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News Flash
Thu., July 13, 2000
Direct bookmark: http://HyperRust.org/News/?f-Napster
(updated )
Neil's Napster Statement
"Past, present and future..."

Also See: --> NeilYoung.com.
As the music industry gives major focus on MP3s, downloading and Napster, and as Metallica goes to Washington to testify before Congress, word comes from Neil's camp that he's ready to make his statement on the issue. Neil's long-time film collaborator, film producer L.A. Johnson passes the word...
"Neil is going to make a statement about Napster, called 'A Statement on Napster and Artist Rights -- Past, Present and Future' , in the Archive Theatre at neilyoung.com. It speaks for itself."
Although the film clip, which dates back to the early 70s, does "speak for itself", the message isn't exactly obvious. As is so common for every artistic statement Neil makes, you do have to interpret it...

The "action" takes place in a Tapes and Records store on Santa Monica Blvd. Neil thumbs through the records and encounters several bootlegs, one of which happens to be a CSNY bootleg LP. Neil confronts the store clerk with the record and decides that he's going to take it with him. He tells the clerk to go ahead and call the cops, and exits the store.

The clerk follows Neil outside onto the dark evening sidewalks with cars whizzing by on the busy boulevard, and convinces him to return and discuss the issue with the store manager. After they return to the store, the clerk gets the manager on the phone and hands it to Neil.

Neil tells the manager that he's going to take the bootleg record with him because basically "everything legal that could be done {about bootlegs} has already been done". Apparently the manager doesn't want to turn it into a major case and gives Neil the okay to take it.

After paying for a candle that was accidently broken by the cameraman, Neil leaves. The cameraman continues to film as the next customer sells the clerk a handful of used 8-track tapes for a buck a piece. After that guy leaves, the clerk asserts that After The Gold Rush and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere are great albums.

So what does this have to do with Napster? Here are some possible interpretations...

  • The sale of bootleg recordings and the commercial facilitation of free exchange of released music both represent exploitation for profit of music that doesn't belong to the person doing the exploitation.

  • The clerk in the store continuously asserts that he doesn't have anything to do with the "bad" part of bootlegging, that he just helps to pass along music that other people make available, some of which happen to be bootlegs.

  • The Napster folks continuously assert that they don't have anything to do with the "bad" part of free trading of released music, that they just help to pass along music that other people make available, some (most) of which just happens to have been ripped from commercial CDs.

  • The artists themselves haven't really been given a roll in these activities, and they damn well should be.
Of course that's just one way to look at it, and it can't be claimed that that is Neil's point at all. The final interpretation is up to you...

The Boot Marauder disappears into the night...





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