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Webpage Content: What Are the Pros and Cons of Allowing File Sharing of Mp3s to Be Legal?

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Adam Schaub

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April 2, 2004

Webpage Content: What are the pros and cons of allowing file sharing of MP3s to be legal?

An estimated 70 million people have reportedly engaged in online file sharing, most of it illegal. Illegal downloading mostly of music and some of movies or programs, took off in the late 1990's with the file-sharing programs like Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus, Audiogalaxy, and more. Many of these programs have started charging money for downloads like Napster, have been shut down by the RIAA like Audiogalaxy, or are still downloading illegally like Kazaa. It is almost impossible though to find a new song on Kazaa to download that hasn't been tampered with to make a loud screeching sound when you play it.

Peer-to-peer file sharing on such programs such as Kazaa has reached a crossroads and has the potential to take off as an increasingly popular method of sharing information. Or it could diminish under its own controversy as the RIAA, lawyers, and politicians try to negotiate the grounds of copyright protections and the legality of certain file sharing networks.

File sharing technology is growing in creative ways that could allow an almost limitless ability to download and manipulate any kind of electronic content like music, movies, books, and programs and then redistribute it to the world. However this technology is being threatened by the recording industry and artists efforts to put a stop to illegal file-sharing networks and the people who engage in file sharing. The RIAA has started a war by suing the file-sharing programs and people. The people being sued range from teenagers to grandparents and they are being sued for ridiculous amounts of money.

PROS: Most artists' profits from CD sales are only a mere portion of their total revenue. Artists make most of their money off of concerts and merchandise. File sharing helps a lot of unknown bands become known, because people hear about more bands from other people online and the internet. When people download they recognize what bands they like and don't like, resulting in the purchases of CDs that are liked by the public. The music industry rips off the consumer as it costs the music industry only $1.20 to make one CD and they turn around and sell it to the consumer for between $16 and $20. The price for CD making has declined in recent years and prices have gone up. So this so called "piracy" could actually be doing more good then bad for lesser known bands and even the top bands. Radio and TV only covers a small portion of the music world so there has to be another medium for people to find out about bands that aren't Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears. File-sharing allows people a chance to get to listen to a wider variety of music instead of listening to what MTV and the record companies want you to listen to. When radio came out the record companies thought that all the bands would go bankrupt due to lack of sales when in fact the result was mores sales for the bands increasing profits for both the bands and the recording industry. File sharing also allows people to get different versions of songs not released by the artists which could further increase the love for the band or artist by the fan. Another big business growing in the world is MP3 players and that industry would fall off the face of the world and result in a lot of job losses of nobody could download MP3s. Compact discs replaced tapes and soon CDs will be replaced and that is where the MP3 and MP3 players come in. The RIAA needs to realize this is the new technology that is taking over and they need to figure out a way handle it without suing everyone under the sun. This technology is not leaving so people to embrace it and make it right for the consumers, recording industry, and artists.

CONS: Compact-disc burning and music downloading contributed to a 9 percent decline in CD shipments and a 6.8 percent slide in sales last year as reported by the Recording Industry Association of America. Shipments and sales slid more than 10



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