Thursday, October 09, 2003

Kids these days: Surprise, surprise, most teenagers think it's okay to share music online. Much to the chagrin of the music industry, kids are exchanging music online despite being threatened with lawsuits.

I'll admit that I have some MP3s that I downloaded off Napster and KaZaA (good thing this is an anonymous blog). I don't have thousands like some people, but I've got enough for hours of enjoyment.

And guess what, I still buy CDs. The songs that I download are usually on CDs I would never buy in the first place. And sometimes I download a few songs from an artist to see which CD I do want to buy.

However, that's beside the point because the Recording Industry of America says that downloading unauthorized copies of music is breaking the law. And the RIAA is absolutely right. It is against copyright law.

But so is making a copy of a friend's tape onto a blank tape. And before the invention of CDs, I did that many times. Nobody complained then. Granted, there's no way anyone could distribute music as much or as often by recording onto blank tapes. But the principle still stands.

I also taped songs off the radio if I didn't want to shell out money for an album that only had one good song. This is no different.

The RIAA is within its legal right to sue the pants off people like me. But don't expect record sales to go up as a result. The music industry has been ripping off artists for years and overcharging for CDs. Online music sharing evolved as a result of that.

Officials from the music industry argue that they can't lower the prices on CDs because "you can't compete with free." I disagree. I can read The New York Times and The Washington Post for free online. Yet, they still sell papers at the newsstand.

Napster was right to compare file sharing to the Betamax case of 1984. The movie industry was terrified of the videocassette recorder, claiming it would put movies out of business. Instead, the movie industry makes 40 percent of its revenues from video sales and rentals.

This is just another change in technology. The recording industry needs to embrace it and make it sell.

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