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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.
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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 percent in 2001 as music fans bought 62.5 million fewer CDs. The RIAA blames the major cause of the decline on online piracy of music from file sharing networks such as Kazaa. In response to this music piracy the RIAA's force has been more aggressive in its pursuit of individuals who download music. File-sharing has decreased CD sales and angered many artists. People are getting artist's music even before it is released to the public in the form of purchasable CDs. Pirated CDs have topped 1 billion in 2002 and continue to increase. Music artists argue that people are stealing their music and compare it to everyday people with everyday jobs not being paid for the work that they have done. They also argue that downloaders are stealing their intellectual property. Intellectual property should be the same as tangible property and it should be protected to the fullest extent of the law. File-sharing has been compared to walking into a store and taking whatever you want without paying for it. This stealing would increase the prices of products, decrease profits for a company or store, and cause people to lose their jobs. This is exactly what file-sharing can do if left in the wrong hands. File-sharing obviously brought down sales which in turn increased the price of CDs, lost profits for corporations and artists, and lost people their jobs. This is why file-sharing should not be free to the public and that is why the RIAA is constantly suing illegal file-sharers.
My opinion: I think that file-sharing should not be free for the obvious reason that it is really stealing the work of artists without paying for their services. However, I don't think that these companies should sell a song for 99 cents either. That is way too much for a song that you might not even like and 99 cents can add up very much. You could spend $20 very easily in about 2 minutes. I don't think that file-sharing is going to go away no matter how many people the RIAA sues for extravagant amounts of money. The RIAA needs to just sit down and try to figure out the best way to use this new great technology instead of trying to push it away. People were afraid of the television and radio at first to but now they are everywhere and being used all of the time. This is exactly what is going to happen with file-sharing technology. File sharing is a fantastic new way to listen to music and it gives people the opportunity to listen to new unheard of bands instead of listening to the radio and watching MTV and hearing the same songs over and over again. I mean who really wants to hear Britney Spears four times in one hour. It's enough to make people protest music. Therefore, I think that file-sharing shouldn't be free but make it cheap enough to where people don't break their wallets trying to listen to some decent music.