15th March 2001

Lloyd Kaufman vs. Ted Nugent

posted in `Roids |

The following was written in response to a letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal by Ted Nugent in which the singer complained that Napster is “brain-dead and un-American”.

March 15, 2001

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281

Dear Editor:

It seems that when not shooting marmots, Ted Nugent enjoys posturing himself like some kind of Ayn Randian philosopher. In my opinion, the Tuesday March 13th essay by Mr. Nugent, presented an unfair view of Napster. The file-sharing computer program that allows people to trade music online has been viciously accused and persecuted as being a scourge for the recoding industry. The truth is that this new technology delivered the Internet’s promise of parity and gave garage bands a chance to release their music to a closed industry. Metallica used to be of this ilk but has since turned to suing their fans that use Napster.

Artists that are campaigning for Napster’s elimination, such as Dr. Dre and Ted Nugent, should realize they are acting as a mouthpiece for the media cartel’s scheme. The copious lawsuits are part of a bully-boy, modus operandi of the media cartel, consistent with their historic method whenever faced with new technologies: to slow down or interfere with progress in order to pre-empt and take over these technologies. In the 1980’s when video first appeared on the scene there was a lot of squawking from the office of Jack Valenti, President and CEO of the MPAA, that it would invade copyright and destroy the movie industry. When the dust settled, mom & pop video stores (that actually carried a real variety of films) were put out of business by Viacom and Blockbuster, whose ideas of a foreign language film feature Gwyneth Paltrow putting on a fake English accent. Clearly the same ends are in the works for Napster, which is why the conglomerate Bertelsmann has bought a piece.

If art is being stolen, its captors are the media cartel that is denying the public any kind of variety (which is supposed to be the very principal of Capitalism that Mr. Nugent extols). Viacom’s Paramount Pictures produces junk like Mission Impossible 2, then reviews it on networks owned by Viacom, plays it in 2000 cartel-controlled theaters, and stock their Blockbuster video stores with their bad movies. And voila, the only thing someone in Middle America can see is MI2. It’s the same situation in the music industry, so if you’re an emerging artist it might just be in your best interest to support anything that is a thorn in the conglomerate derrière. Ask my friends over at independent Go-Kart Records about how much attention they get from the corporate mass media.

If true market forces were allowed to prevail then Napster would survive and, like radio stations, eventually pay royalties on copyrights to an organization like ASCAP or BMI. That’s why independent artists, such as I, support Napster. It could be a virtual free-market mall for artists selected only by the grace of music fans and their preferences, instead of the media cartel’s imposition.

Art is meant to be enjoyed by the people. It is an expression of the culture and is most exciting when it has a collective influence. Now I’m not saying that artists should work for free (and they don’t!) According to a recent survey in the Wall Street Journal, 60% of Napster samplers bought the music they downloaded. Napster may have actually been good for the recording industry!

Yet now it looks as if Napster is going to descend towards the lowest common denominator in the manner of FM radio stations like Z-100. Very soon it will be in the hands of the media conglomerates and we’ll all be forced to endure the caterwauling of Ted Nugent and Metallica. Be warned.

Very Truly,

Lloyd Kaufman
President, Troma Entertainment, Inc.

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