Music Piracy

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Arrrggghhhh, I'm A Music Pirate
How do you know you are not a thief? Downloading free music from the internet without permission from the copyright holder constitutes stealing. In the last six years record sales have dropped and illegal downloads have increased significantly. There are two different organizations that are actively participating in the solution to this problem. There are people in the music industry who stand on both sides of the fence. Some say that downloading music without permission is against the law, harmful to the industry and must be stopped, while others believe there is a way to legalize downloads by compensating the copyright holders through indirect payment plans. The Recording Industry Association of America is leading an effort to stop illegal production and distribution of sound recordings through the use of education, enforcement, and litigation. The Electronic Freedom Foundation supports the legalization of shared music over the internet and proposes many solutions to this problem, the strongest of which is voluntary collective licensing. A final solution to this problem is a concept of "free music" to its audience while still getting artists and those involved in recording their music compensated. The internet has made it easy to share music files and illegal file traders have not been receptive to change their ways. Artists can use the marketing power of their "free music" on the internet alone to sell the products that have always compensated them the most, concert tickets and merchandise.

File sharing online has increased significantly in the last few years. According to research conducted by BigChampagne, a company that monitors file-sharing, "at any moment 8.3 million people were online sharing files in June of 2004 – up from 6.8 million in June the year before" (Metz 112). The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that records sales have dropped significantly each year since 2000, which they attribute to the amount of files being illegally downloaded on the internet. Statistics provided by the RIAA show that between 2000-2005 c.d. sales have dropped by 25%. Artists who record their music are protected from the unauthorized duplication, performance, or distribution of their created work by copyright laws. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing programs, software that allows users to transfer files freely over the internet between servers, can break these laws when its users download the material that is copyright protected without permission. Napster was the first major file sharing program of its kind. In 2000 the RIAA successfully shut down the P2P site in court, due to its copyright infringement capabilities. Unfortunately for the music industry this spawned the creation of more P2P programs that were continually harder to keep track of. Something needs to be done about the illegal file sharing that is currently taking place online. Whether a solution is found to prevent it from taking place, or it is legalized with a payment plan to copyright holders one thing is certain, the current process of control is not working (Metz 112) (RIAA Table)(EFF 2).

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the leader in the effort to prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of sound recordings through the use of education, enforcement, and litigation. Through educational campaigns, the recording industry is hoping to educate all citizens of what constitutes legal and illegal sound recording practices. On the RIAA website are links to many sites that focus on the education of internet users on legal downloading practices. While education is important, the largest efforts exercised by the RIAA has been through legal actions carried out against music "pirates", and laws that support the discontinuation of music "piracy". In 2000 it successfully shut down the P2P file server Napster. In 2003 the RIAA began to sue a random selection of the...
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