Hollywood vs. the Internet
I'd like to answer Mike Godwin's unasked question: "Nobody's asking ordinary people what they want" ("Hollywood vs. the Internet," May).
Here are my ordinary credentials: married, middle income, late 20s, technologically competent, broadband customer. I used to buy a substantial amount of music (pre-teen through 22�23 years old). In recent years, however, my music tastes differed so greatly from mainstream and alternative music that I found it hard not to waste my money buying albums I did not like. I tried to develop highly subjective criteria for making good guesses on these discs. My gambles occasionally paid off, but mostly they failed. I eventually stopped buying music altogether.
If I could sift through a music label's library or a new album to find songs that I like, and then burn them on a CD, I just might start buying music again. Would I share a song with a friend? Why not? I grew up sharing mixed tapes with friends. It resembles marketing more than piracy. When I heard musicians I really liked, I bought their music because a mix tape never qualified as a fan's proper asset. Digital delivery doesn't change that.
The music industry should worry less about my stealing their content and more about someone new stealing their business. They can slap a watermark on a CD or MP3 that protects it from unlicensed activities, but they can't force people to buy it. Pandora's box is open. The power to tailor CDs to the individual exists. The music moguls can either embrace this model or fight it. If they fight it, they leave the door wide open for an enterprising company to stroll in and make itself at home. Artists sign with labels because they see it as the only way to sell albums and make a living. If a viable alternative can give them similar exposure and income, they will go where the money is. And customers like me will follow them.
New York, NY
Are all these smart people nuts? The ability to copy music and movies has been with us for years. The reason people don't often copy things today is not because they don't want an "imperfect" analog copy; 99 percent can't tell the difference and never will.
The reason is that most people have lives. Time is too precious to waste on finding and copying a $10 disc or tape. Nobody who could have afforded to pay for the original disc in the first place is going to bother ripping it off. Sure, college kids may; they notoriously have more time and ingenuity than money. Some others may copy some songs from a CD onto a cassette or CD to play in the car.
So what? They can do that now, and the recording industry survives.
So you can transmit digital stuff to your Internet buddies. Is that a lot different from lending your tape to the student in the next dorm room or the officemate in the next cubicle?
Piracy won't happen as long as the industry doesn't rip us off at $80 a movie or $25 a CD. The deterrent to piracy is not "watermarks" and intolerable restrictions on software. It's a reasonable price for the product -- one that makes it too costly in terms of customer time to bother stealing it. That deterrent works just fine today. It will continue to work in the future.
In "Hungry for the Next Fix" (May), Stanton Peele writes, "The main factor in successful resolution of a drug or alcohol problem is the ability to find rewards in ordinary existence and to form caring relationships with people who are not addicts." What a bunch of touchy-feely crap!
As someone with personal experience with addiction, I can tell you why I used to drink and smoke too much: I liked it! It had nothing to do with "caring relationships" and everything to do with how it made me feel.