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Why the Record Industry Doesn't Stand a Chance
Newhouse News Service ^ | Aug. 19, 2003 | JAMES LILEKS

Posted on 08/20/2003 12:56:10 PM PDT by new cruelty

Forget Napster. The newest place to steal -- sorry, "share" -- copyrighted materials is Earthstation 5. They claim 22 million downloads of their software, offer digital copies of movies still in the theaters, and boast that no one will be able to shut them down. They may have a point.

They're located in the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank.

You can imagine the discussions in the Recording Industry Association of America's legal office: "You serve them with papers." "No, YOU serve them." (Pause) "OK, we'll send an intern."

Earthstation illustrates the problem the record industry faces: It's a big planet, it's wired together, and it's filled to the gunwales with pirates.

You've heard of Napster? So 2001. Now there's Kazaa. Now there's Grokster, whose corporate location in the West Indies just screams, "Come and get me, copper!" There's Blubster, another music-swapping program provided by a company in Spain. The day there are two servers in Greenland, the second will be devoted to letting 20-somethings in a Vilnius dorm room download Metallica songs.

The recording industry hasn't just lost control of its product; the product itself has lost its reason for being. The CD is as dead as the album, and for the same reason: Most bands have one or two good songs, a couple of so-so numbers and a half-dozen tracks of dreck you'll never hear again. We all know what CDs cost -- you can get a hundred blanks for a sawbuck. So why does the disc cost almost 20 bucks? Well, there's the cover art, the distribution, the advance to the artist, the cost of catering a five-week recording session for a band made up of ultra-vegans who eat only imported Irish loam, and of course the all-important $19.99 PROFIT.

You can't begrudge them a profit, of course. It would be nice if it trickled down to the average recording artist as well, but let's not be silly dreamers here. What really plagues the industry is an antiquated business model that requires putting out 10 tons of overpriced junk in the hopes that 3 ounces will make 11 tons of money.

But no one wants albums anymore. They want songs.

Unfortunately, they want them for free, and that's where the RIAA steps in -- with hobnailed boots. They've threatened file-sharers with huge fines for each download, meaning that kids with 30 gigs of "shared" music could face fines equal to the gross domestic product of sub-Saharan Africa.

The downloaders insist they have the moral high ground; they'll complain about the cost of the product, the unjust contracts musicians sign, the shoddy treatment the industry gave Blind Willie Simon in 1937, etc. They'll sniff that the musicians should give away the product and make their money touring, which is akin to saying restaurants should give away food and make their money selling souvenir forks. They'll craft shaky analogies to libraries -- as if the public library lets you take a book, make a perfect copy, and give it away to 4,982 people.

It's all a justification for the Internet's eternal problem: No one wants to pay for anything unless that something is nekkid women. And even then they'll complain about the price.

So what's the solution? Congressional hearings, of course. That'll fix everything! The creepily named Senate Government Affairs' Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will soon hold hearings on the RIAA's dilemma.

But get this: The subcommittee's chairman thinks the RIAA is being "excessive." And he's a Republican -- Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota solon who admits to having used Napster himself.

Coleman has a point; copyright laws permit fines up to $150K per tune. There's no sense in suing some kid eleventy million bucks for file-swapping songs. On the other hand, no one is going to stop stealing music unless he's scared of being arrested, sent to jail and forced to share a cell with a smelly old hippie who sings Mungo Jerry songs all night.

But there will never be enough arrests or convictions to stop the hard-core downloaders; there will never be a technological fix that someone won't find a way around. Copyright violations will cease when enough people decide they're morally wrong, when the old explanation -- "But Ma, even senators do it!" -- doesn't feel right. When the Internet is governed by reason, decency and conscience.

Never, in other words. See you in Jenin.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: riaa
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1 posted on 08/20/2003 12:56:10 PM PDT by new cruelty
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To: new cruelty
bump
2 posted on 08/20/2003 12:58:52 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: new cruelty
Anyone who's been to Hong Kong knows the meaning of copywrite!
3 posted on 08/20/2003 1:00:05 PM PDT by chas1776
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: new cruelty
The Ten Commandments say, "Thou shalt not steal."

And if thou stealest the products of a man's labor, thou wilt bankrupt him so that he no longer has reason to labor in that field.

Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.
5 posted on 08/20/2003 1:02:33 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: new cruelty
Where do news groups fit into this issue?

Seems to me newsgroups, and I'm thinking of the binary groups here obviously, have been around well before Napster. The sheer volume posted daily to these groups is enormous.

I've not seen yet any mention of news groups in any article... is it small potatoes compared to the P2P apps. Clearly, getting downloads takes a bit more skill than P2P.

6 posted on 08/20/2003 1:03:18 PM PDT by C210N
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To: new cruelty
I dispute the very claim that the recording industry is being 'hurt' by file swapping to start with.

New releases are down 30% from where they were 10 years ago. If you release fewer albums each year, the return from album sales will also go down.

New competition exists for that same $20 of 'disposable income' that did not exist 10 years ago. For $20 I can buy a DVD, a PC Game, Gameboy cartridge, or a CD.

We are in a recession (coming out of it right now, I hope)

And unlike every product on earth, the RIAA doesn't feel that music get's less valuable over time. Why is the Beatles 'White Album' still selling for $29?? Don't tell that it's due to 'advertising costs'.
7 posted on 08/20/2003 1:04:05 PM PDT by Hodar (With Rights, comes Responsibilities. Don't assume one, without assuming the other.)
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To: grayout
Isn't there a new service where you can download a song for 99 cents? ... that seems fair and I believe it's more than a radio station pays when a song is played (anybody know out there?) ...

Pay-for-download music is the future I think and it's fair for everybody ...
8 posted on 08/20/2003 1:04:29 PM PDT by Bobby777
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To: xzins
Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.

So no more Emenem, snoop-dog and 50 cent? I can live with that.

9 posted on 08/20/2003 1:06:09 PM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: xzins
An there's a Spanish phrase that says:

"Ladrón que roba ladrón, tiene cien años de perdón"

Translation: A thief that steals from another thief has 100 years of pardon.

When you steal from thiefs like the RIAA, it's even morally compulsory.
10 posted on 08/20/2003 1:06:12 PM PDT by El Conservador ("No blood for oil!"... Then don't drive, you moron!!!)
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To: new cruelty
There's very little that's worth downloading today.
11 posted on 08/20/2003 1:07:00 PM PDT by curmudgeonII
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To: El Conservador; Orangedog
Again, I'm not talking about the recording industry that you don't like, and forget about the artists that you don't like....just focus on the ones you appreciate.

How can they continue if they don't get paid?
12 posted on 08/20/2003 1:08:52 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
One word...concerts.
13 posted on 08/20/2003 1:10:36 PM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: xzins
One word...concerts.
14 posted on 08/20/2003 1:12:41 PM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: Orangedog
A song becomes known and a group gets known. It develops a following and a bankroll. Some concert promoter is willing to risk money to have them play in XUY town.

Take out step one and two and ask yourself how likely it is that step 3 will take place.
15 posted on 08/20/2003 1:13:58 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
The day the music died.
16 posted on 08/20/2003 1:14:30 PM PDT by gathersnomoss
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To: Orangedog
If it's one word....why'd you say it twice? :>)
17 posted on 08/20/2003 1:14:54 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: new cruelty
But no one wants albums anymore. They want songs.

Bingo. iTunes gets that concept. Plus it frees up the artist to concentrate on those 2-3 songs that people actually listen to.

They'll sniff that the musicians should give away the product and make their money touring, which is akin to saying restaurants should give away food and make their money selling souvenir forks.

LOL!
18 posted on 08/20/2003 1:14:55 PM PDT by lelio
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To: Hodar
Similarly, I still don't understand why the "arr-teests"
benefit everytime the "medium" changes. I purchased
"The White Album" (and many other titles) in vinyl, 8-track,
cassette, and CD. All of those "production costs" are not
repeated everytime the medium changes.
19 posted on 08/20/2003 1:15:39 PM PDT by Hanging Chad
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To: gathersnomoss
exactly.

a few get the point.
20 posted on 08/20/2003 1:15:44 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.

After all, there was no music before the RIAA.

21 posted on 08/20/2003 1:16:21 PM PDT by Petronski (I'm not always cranky.)
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To: xzins
Take out step one and two and ask yourself how likely it is that step 3 will take place.

Step 3 will more likely take place as:
a) the band is more hungry to tour as that's how they get their money
b) they can charge more for a ticket as the concert goers didn't spend $15 on the CD
c) more people will hear the song as its being actively traded

People don't go to concerts as they look at album sales and say "once it reaches 1M in sales I'm so there"
Now an argument can be made that since the band / label didn't get the money from the CD they're not in a position to fund an expensive tour.

The way I see it the world's going to move towards iTunes and the freely downloadable music by artists that are looking to break into the business.
22 posted on 08/20/2003 1:19:51 PM PDT by lelio
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To: xzins
Music is already dead.

Nothing decent has been written since Rakhmanonov died in 1943, although a lot of 'people' do seem to like 'Kill the Pigs' by some sad rap group.

23 posted on 08/20/2003 1:20:38 PM PDT by Voltage
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To: new cruelty
Does anybody 'know someone' who has used this?
24 posted on 08/20/2003 1:21:56 PM PDT by StriperSniper (Make South Korea an island)
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To: Petronski
Pirating music means that they get ZERO money for their efforts.

You can't live on love for long. They'll probably work at UPS, raise kids, and play locally. Because they'll never get nationally known.
25 posted on 08/20/2003 1:22:17 PM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
Music can’t be killed but the companies can.

...And that is a good thing!


We kill the music industry, and we wipe out a HUGE contributor to the socialist democrats in this country. We also wipe out a huge negative influence on popular culture. We minimize people like Madonna, Sheryl crow, etc by wiping out the music industry. After that is accomplished we can wipe the floor with the movie industry. This would be a good thing for the same reasons.

The left continues its stranglehold on the popular culture because of the media. So we either control the media or we decimate it, and thus defund the socialists.

What’s more important, the constitution or Star Wars part 6 that’s really part 3?
26 posted on 08/20/2003 1:23:43 PM PDT by myself6
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To: grayout
Economic warfare by those who act as terrorists may have "further" sealed their fate. Image how betrayed the leftisits and liberal newsrooms across the Country (including Hollywood) after their complete sellout to support any anti-American Socialist cause.... And now they attack America's Media:)

:) - just can't quit smiling about this:)

27 posted on 08/20/2003 1:24:06 PM PDT by Jumper
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To: xzins
Pirating music means that they get ZERO money for their efforts.

Because income from recordings is the only income they receive, right?

28 posted on 08/20/2003 1:24:10 PM PDT by Petronski (I'm not always cranky.)
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To: new cruelty
Oh no! Save the music! There woulda been no Mozart without the RIAA. Bach, Beethoven? Fogettaboutit! Save the whales, save the RIAA!

(Save the propagandists who persuade the gullible sheep that downloading a bunch of zero and one bits is "theft"!)

29 posted on 08/20/2003 1:25:33 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Go ahead, make my day and re-state the obvious! Again!)
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To: xzins
Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.

The success of Apple Music Store proves that consumers who download are primarily motivated by convenience, not theft. Apple's $1 somgs are "outselling" those free amateur rips. "Free" music bears a high price in the number of fake and virus-filled files distributed by P2P apps that cram your system with spyware.

30 posted on 08/20/2003 1:25:46 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: new cruelty
I wish I could record a days work and then sell it over and over again whenever someone needs a job done.

Now those who sing for a living will not be able to do it either.

I console myself with the knowledge that the more money artists make, the worse their art becomes.

Now maybe we'll start to see some good music for a change.
31 posted on 08/20/2003 1:28:27 PM PDT by Age of Reason
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To: Petronski

Ludwig sez "If it wasn't for the RIAA, I never would have become a world-renowned composer!"

32 posted on 08/20/2003 1:29:24 PM PDT by general_re (A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.)
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To: general_re
If it wasn't for royal patronage (much more brutal than the RIAA could ever hope to be) Mozart WOULDN'T have become a world-renowned composer.
33 posted on 08/20/2003 1:31:50 PM PDT by discostu (just a tuna sandwich from another catering service)
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To: discostu
Even Michelangelo had a day job. What can I say? Lots of rich and vain people out there who sponsor other art forms these days - why not music?
34 posted on 08/20/2003 1:36:57 PM PDT by general_re (A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.)
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To: new cruelty
I think the internet will give the world a choice. Either

a) We can have a 'virtual world' and put anything we want out there online. or

b) We can have realistically enforceable intellectual property rights.

I wouldn't be shocked if the legal community were to basically surrender in the attempt to enforce intellectual property because of the legal difficulties in enforcing what travels over the internet.

Very few countries are able to completely control what goes online. Ours will never be either unless we completely changed what we defined as property or what we defined as speech. One or the other will eventually have to be limited.
35 posted on 08/20/2003 1:38:10 PM PDT by .cnI redruM (The Problem With Socialism Is That You Eventually Run Out Of Other People's Money - Lady Thatcher)
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To: Petronski
I thought Al Gore invented music.
36 posted on 08/20/2003 1:42:22 PM PDT by indianaconservative
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To: general_re
That what the record companies are. They took it out of the hands of government and put it in the hands of corporations. Same method new name.
37 posted on 08/20/2003 1:42:29 PM PDT by discostu (just a tuna sandwich from another catering service)
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To: new cruelty
Just desserts, the cat says! Greedy RIAA killed the product containing the basic unit of value in popular music, yes I mean the single, the customers find other ways to obtain it. Duh, Rock Around the Clock (or My Way for you Bloated Elvis fans) is not a double album!
38 posted on 08/20/2003 1:43:20 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Go ahead, make my day and re-state the obvious! Again!)
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To: new cruelty
How about the fact that it's an industry. It has nothing to do with music, it's a manufactured product.
39 posted on 08/20/2003 1:45:58 PM PDT by Ed Straker
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To: xzins
Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.

There was music long before the technology to record existed, so I seriously doubt it.

40 posted on 08/20/2003 1:46:20 PM PDT by Snuffington
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To: discostu
except the companies can't come and lock you up!
41 posted on 08/20/2003 1:46:56 PM PDT by waverna (Life is short; Remember Death)
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To: discostu
Yeah, but we're past all that now, or we will be soon. Not quite as much business as there used to be for the whale-oil people these days - what a shame they didn't think to run to Congress and buy some laws to guarantee their continued dominance of the fuel business ;)
42 posted on 08/20/2003 1:47:03 PM PDT by general_re (A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.)
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To: waverna
Shhh, don't give them any ideas.
43 posted on 08/20/2003 1:48:21 PM PDT by discostu (just a tuna sandwich from another catering service)
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To: xzins
Just this week I downloaded a copyrighted recording that I couldn't find in 4 record stores I visited last weekend (I ain't lying!) and then, if I had found it, I would have had to pay around $15 for an entire album of crap. I burned it on a CD and sent it to a friend overseas. That makes me a thief, doesn't it? Is Reverend Jim Bakker still taking confessions?
44 posted on 08/20/2003 1:51:53 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Go ahead, make my day and re-state the obvious! Again!)
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To: discostu
If it wasn't for royal patronage (much more brutal than the RIAA could ever hope to be) Mozart WOULDN'T have become a world-renowned composer.

Hmmmm. Good. Finally something for the National Endowment For the Arts to do.

45 posted on 08/20/2003 1:52:10 PM PDT by pepsi_junkie
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To: general_re
We'll see, I'm not buying that some massive revolution is coming. This thing looks to me like the new economy all over again. A lot of smoke and mirrors but in the end I think the record industry will remain basically the same. I have no problem with the RIAA going after copyright violators, I have problems with some of the changes in copyright law they push for, but at it's base I think the concept of copyright is good and deserves protection (from both sides).

IMHO the biggest change that will (and already is with iTunes) come out of this is the rebirth of the single. The CD boom really killed the single and the CD-single always sucked and nobody really likes them, but apparently the market never disappeared only the way to satisfy the market. iTunes seems to be the solution to that, The Stones seem to think so, you can criticize the Stones for a lot musically but never doubt their ability to make a buck.
46 posted on 08/20/2003 1:52:14 PM PDT by discostu (just a tuna sandwich from another catering service)
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To: pepsi_junkie
Ugh, what a poorly run organization. I do think the government should support the arts, if for no other reason than the history of governments that stop supporting the arts tends to be pretty bad. But the way the NEA does things is so stupid.
47 posted on 08/20/2003 1:53:48 PM PDT by discostu (just a tuna sandwich from another catering service)
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To: xzins
It may kill recorded music. More accurately, it will kill the current system of providing recorded music. Is that good, or bad? Recorded music killed live music. Was music better, or worse, when it was delivered live? Unlike the Vth, which protects real property, the patent and copyright clause provides only temporary protection for the purpose of expanding the number of works in the public domain. It is anti-Constitutional to protect works in perpetuity, or to otherwise thwart the process of adding to the public domain. If current laws are a perversion of that intent, they are neither legitimate nor are they likely to actually meet the stated goals of the patent and copyright clause. In this case, the modern notion that music == recorded music, that intellectual property == real property, and that ownership should be perpetual (but not taxed like real property) is all very foriegn to original intent. Saying that music downloads are like theft of a physical object is, in that context, dubious.
48 posted on 08/20/2003 1:53:52 PM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: new cruelty
There are a million and one ways for people to share music. p2p apps are only part of it. there are now 20 and 40 gig mp3 players on the market now. The hard drives will only get bigger. You can fit about 10 albums of high quality mp3s on one gig.

If they shut down the p2p apps, people will simply 'share' music via mp3 players and other portable electronic devices, and the internet never needs to enter the picture. Private, local wireless networks are also another potential avenue for file-sharing.

I don't know what will happen to the music industry, or any industry based on selling intellectual property -- books, software, movies, etc. Whether or not you think it's stealing is really not an issue. Technology may very well make these industries obsolete.

People made music before the phenomenon of mega-hit bands who could generate billions of dollars in sales came into existence. There are bands with small, devoted followings who don't make much money. Thousands of them, in fact. And lots of them produce good music.

I do buy the cds of bands I like. I've spent more money on CDs in the last two years than in the five years prior to that. I've also greatly expanded my musical tastes by discovering new music via file-sharing. Maybe I'm just a relic of a fast-dying age, but I do like to own CDs of my favorite bands... this has translated into several hundreds of dollars in music purchases over the last 12 months.
49 posted on 08/20/2003 1:59:11 PM PDT by tullycraft
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To: xzins
xzins wrote:

Recording theft will kill music, not just music companies.

***************************************************

Sorry, FRiend, I can't agree.

People will sing no matter what.
And play, and dance and stomp their feet and clap their hands simply for the joy of it if for nothing else.

Even people like me, and I can't carry a tune if it comes in a bucket! LOL!

It's how we're made.

Tia

50 posted on 08/20/2003 2:02:40 PM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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