Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Digital music piracy, or the unlawful downloading of copyrighted music, has been a controversial topic for more than a decade now. The issue was first brought to attention in 1998 when Shawn Fanning created Napster. Though the MP3 file was originally developed in 1987, Napster represented the first mainstream and user-friendly program to transfer and download these files. Napster, a peer-to-peer (P2P) program, allowed online users to connect with one another and swap copyrighted music, videos, and other files contained on their computers, thus providing a way to get free music online. (157)
Since music artists and record companies were uncompensated when consumers downloaded these music files, the act of downloading "free music" became known as digital music piracy. Market statistics compiled by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) show that worldwide sales of music fell at the turn of the century and P2P networks were immediately blamed for the industry's bad fortunes. (157)
The question and concern on the boundaries of digital music piracy, despite its being in debate since the late 1990’s, has yet to be resolved. The record industry continues to persuade listeners in believing that the recent rise in digital piracy is at the crux of declining music sales and is destroying the music industry, as we know it. The major labels and their retail and technology partners are fighting back, pursuing a wide range of judicial, legislative, technological and commercial strategies designed to get the average consumer to stop taking free music from the Web. (71) Others however, including a large portion of artists, believe that the ability to provide free music is a great way to gain recognition and increase performance attendance. They seem to believe that the only real problem facing the digital music era is the dragging of feet by the major record labels to adapt to the changing... [continues]
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