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Chapter 7
Alternate Arts and Culture

Hear Hear!

By TINA LOLLOCADENKA, Alternate Reality News Service Music Writer

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a method of sound recording that could change the music industry forever.

Known as "neuronal link blockage," the technique involves recording songs with a special vibration that cannot be heard but that makes it impossible for the listener to make the connections in the brain that would allow her to remember the song she has just listened to.

This comes hot on the heels of other recent technologies that changed the music industry forever, including: CDs and DVDs that melted after the first hearing (the "Mission Impossible" effect), and; digital tunes that turned into so much random noise after being played once on iPods and other devices.

"The other technical changes helped achieve the goal of musicians being paid every time somebody listened to a song," Terrence Hardiman, President of Lavontria, the company that perfected the technology, explained, "but they still left the music industry with a flaw in its profit maximizing efforts: consumers could always remember songs they had heard. Hard as it may be to believe, some people were actually deliberately using their memories to avoid having to listen to songs repeatedly, and, thus, to avoid paying recording artists their fair share of money for their work.

"Obviously, neuronal link blockage solves this problem."

Musicians hailed the technological breakthrough. "Do you have any idea how expensive jet fuel is?" asked Lars Ulrich, lead singer of the band Metallica. "I mean, uhh, I do some of my best composing on my private jet, so, this would, uhh, help me with my artistic process. Yeah. That's it. Artistic process. Creativity and shit."

Michael Geist, a vocal opponent of giving corporations too much control over the copyright of their material and destroying what little remains of the creative commons, had a typically caustic response to the new technology. "I give up," he stated. "The recording industry is too powerful. It wins."

"Hee hee hee," Ulrich responded.

"I think there's a bigger picture here that both sides need to keep in mind," Hardiman said. "With copyright law having been extended to a mere 200 years, only eight or 10 generations will benefit from an artist's creative output. Without neuronal link blockage, this may not have been a sufficient incentive for artists to create new work."

"I don't see how giving somebody's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren a financial windfall will make an artist want to create more," Geist retorted, "but, no, forget about it, you're not sucking me back into this argument."

What of the musician who is just starting out or who doesn't play "mainstream" music and, therefore, has yet to develop a following? Who knows? I wanted to interview one for this article, but I didn't know where to find any.

"The marginalization of the smaller artist is typical of a highly restricted copyright regime," Geist commented. "Not that you heard that from me. I've gone fishing!"

Neuronal link blockage has been tested for several years on dogs. The first designs of the test involved the use of a tone that was too high-pitched for humans to hear. Unfortunately, researchers couldn't tell if the dogs didn't respond because link blockage had taken place, or if the researchers had simply forgotten to make the tone.

Clinical tests on human beings have shown that neuronal link blockage has side effects, including: headaches, nausea, bleeding from the ears and an inability to get the song "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I Got Love In My Tummy" out of your head for several days.

"Any new technology comes with risks," Hardiman breezily stated. "When the automobile was first introduced, who could have foreseen that teenagers would use it to drag race each other down the main strip of the city in a game of chicken that would leave one dead and the other wracked by guilt?"

When it was pointed out to him that government copyright policy was too important to be driven by analogies to Rebel Without a Cause, Hardiman said neuronal link blockage had the potential to work in all media. That he totally missed the point seemed lost on him, although, perhaps, there was a bigger point in his response.

It's now up to government regulators to determine whether to allow neuronal link blockage technologies to be used by the public. However, given that when it was discovered that the Mission Impossible effect caused three per cent of DVD consumers to spontaneously combust the government refused to demand a recall of the product, perhaps the best response would be for all consumers to go fishing.

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