Iraq, that demented slaughterhouse that has Congressman Charlie Rangel's plan to reinstate the draft going down in flames, may well be a war that's winding down. In the words of Tom Friedman, we're looking at either 10 more weeks or 10 more years in Baghdad.
But back in Hollywood, another war is heating up: It's record labels versus websites, Version. 2.0!
For those of you confused as to why Universal Music Group -- the world's largest record company -- decided to go to war with the world's most popular website, MySpace -- here's a quick pre-Thanksgiving primer on the run-up to the conflict.
1) On Friday, Universal sues MySpace, claiming it tacitly and illegally exhorts members to share music and music videos on the site without permission.
2) Problem for MySpace: News Corp's president Peter Chernin has already staked out the moral high ground as a defender of digital copyright law, having become known as father of "the broadcast flag" -- essentially, an itty-bitty ID embedded in an online piece of audio or video that says whether it's OK for it to be "shared" with millions of "friends."
3) Complicating matters for Universal, social networking sites like MySpace and shared video websites like YouTube also appear to be helping the record business, breaking new acts and serving as virtual A&R divisions even as they threaten to erode sales by illegal file sharing.
As the Sunday Times of London noted recently, the sleeper online hit, "Say It's Possible," has garnered nearly a million downloads for a previously unknown singer named Terra Naomi.
"If Arctic Monkeys' online army narrowed the gap between artist and fan, Say It's Possible has snapped it shut. Gone are the days when kids scrawled their favorite singers' names on their school bag, or joined a fan club for a few signed photos and a badge. Naomi's fans nestle next to her online, sitting like her, singing her words and strumming a guitar just as she showed them -- after hundreds of requests, she posted a video of her fret-work. Even her fans have fans."
4) Maybe MySpace would have given the labels a reason not to sue had it not formed MySpace Records, which hopes to capitalize on the undisiscoverd bands it aggregates: \nhttps://news.com.com/MySpace