On October 26, we saw the tragic passing of our beloved LimeWire: a service for the less torrent-savvy among us, LimeWire represented a large portion of the peer-to-peer market.
LimeWire was served a court injunction by the Record Industry Association of America, a trust representing a huge proportion of record labels and distributors in the United States that tries to maintain a monopoly on the North American music scene.
The death of LimeWire represents yet another attempt by corporate interest to control and stem the flow of free information sharing: the sharing of art in the form of music. This has been going on since the infamous Napster shutdown in the late nineties.
For most of human history, music has been freely disseminated among the population in popular and aristocratic forms with only the listener as judge. But since the invention of recording technology in the early twentieth century, record companies have sought to maintain control over who and what we hear, not to mention how much we pay. This has made them incredibly rich, while they have mistreated and exploited artists in order to sell the most albums possible.
But the internet and free music sharing changed all this. Within the past ten years, we’ve seen the incredible proliferation of smaller indie bands and niche music scenes which were silenced in the name of profits in years past. Today, because of free music sharing, we can follow bands we actually enjoy for their artistic merits, rather than be forced into one of Billboard’s ten preselected money-making genres.
Thanks to pioneering programs like LimeWire, we live in a different world: today we can appreciate music directly from its source, without the money-making paws of record company middlemen impoverishing artists and consumers alike, while restricting choice and musical expression. But if these corporations had their way, they would eliminate this possibility altogether and force us back into their money-making mould, all the while claiming to do it in the interest of their artists’ livelihood.
Students and lovers of music should be wary of moves like this. LimeWire may have been easy pickings, but torrents are next on the list of these corporations. They seek to dominate the dissemination of music like they once did. Don’t be fooled by their sweet-talk about artists’ rights: all these companies want is to force us all back into the bind we’ve managed to break out of.
I call all you lovers of music to arms: download, and download proudly; show these companies that we love l’art pour l’art, and not for profit! The internet should be our great equalizer – a step not unlike that of the printing press. Do not let this money-worshipping clergy try to block our access to artistic expression and free dissemination of music!
Wyatt N.-Weber is a U0 Arts student. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.