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SCOUR’S FORMER VP PUTS IN
HIS TWO CENTS

Santamaria Says, "Hey, I Don’t Work
There Anymore"

When Scour.com laid off 52 employees at the end of last week (hitsdailydouble, 9/1), Former Vice President of Business Development, Music Initiatives Ray Santamaria was one of them. A firm believer in the technology that made both his former site and Napster the targets of lawsuits, Santamaria posted his exit comments on the online geek fest known as the Pho List. Far from walking out of the door with a pocket full of sour grapes, Santamaria exited with optimism, glad for the time he spent with Scour and hopeful for the future.

With his permission, we reprint the contents of his open letter to the Pho community.

The following opinion is not necessarily endorsed by Scour because, hey, I don't work there anymore.

I've been a lurker here for quite some time. I've enjoyed the wit, the intellect, and the occasional pretension and mean spirit. I thank you all for the guaranteed good time. I usually like to sit back and listen, but these are important times...

I was fortunate enough to have sat across from Sen. Orrin Hatch, along side Scour's president [Dan Rodrigues] and head counsel, to discuss the current state of music online and Scour's willingness to cooperate with the entertainment industry on profitable business alternatives.

The days prior to this meeting we had sat down with the corporate officers of three of the major record groups. There was a sense of productivity in these meetings, even if they were just exploratory. The Senator echoed our hope for voluntary solutions to the current problems. An hour after leaving the Senator's office our hope for cooperation was killed by the news that we had just been sued by 27 plaintiffs.

Ouch.

Guys! We could have saved those travel expenses for a rainy day! Maybe today.

Hit with yet another obstacle, Scour will not throw in the towel. Scour is not out of the game. In fact, the recent layoffs were the only solution to keep the company going in order to survive the upcoming legal roller coaster.

The first week of October could very well be the week that hints at the future of digital information. The investment community knows this. The entertainment industry knows this. Unfortunately, Scour did not have the luxury of playing the waiting game with a complete staff, a staff of top-notch senior executives, producers and engineers that built the largest, most compelling connected file exchange on the Web. (Last I checked, 104,000 users and 27 terabytes of information shared.) Now there is a small skeleton staff that keeps it running and continues to move toward their day in court. And, believe me, they intend to see that day.

These are trying, exciting times for all of us, with a lot more at stake than just Scour. The future of digital information is in question and the companies with grand visions and the staffs to make it happen are under fire. It does not take an MBA to devise a number of profitable business models around file-exchange technology.

Scour and Napster, both capable and willing, find themselves in the unfortunate position of being handcuffed. To the detriment of all involved, the willingness to build a cooperative business doesn't seem to outweigh the possibility of eliminating competitive, compelling experiences on the Internet.

I would like to say what many of you already know: The elimination of Scour and Napster does not benefit anyone. Not the entertainment industry, not technology and, most importantly, not the consumer. Twenty million-plus users of file exchanges are not pirates. These are millions of loyal music fans who found a compelling music consumption experience. Nor is it fair to categorize this as a black market.

We are not talking about right-wing evangelism here. We're talking about progress. We're talking about a bright future for both industries.

But I'm not writing to resurrect any debates over the divide between the traditional entertainment industry and technology, nor the ethics of technology. I think we've all been hit over the head with that stick too many times. I'll let actions and events speak for themselves.

I really just want to share my hope, as dramatic as that may sound. I wish all involved the best of luck, and I remain hopeful that the events of early October will inspire willingness to exploit the potential of technology.

But, as Dennis Miller says, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...

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ARE COMING
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Roasting.
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Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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