November 3, 2003

Fast, Cheap, And Out of Control
As president of a record label that recently had the No. 1 most frequently illegally downloaded song in the nation (“Stacy’s Mom,” by Fountains of Wayne), I feel obligated to take issue with Michael Wolff’s “Grin and Share It” [“This Media Life,” October 13]. Mr. Wolff suggests that peer-to-peer exchange of copyrighted music is merely somebody doing the record industry’s job “cheaper and better.” In fact, it is more akin to creating carbon copies of Gucci bags and selling them for less than the originals—without having to bear the costs of design and marketing. Pirates who don’t pay royalties and don’t have to worry about recouping an initial investment can always undersell legitimate retailers—because they’re stealing. And stealing, despite Mr. Wolff’s attempt to portray it as “potentially very good news,” is not merely illegal; it’s also ethically indefensible.
—Steve Greenberg, President and CEO, S-Curve Records, Manhattan

Copyrights and Wrongs
There are many problems with Michael Wolff’s line of reasoning—not least that he apparently believes that “blockbusters” are somehow less deserving of concern than “less commercial work.” It is also obvious that Mr. Wolff has no use for the concept of intellectual property. He overlooks the fact that the laws protecting the music industry’s copyrights are the same ones safeguarding all intellectual property. Our copyright system incentivizes entertainment companies to invest in the riskiest vehicle of all: art.
—Cary Sherman, President, Recording Industry Association of America, Washington, D.C.

Mutual Admiration
I was thrilled to see that hilary Swank and I covet the same painting by Ed Ruscha [“House Tour 2003: Swank Joint,” by Wendy Goodman, October 13]. Scratches on the Film is in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Alas, the closest I have gotten to ownership is a postcard and semiannual visits to my sister and father in nearby Greensboro.
—Beth Z. Lorandos, East Amherst, N.Y.

A Surgeon’s Skill
Thank you for your acknowledgment of Daniel C. Baker as a top plastic surgeon [“Beauty’s Best,” by Beth Landman Keil, October 6]. Seventeen months ago, after I underwent surgery for a deep basal-cell carcinoma, Dr. Baker restored what was left of my nose. No one can underestimate the horror of unwrapping one’s bandages and seeing a hole where a piece of one’s face was a few days before. But thanks to Dr. Baker, my appearance was presentable ten days later.
—Craig German, Westbury, N.Y.

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November 3, 2003