Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Down With Downloaders

Just because people do it doesn't make it right: First: I don't like the traditional record industry; I think they act like pimps [OK Then, March 3]. I will not be sad to see the current model die.

But free downloaders are full of crap. Not that I would expect a dishonest person to be honest about their dishonesty, rationalization being the key to sanity and all.

A few mix CDs among friends is NOT equivalent to mass anonymous access. The difference between iTunes-style pay systems and Napster is like the difference between having an open relationship with your lover, and pimping your lover. Scale matters. Consent matters.

Garrett Kamps' market argument is amoral. There's a market for sex slaves and kiddie porn, but that doesn't make it right. The market did not set the price of music at zero, assholes did.

Adam Burtch

Musicians deserve money for their work: CAUSE: Music, sharing, communing, "fruitiness." EFFECT: Music on the Internet = $0. So you can no longer make money selling music (as we all know). The digital-gizmo surcharge plan could help, but how large will that pie be, how would it get split up and by whom?

As an independent music producer and engineer, I have firsthand experience toiling with even the smallest indie bands to get their CD released. The costs (materials and labor) rapidly stack up: Studio recording costs, mixing, audio mastering, graphics layout, duplication costs, advertising ... the list goes on.

To recover these costs before a profit could even theoretically be realized already puts a band in the economic realm of the .ORG.

Here's what I suggest:

Downloaders with the "right" to "their" free music content should go to their 40-hour-a-week jobs for no pay. If they think producing music is merely a labor of love, then making coffee for Starbucks or managing Merrill Lynch's portfolios (no matter how high profile) should also be considered its own reward.

Advice to bands:

Stop making CDs. Release vinyl instead and play weddings and bar mitzvahs. You'll be guaranteed a better income.

Randall Rhodes
San Francisco

Jew Miss a Good Thing?

Yeah, you did:It really pains me that Meredith Brody took the time to scour the area for good Jewish delis, but failed to include the only place that actually serves respectable Jewish deli food: East Coast West Deli on Polk Street ["Jew Eat Yet?," Eat, March 3]. Their corned beef is lean yet tasty, their latkes remind me of the Hanukkahs of my youth, and their rugelach is almost as good as my bubbe's.

Any fresser in the Bay Area could have told you that David's is a sham and Moishe's Pippic is just plain gross. And Saul's is (at best) a passable substitute for a true New York deli. Only ECW, however, delivers the goods on the consistent basis that would make my mother proud.

David Sobel

Out of Africa

Meet a reporter who knows the future!:I read Bernice Yeung's "Enslavement in Palo Alto" with a mix of bemusement and shock [Feb. 18]. Not only was it a desperate attempt to find a local angle on a story that national newspapers are doing successfully, the reporter used only one source for her allegations of trafficking: the unchallenged story of a former employee contained in a civil lawsuit.

At my newspaper, such allegations rarely pass the threshold of a story for the simple reason that anyone can charge anyone with anything in a civil lawsuit. When exceptions are made, it requires a very high standard of balance in the story.

That's what I assumed would happen when Ms. Yeung called me for an interview and asked me to help "guide her reporting." I mentioned several reasons why Alice B., the Kenyan housekeeper in question, may have chosen to leave besides the allegations against Ms. Njuguna-Githinji; there's no indication in the story Yeung checked them out. To my knowledge there was no indication Alice B. was unhappy, let alone suffering the uglier allegations made later in the lawsuit -- a lawsuit which, if she wins, increases her chances of staying in the United States and bringing her own child from Kenya. That motivation was quickly dismissed in Ms. Yeung's lengthy storytelling.

I also mentioned that Alice B. was alone for an entire month and chose not to leave. Ms. Yeung takes Alice B.'s answers at face value: that she thought things would be better when Ms. Njuguna-Githinji returned. Even this goes unchallenged. What made her think things would improve when, if she was truly enslaved, she had an opportunity to leave?

I raised question after question in my interview with Ms. Yeung, yet none of my comments or concerns were included. I know it wasn't past her deadline; we had agreed on the interview time.

But I guess I got my answer when Ms. Yeung e-mailed me after the interview saying her point of view "differs from [mine]." Clearly, she started with a bias and, in a nearly 6,000-word article, could find no room for another voice offering balance to a story clearly intent on excoriating Ms. Njuguna-Githinji.

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