he issue of copyright
violations is a controversial topic. On one side, the recording industry claims
that file sharing is cutting into their profits and violating copyrights of the
artists. On the other side, are millions of people who are sharing files
everyday. These individuals believe that the recording industry has refused to
change with the evolving technology and some believe that the cost of music CDs
are too expensive.
Right now the legal dispute surrounding file sharing is a big
problem for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA). According to an article on the CBS news
website titled, "Ruling A Blow to Online Music Pirates", about three million
people were connected on the Kazaa network and sharing more than 500 million
files. The president of the RIAA Cary Sherman said, "The illegal distribution of
music on the internet is a serious issue for musicians, songwriters, and other
copyright owners, and the record companies have made great strides in addressing
this problem by educating and providing them with legitimate alternatives."
A personís values will influence the way an individual may feel
about downloading illegal copyrighted music. The music they want to download may
not be on the legitimate music downloading sites. Pressplay, for example, has a
lot of music, but there are many restrictions as to what consumers can do with
the music they download. The files downloaded have embedded "digital rights
management," which limits what can be done with them. Pressplay <http://www.pressplay.com>
will charge $9.99 per month for the unlimited package, $17.95 per month for the
unlimited plus package, and $14.99 per month for the annual plus package.
EMusic.com <http://www.EMusic.com> will charge $9.99 per month for a year
subscription, or $14.99 a month for a three month subscription. EMusic doesnít
place any restrictions on what can be done with the music, but has a limited
According to an article on CBS news website titled "Online
Swapping Crippling CD Sales," compact disc music sales decreased 7% during the
first half of 2002. This trend is an indication that online music sharing
networks may be hurting the recording industry. According to the RIAA, this
decrease cost the industry $284 million in lost sales. PricewaterhouseCoopers,
an independent survey company, reports a 5.3% drop in CD shipments in the first
half of 2001. The RIAA uses just-in-time delivery to monitor retail CD sales, so
CD shipments are reliably indicative of actual sales. This method of monitoring
will allow the recording industry to track the number of CD sales in real time.
Each purchase is recorded electronically and sent to the appropriate facility
for re-ordering, marketing, or advertising purposes.
Interestingly, previous studies independent of the music
industry have suggested that access to free music on the Web encourages
consumers to experiment with new acts, or to download only the music they like
to hear and buy more CDs.
Geoff Garin, a pollster for Peter D. Hart Research Associates,
states that he finds a striking connection between people who say they are
downloading more and buying fewer CDs. A random telephone survey of 860
consumers for the RIAA in May 2002 found that those individuals whose
downloading had increased during the last six months, 41% of those reported
buying less music, while 19% reported they were purchasing more music.
Individuals polled who said they were downloading the same amount as six months
ago, 25% of those said they purchased less music, compared with 13% who bought
According to a January 14, 2003 article on CBS news web site
titled "Internet Music Rights Deal Reported," Representative Zoe Lofgren,
(D)-California, Rick Boucher, (R)-Virginia, and John Doolittle, (R)-California,
believe it is the consumersí best interest to further define consumersí rights
under U.S. laws affecting copyrights. Boucher believes that the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has some serious flaws. Any individual that
modifies digital media in any way is in violation of the DMCA. Therefore,
ripping music off of CDs and copying the music to a hard drive in the form of
mp3 files has violated the DMCA. Boucher, Lofgren, and Doolittle have proposed
legislation to adopt a new bill, the Digital Media Consumersí Rights Act, to
allow consumers to regain their basic Fair Use Rights.
I have been following the development of the issue for Fair Use
Rights of the individual over the seemingly monopolistic power of the recording
industry. According to the Fair Use Rights act of 1974, consumers are not
violating any copyright laws when copying music onto their computers hard drive.
However, if the individual chooses to make available to the public copyrighted
work, or to sell copyrighted work with out the consent of the copyright holder,
then according to the DMCA of 1998 that individual is in direct violation of
this copyright law. I believe that this type of copyright infringement should be