Sunday, June 21, 2009

File Sharing

Have you ever taped music off your favorite radio station? That's the old way you would do if you can't afford the albums. Today people are doing a similar thing, downloading music from the Internet. Downloading music off the Internet is such a convenient way to get your music. It is such a great opportunity for those who are willing to takes their chances, and chances are, they would not get sued by the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America). I, as a peer who does share and download files off the Internet, believe that file-sharing should be legal even if it seems that the majority is of those against it. File-sharing is a technology that is just a step ahead and industries as of the RIAA should start to deal with it.

File-sharers use softwares called P2P (Peer to Peer) networks. These networks (programs) are free to download from the Internet and you donТt need to sign up or join in to use it. Popular networks are Kazaa, WinMX , Limewire, Morpheus, Grokster and many more. Peers would then set up these P2P programs to share whatever files they want to share. Most would start out with nothing. They would have a good chance to find the kind of music they are interested in. Not only peers can download music, they could download pictures, movies, softwares and any other kind of computer files. When peers download, they don't all download from one place. Millions of peers around the world are connected and they download files off each other's computer. Peers who choose not to share their files may have their rights taken to download from other people who share. It makes sense because if peers arenТt sharing, there would be no downloads. For peers, it gets better and better the more they use it, they get happy to know that technology had really advanced.

If you have bought a music album recently, or even a software for your computer, you might regret how much you paid for it later. If you have downloaded a file using a P2P program, it gets addicting. You don't have to drive to the store; just press a few buttons and then you get what you want. Sometimes in the stores, they don't even have what you want. If you were to find rare music files like the remix of Overture, bootlegs of Nirvana, or promos (promotion music) from DJ's, you could get it in the P2P networks. If you like other foreign music, you would also have good chances looking for it because peers all around the world is sharing and downloading. Downloading files is free, but many people are confused that it would be stealing. The RIAA had announced that it is stealing, but people won't stop. Peers know that P2P programs still exist and they keep on trading, sharing and downloading.

"Music Industry Officials estimate that they have lost more than $300 million worth of CD sales due to free Internet trading". For this, they say trading MP3's (music files) is stealing. If you had remembered the notorious Napster in the year 2000, it was the one P2P network that got other P2P networks started. The RIAA had sued the Napster Network, won, and shut it down. Napster was only one of a kind before, now there are more P2P networks than there are music industries. "The RIAA earlier this year tried to get the networks shut down in court, but a federal judge in April ruled that the services are legal. It plans instead to sue hundreds of individual file sharers."

Before Napster was shut down, people were enjoying the fact that they are exposed to music that was new to them. Artist like Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit who supports file-sharing networks says, "We happen to be of the school of thoughts that it is nice to have more fans, not less." Hank Barry who used to own Napster said, "Napster is helping and not hurting the record industries and artists. More access to music leads to more interest in music and more music sales." The RIAA, who doesn't seem to believe in that, sued 261 file sharers recently. They are targeting those who share substantial amount of MP3's. The rate of people downloading had dropped a little since the RIAA had sued those 261 peers, but then, not even good enough to begin ending it. The RIAA is scared, they canТt handle it yet, having copyrights don't even scare all of the file-sharers.

According to a survey released in July by the American and Internet Life Project, "among the 35 million adults who its survey indicated download music, 23 million say they do not much care about the copyright on the files they copy onto their computers. Among the 26 million who make files available for others to copy, 17 million said they did not care much about whether they were copyrighted." Peers and those who own P2P networks are saying that they don't make money off of the copyrighted music, they are sharing them. But there is another way people could help music artists with their profit and still get their music conveniently.

If you heard of I-Tunes, it is a network that sells music to people and which is convenient as downloading. Mostly each song would cost 99 cents to download. Napster, which was reopen in October 29, is doing what I-Tunes is doing. But who would download from them if downloading free from P2P networks is still around? Not many, because you can only download music using I-Tunes or Napster. Files called piracy such as movies, softwares and other computer files can't be downloaded. Plus, if you were to use the legitimate I-tunes or Napster today, you won't be able to find the rare music. Hopefully they should advance sooner or later. But should the money that I-tunes or Napster make be shared to the RIAA or straight to the music artists? The RIAA shouldn't even be the main enemy to P2P networks. It's the music artists' choices to share their music anyway they want to the world. The RIAA is making their profit with the money that people spend on music albums. They get more than the artists themselves. Therefore the RIAA should find another way of making their profit instead of wasting their time suing peers who share music.

To this day, the RIAA and some P2P networks are trying to negotiate with what music technology is going to be like in the future. File sharing was yet a step ahead in technology. No peers had been sued for sharing piracy (movies, softwares, etc.) yet. P2P networks do expose us to music we had not heard. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to thrive in the new free-copy environment. The two main ones are focusing on those things that are not easily copy able like live concerts, big-screen experiences, deluxe album packaging or secondly reducing prices so that it makes more sense to pay than to pirate and download. You should remember what Spiderman's Uncle Ben told him, "With great strengths, comes great responsibility." To me, file-sharing is a good technological tool but should be used responsibly. It's more likely to be used in the future, that's why I'm with it.

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