Where were you when you heard about Napster? Personally, I’m not totally sure. It was a fair while before I tried to use the system, and when I did it wasn’t very much, But I still belive Napster is A Good Thing and A Bad Thing because I belive in the concept of Abandonware.
Abandonware is software that is now unsupported by the people who originally made it. The term was coined for the Gaming industry for games that – due to the shifting sands of publishers and developers – are no longer either owned or acknolaged by the people who originally created them. There are spots in the darkness, Stuff like Elite – which is still being argued over today, and there are also black holes: Stuff like the anchient Atari games (Pong, Space Invaders, Centipiede, etc.) which were bought by Hasbro and turned into Spinny-Rotaty-Neatocool 3D versions. Which were crap. But I digress. There are games that have fallen out of the back catalogue. Like Lemmings 2, orginally created by DMA Design for Psygnosis was lost when Psygnosis were bought by Sony. You cannot and will not find this game supported anywhere, because DMA are on to GTA3 and their new bits and are no longer affilated with Psygnosis (Who own Lemmings, AFAIK), and Psygnosis no longer acnolage it because it is no longer part of their structure. Vanished.
So people who have the game put it online. There is no way Psygnosis would make money from it anyway, because they don’t support it anymore, and there are no new productions. People who want these games actually want these games. But Copyright law means that you can’t distribute it unless you are given permisson to by the creator/owner. This is why I support (From a distance – I’ve never actually used it) things like Freeloader, which allows you to download (fairly recent) games in return for eyeballing a few adverts, and I also occasionally trawl the Abandonware sites when – in a fit of nostagia – I want to play some old game I lost the disks for ages ago, Or owned the Amiga version of, or always wanted to play. I point out for the record that I am no longer a Software Pirate. Back in my Amiga days, I had the occasionally copied game – who didn’t? – but when I decided it would be in my interests to pay for the games I played (if only so there would continue to be games in the future) I formatted all the pirate disks I had. I’m digressing again.
To sum up the above paragraph, Abandonware Good. So why Napster Good?
Napster is (was) a fantastic source of the musical equivalent of Abandonware, stuff you would never ever buy, or possibly even find, but could now listen too. Unfortuanatly with the technology was the ability to put everyhing online, including all the stuff the record companies are selling in stores up and down the country, across the world. and including the stuff that is actually making artists money. This is coming into the Information Wants To Be Free argument, which is another rant in the brewing, which states that the imporant thing is the creation of the information or the art, The payment is secondary. Unfortunatly it’s a necessary secondary, In order to continue the Art you must feed, clothe and house yourself and those dependant on you for food, clothing and shelter, and in the society we live in you cannot do this. Artists and Information Gatherers alike require sponsership of activities. And if you are giving away for free what they need to sell for money, then you maybe are depriving the future, because they may be forced to give up and do something that actually pays.
Like web design.
(Hint, Do I want to sell my soul? No. In an ideal world, I’d write for a living, or invent websites, Or combine the two and get paid for Aquarionics. This is not an ideal world, so I am jobhunting)
This started with Napster, so it goes back. The tracks I have downloaded Napster have been:
- They Might Be Giants tracks
- Tom Leher tracks.
- Random Whim Tracks
Of the above, I have bought the two TMBG albums that contain the tracks I downloaded and the entire TL back catalogue. Some of the Random Whims I would like to buy the albums for but can’t because they don’t sell/ship them here, some were just random things I wanted to hear again. None of the tracks I havn’t bought are things I would actually pay for, usually because they are single tracks from entire albums/box-sets, and not even I will spend