It's a blog.
In: Uncategorized25 May 2010
It’s often said that information wants to be free. I think the Internet’s had a really large role in shaping that — not just helping information to be free, but in making people want information to be free.
For example, my roommate was talking a while ago about the song customarily played at Red Sox games, Tessie. Not the modern one, but the one from the early 20th century. I’m sure someone has a copy, but as far as what I found in an extensive search, there is one extant copy, on web.archive.org. By the way, the song is terrible. I couldn’t even listen to it in full. (And the MP3 sounds like it was recorded on a Victrola in 1920 or something.)
Similarly, I heard this really great song when listening to an online radio station. It was so fantastic that I went to buy it right away. But it turns out you can’t. Not on iTunes, not on Amazon, not in FYE. Not on The Pirate Bay, not through Kazaa, not on Demonoid. Not anywhere. A few months later, after searching off and on, I eventually found it. Like Tessie, it seems to exist in only one place on all of the Internet. I purchased a copy from them, and was elated. I was a little weirded out that the place was an online music store in Korea or somewhere, but I was just happy to have my copy. Only later did it occur to me that the place almost certainly did not have the legal right to distribute the song. (I know this because subsequent research on the song has turned up a few posts talking about how it existed on a demo disk of which a few hundred copies were made. In 1998. The disk, although well-received, was a copyright quagmire.)
So I have two extremely rare songs in my collection. Not “hard to find in stores” rare, but critically endangered rare. The Tessie song is arguably extinct in the wild, although I find that a bit hard to believe. My instinct is that I have an obligation to help preserve these rare specimens. The problem, of course, is that I don’t have any legal right to distribute them, although I suspect that Tessie is in the public domain. But it drives me ballistic that I can’t do anything to “help.”