to provide a service or product that can be used illegally... IF that illegal use is the primary use of the product and it is marketed like that. It would only be comparable to Sony's case if Sony had been selling camcorders as "a great way to make money by going to the movies!"

For that matter, I got a lot more ambivalent about file sharing after last summer when I was subbing. Until then I supported it because I had heard some bullshit sophistry from a friend which basically boiled down to "information wants to be free," and I was pissed about how a discussion about Napster coming to campus was so one-sided, and hey, I'd take any excuse I could get to continue using file-sharing technology because I liked having an eclectic mix of ~300 songs on my computer. But then I tried explaining to a few dozen high school students what plagiarism was and why it's bad and why I had to give them a failing grade on an important project if they did it, and the two issues seem sort of connected. So ever since I got my iPod, I've only illegally downloaded a handful of songs and I've bought from iPod (or just from all the rest of my new music.

Also, I was reading the paper a couple days ago, and apparently I'm part of the "Entitlement Generation." Only one thought, really: hogwash. This is a combination of consultants getting paid to find trends whether or not they actually exist and the eternal old people whining about young people.

When you take into account the massive layoffs and billion-dollar corporate accounting swindles that make the news every few months, the fact that these days the average person is expected to have something like five careers in his lifetime, and the fact that people with a few coveted engineering or scientific degrees can expect to make almost as much right out of college as my mom is making right now, it's amazing that my generation doesn't have even less respect for the rat race. We're the children of the first generation in history, I think, who shouldn't expect to work for one boss or even in one industry for their whole life, and this whole "entitlement generation" stuff is just people internalizing that. Why should we be prepared to give 110% of our effort and all of our social life to an employer like a 1950s sitcom dad when we'll probably be working for someone else in five years?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I decided a while back that file sharing just had to be morally wrong. Unfortunately, I never really bothered to articulate this; it just started to seem the same as stealing to me.

Of course, I do make mp3s of my mom's cds and listen to those without a qualm. I think there's a legal distinction there, because I could borrow them with the same results. She has too many to be listening to the same ones at the same time.

One of my friends had a philosophy of donating to the Electronic Fronteir Foundation (EFF) every time he buys a CD. This is a kind of evening-out measure for the money that goes to the file-sharing lawsuits and the copyright-protection pseudo-CDs, to which he's philosophically opposed.

Kudos for the intellectualism. =D