In theory, we live in a democratic republic. That means that you, the senators who no doubt don't even bother to read their own email (even though I routinely deal with several hundred emails a day successfully, and I have no doubt you could too - could even build a very simple system where emails with new ideas get to you, while emails with old ideas don't) are our elected representatives, to carry out our wishes.
Well, the public of the US likes napster. We really like it. We've voted with our feet, and our hard drive space. The record companies would like to restrict us from using napster, because they want to sell their own similar services. You all are easily bought, and they have more money than we do, so you're going to support their side. I accept that. But I'd like you to think about something.
Every civilization leaves behind a cultural heritage. The reason the works of Beethoven and Bach and Mozart are around is that someone bothered to save them in a permanent way - and make enough copies to provide for redundancy. What napster and similar digital services do is archive our music similarly, so that someone two thousand years from now might hear it. They enable us to save our heritage.
'But what about CDs, cassettes, and other storage?', you ask. Well, CDs are instable - they are made of plastic that decays over time. It's very unlikely that a single CD copy will be playable 200 years from now. Same story with tape - and, because it's analog, it has very little redundancy.
Mind you, I'm not saying ten million hard drives that have downloaded the MP3s will still be playable thousands of years from now. But napster is more than a software system - it's an idea. And as long as that data continues to be copied from host to host, it will survive.
In addition, napster allows us to choose the music _we_ think is good for our personal collections. Often, that is music we already own in CD form, but because CDs are very impermanent, our archival CDs are no longer readable. For example, the sound track to the original muppet movie is no longer available on CD, and my CD of it is unreadable from overuse. (While it doesn't damage CDs to play them, it does damage them to be ejected and handled.. and if you listen a lot to a CD, the results are cumulative). I couldn't get another copy of this CD if I wanted to - they go for $120 on ebay usually.
OTOH, napster lets me download it in a few minutes. And there's nothing illegal about me downloading that - after all, I already own the media, so I must own a license.
In addition, may I remind you that any law on the books the people don't believe in weakens other laws. If you try and shut down napster, people will still find ways to do file sharing - they will build a distributed net, like Gnutella, which you _can't_ shut down. Don't try and turn back this tide. The people have spoken - and they want napster. If you force us all to become outlaws just to share music, you're weakening your own government. Weaken it enough, and we'll finally turn off our TVs and revolt. (It's about bloody time, to tell the truth. Think about the government you work for. Yes, it's good. But couldn't it be made better? I mean, you must believe that, or you wouldn't be working for it. Now, tell me, couldn't it be made a whole lot better, cheaper, faster, and better representing of it's citizens if the fat could be cut and another constitutional convention convened? I mean, admit it. The system is broken. We ALL know that.)
Anyway, do what you can. If you want to really impress me, respond to this email with a email that wasn't computer-carbon-copied out of a database by some third-string aide who will never tell you any of the ideas presented herein. Respond to my ideas with ideas of your own - I'd welcome a dialog. I'm sure any of the citizens would. But respond. Or do something.
Dianne, I voted for you. Despite the fact that you aren't from my party - because I liked your record. This means I took time out from my day to review your record, as well as your competition's, and decide who I thought was best - then I took further time to go down and punch my ballot. Sadly, much of my generation can't be bothered to get off their collective duffs and do so - because they think the system is so broken a vote makes no difference. And, I have to admit, this recent election makes it look as if they are right. But remember that I was one of the however many hundred thousand people who went and punched in for you, because they believed in you. Remember, and do something about it.
Thank you for your time,
Mission Viejo, CA
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