A New Way To Break The Law: A Report On File Sharing Networks

2118 words - 8 pages

Is it fair for a man in California to have to refinance his home to pay an $11,000 settlement to the recording industry? “I’m giving up and can’t fight this,” said Ross Plank, 36, of Playa Del Ray, California (Bridis 1). The introduction of file-sharing programs and free music downloading has created a new fuss among music lovers and consumers of the strictly protected music industry. “Is it time to face the fact that in today’s world, copyright law is broken? Our current copyright regime makes criminals out of music lovers. Worse, it makes suspected criminals out of all Internet users” (Wentworth 45).With the advent of digital technology in recent years, copyrighted sources that were formerly more secure, are now easily duplicated across the Internet. This introduction of easy-to-access digital music made its mark as a large turning point, having effect on both the consumer, and the marketplace. It is vital that a resolution between the two is met, and advances can be made in the industry. Should we allow the use of free file-sharing applications to become legal because of the change in technology and the open-market structure of the Internet? Or should we abide by the current copyright laws that protect the authenticity and production of media files? Contrary to the fact that there are copyright laws that exist and are being followed, the laws are outdated and irrelevant when related to the issue of music downloading. The music industry looked at the issue in a completely negative way, and failed to consider the technology’s beneficial aspects, while putting the more important matters aside. The technology of file-sharing could be used in a very beneficial way to the music industry.
It all began with the introduction and invention of the MP3 in the digital music scene. “The MP3 compression scheme was based on the work of the Motion Picture Experts Group, an engineering alliance of which MP3’s full name (MPEG Audio Layer-3) contains an acronym, and completed by the Fraunhofer Institut in Germany.” (Hill 4). MP3’s were soon able to be played using programs such as “Winamp”, originally created by producer, Tomislav Uzelac, and later adapted to Windows computers by Justin Frankel (Hill 4).
Next came the creation of the first peer-to-peer file sharing application, entitled “Napster.” Created by a college-attending student named Shawn Fanning, Napster also introduced the first example of a Peer to Peer (P2P) network (Gertler 54). Napster was soon taken to court and filed against for copyright infringement, with the hope that the shutdown of Napster would decrease the amount of users. However, the number of P2P users only increased after the court ruling. The reason for this was because it sparked up the creation of many other P2P file-sharing programs such as Limewire, Kazaa, and Grokster. Kazaa was being pursued the most by record labels, recording industries pressing charges.
“Consider four cases the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)...

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