Do you share your iTunes?
One of the arguments in the P2P debate is whether the public has a first amendment interest in its music. Is it possible that the music we buy and share is a form of speech? While I have no doubt that sharing music with your friends is a form of expression, this argument was roundly dismissed by my peers in my Cyberlaw class (courts don't seem to buy it either). Copying is infringement. End of story.
This school year I've been fascinated by how folks share their iTunes on the school wireless network. Some folks share their entire libraries (you can tell by the inclusion of MP3 files of lectures, etc.), while other folks have meticulously crafted playlists that change from day to day. One of my friends rarely shares her music, for fear that people who aren't nearly cool enough will begin listening to her music. When she does share, the playlist is often labeled with a command such as, "Listen to Arcade Fire." I myself (when I do share) only share Portland bands. My agenda is to get folks out to see local bands. One person, irate that GetTunes (a hack that enables you download folks' music from the network) has become commonplace, has labeled his or her list "Stop Stealing My Music." One wonders why he or she continues to share. In response, someone else has labeled hers "Everything is Free."
For months now, I've wanted to meet Rockin' because his or her playlist is so cool. I'm also partial to Crepe Paper Hearts because it has the Punk Group.
Which gets me to the point of this post: Georgia Tech has just released a report on how Co-workers sharing iTunes on their company networks form communities within their workplace environments. Turns out, the phenomenon I've been casually observing is actually commonplace even outside the campus environment. People are very meticulous about the messages they send by sharing their music. They also form opinions on others based on their lists. The conclusions in the report not only support the idea that perhaps music is a form of expression for consumers as well as musicians, but that consumers will repurpose technology to suit their needs regardless of what the marketing corporation intends.