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October 02, 2008

Muxtape is dead, long live Muxtape

This is a somewhat left-field post for this blog but the rise and fall of Muxtape caught my attention (primarily as a user of the service) and the story of what went on behind the scenes makes for an interesting read.

Firstly, let me say that I categorically do not condone music (or any other kind of digital) piracy - just ask my kids! But Muxtape was never about piracy IMHO. It was about sharing the joy of music with friends. A digital equivalent of what I and millions of others have done since god knows when - the borrowing of the cassette tape. There is a fair use issue here - by which I mean a real-world sense of fair use, not some piece of legal jargon.

The reaction of the RIAA is predictable in its shortsightedness and narrow-mindedness. I say, "shame on them".

Muxtape is set to rise from the ashes in a new form, supporting new and upcoming bands, but I strongly doubt it'll have that same buzz about it as the original :-(. There will be another Muxtape at some point... it'll take a different form of course. And still others will come later. It's the inevitability about all this that makes the RIAA position so ridiculous, especially when they don't even appear to be operating in sync with their sponsors (at least according to this story).

Are there themes here that are relevant to the more usual topics for this blog - repositories, digital libraries, e-learning, e-research identity management, virtual worlds and so on? Innovation nearly always comes from individuals but sometimes the entrenched might of the establishment is too hard to overcome? Treating threats as opportunities isn't obvious to everyone, particularly those too close to the action? Yes, I think there are valuable lessons here.

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