As of about 6:15 PM (Pacific), I have removed the Disciple mp3s from my web-site after receiving the following e-mail from the band's web master:
I want to say first and foremost that I do absolutely respect the band's right to request that I not distribute their mp3s, provided it is truly the band's request, and not a record label or other similarly large and evil corporation working against their will. Since Disciple is currently unsigned, this is clearly not the case. As of the time of this writing the Disciple's web-site is apparently being redesigned and the archives of the messages they have sent out to their mailing list are not available. However, I do remember that what the message I took to authorize distribution of mp3s actually spoke of is e-mailing them to friends, rather than posting them on web-sites and, additionally, might only have referred to the radio single mp3s the band had released to mp3.com.
Having said all of that, I do need to take issue with a few of the things that were said. First, my posting of the m3s in no way discouraged anyone from visiting Disciple's web-site. In fact, you will all remember that I linked to their page and actually encouraged others to visit it and buy their CD. Secondly, the downloading of these mp3s cannot possibly constitute stealing. This is precluded by the definition of the word.
Webster's Revised Unabridged (1918) gives the following definition for "steal", when used as a transitive verb: "To take and carry away, feloniously; to take without right or leave, and with intent to keep wrongfully; as, to steal the personal goods of another." The idea here is of actually picking up a physical object and carrying it away. However, clearly this is not the modern English usage of this word, as we often speak of stealing ideas and so forth. Still, I think that an important idea here is of taking something belonging to someone else in such a manner that it deprives that person of access to the stolen property. Clearly this did not happen as, even after someone downloaded the mp3, Disciple was still in possession of the song.
An important point is that since this is a question of morality among Christians (I don't know for certain about my readers - if there are any - or the webmaster, but the members of the band and I are Christians and I suspect they would hire a Christian webmaster) the relevant word is not in fact the English "steal", but the Hebrew "ganab", the word used in the infamous "Thou shalt not steal" command of Exodus 20:15. According to Strong's and the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius lexicon at crosswalk.com this word also implies physically picking something up and carrying it away, in such a fashion that it deprives the original owner of this piece of property. In short, the meaning of the word steal has been altered by the record cartel much as they and the other intellectual property fascists have altered the meaning of the word "piracy" (the Free Software Foundation has something to say about that).
Semantics is often a weapon employed in political struggles, as can be clearly seen in the abortion debate, where the two sides refer to themselves as "pro-life" and "pro-choice", rather than merely being called what they are: "anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion", respectively. This is known in logic as the fallacy of emotional language. Terms like "stealing" and "piracy" cause an emotional reaction which more accurate terms such as "unauthorized transfer of information" do not. Be careful not to be taken in by this. I have obeyed this request not because I wish to discourage stealing, but for two reasons unrelated to this.
The first, and most important, is that I have the utmost respect for the band Disciple and do not wish to refuse any request made by them or anyone acting on their behalf. The second is that it is the moral duty of a Christian to obey the government as much as possible (i.e. as long as they don't contradict any authority higher than themselves). This responsibility is clearly seen in Romans 13 and also Hebrews 13:17.
At any rate, if you still want Disciple mp3s, you can check them out at their mp3.com site.Posted by Kenny at April 5, 2003 12:47 AM
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