The trading of MP3’s or digital music over the Internet is all ways going to be prevalent
part of the music industry, and is an unrealistic goal to try to control. The cost of controlling the
piracy issues over the Internet would cost record companies more money than what they are
losing due to MP3 trading. The record industry is trying to fight the major sites and companies in
court with copyright suits. Quinlan states Although downloading music over the Internet and
playing it back on computer or portable digital music players has become increasingly popular,
major record labels have been slow to embrace distribution over the Web because of the difficultly
in preventing unauthorized and unpaid copying of songs.
THE MP3 FORMAT:
MP3 is a file format which compresses audio files to efficiently store the audio data in files
that can be easily downloaded on the Internet. MP3 files are identified by the file extension
MP3 and require specialized players which decompress the files and then play the audio files like a
regular CD. For all practical purposes, mp3 files can be exact, near-perfect digital copies of the
original recorded material. In other words, an mp3 file is a near-perfect copy of a cd and can be
stored on a computer or other data storage media.MP3 shrinks audio files in such a way that
sound quality is preserved, but the file size is significantly smaller than it would be as a regular CD
song file. This means you are able, to download an entire song in only a few minutes. After that,
you can play the song instantlyas many times as you want–regardless of your modem speed!
Kimmel (1997) states Quite simply, the technology behind the MP3 audio format allows for high
compression ratio and CD- quality sound. An Mp3 file compresses a sound file to one-twelfth its
(MPEG Audio Layer 3) An audio compression technology that is part of the MPEG-1 and
MPEG-2 specifications. Developed in Germany in 1991 by the Fraunhofer Institute, MP3 music
files are played via software or a handheld device.
MP3 has made it feasible to download quality audio from the Web very quickly, causing
it to become a worldwide auditioning system for new musicians and labels. Established bands post
sample tracks from new albums to encourage CD sales, and new bands post their music on MP3
sites in order to develop an audience.
The main legal controversy involved with MP3 files is that they are being traded around
the Internet without the artist consent of the artist or record companies.
Kimmel (1997) states the following:
It seem obvious that the use of MP3 technology does not for the most part, meet the
requirements, set by the Copyright Law of 1976, to clam fair use for educational purposes.
These arguments can include protection gaps, where copyright treaties only protect
material for a certain amount of time, thus making produced and distributed after this gap
has expired legal. Another legal justification of bootleg recordings is that the copyright is
not owned by the artist, publisher, or record company, though this defense has not been as
successful as the protection gap defense.
This is what is making it easy for sites to be around such as MP3.com and programs such as
Length, format, and approximate size of a 5 minute music files.
The chief argument theat MP3.com states is thus Robertson (2000) says When a
consumers buys a CD, does the industry get to tell the consumer where she can listen to her
music? The type of technology that she can use to play her CD? Whether she can use new Internet
technologies? What about the fair use rights of the consumer, Hillary? The services that
MP3.com provides are as follows as long as you have purchased the CDs you are able to listen to
thought their technology. As RIAA lawsuit (2000) states once user obtains permanent access to
infringing reproductions by placing an order for or confirming to defendant that he is in the
possession of an audio CD (or a copy, authorized or unauthorized, of an audio CD) containing
those sound recording he then has free rain over that site. They had purchased a total of 80,000
CDs and made them assessable to their viewers. If you start looking at what MP3.com is doing,
the company is providing the music from records to people who have already bought them, said
digital music lawyer Whitney Broussard. Even it is illegal, what are the damages because there
arent really any lost sales? People still have to purchase the CDsKing (2000). Eventually
Mp3.com is planing to move to a system where you have to pay for listening to their services.
Robertson (2000) states that we believe that the artists will benefit far more by having the
Internet technologies given them the ability to make direct connection with their fans and
ultimately receive revenue on a pay-per-listen basis. Roberton also states We have every
intention of fighting your efforts to dictate the way people can listen to their music. I received a
email on may 11th from MP3.com has voluntarily agreed to disable their content in the
My.MP3.com database while negotiations continue apace. As a result, you will, at this time, be
unable to access the major labels’ content through your My.MP3.com account. They did however
say that it would be back up and running soon.
Napster is a program that has been created which connects you to everyone who is online
at a time and shares all of there MP3 databases. It has a search engine enabled in the program
where you can search for a song and down load it from a number of different accounts.
Boehlert (2000) states:
Created by a 19-year-old college student, Napster which instantly connects users to one
another stockpiles of mostly unauthorized MP3 files, free for the taking has rattled the record
industry. Faced with the daunting prospect of consumers simply downloading entire libraries of
music for free, the labels trade association, the Recording Industry Association of America,
(RIAA) quickly sued napster for trafficking in piracy.
Napsters home page (2000):
This Site is created and controlled by Napster from its offices within the state of California
of the United States of America. As such, the laws of the state of California will govern these
disclaimers, terms, and conditions, without regard to or application of choice of law rules or
principles. Napster makes no representation that materials in the web site or the Napster service
are appropriate or available for use in other locations, and access to them from territories where
their content or use is illegal is prohibited. Those who choose to access this web site from other
locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with applicable local
The idea of Napster has frightened many artists and Boehlert states Everybodys freaked out
about Napster, a lot of the artists are just shocked when they here that there songs re being
passed around for free. Most of the artist have been said to be scared about speaking out the
business end of there contracts in fear that they are going to be perceived as being greedy and
there sole purpose is in making money.
RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA CASE
The RIAA is a spokes person for the following parties UMG RECORDING, INC, SONY
MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT INC, WARNER BROS. RECORDS INC, ARISTA RECORDS
INC, ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION, BMG MUSIC THE RCA RECORDS
LABEL, CAPITOL RECORDS, INC, INTERSCOPE RECORDS. RIAA has recently sued
MY.MP3.com as the law suit states:
The defendant made unauthorized copies of those 80 000 audio CDs, loaded the
unauthorized copies onto file servers, and is permitting users of its Internet service to listen to and
download those unauthorized copies. Despite the plaintiffs requests, the defendant has refused to
discontinue this massive ongoing infringement. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive
relief, and statutory damages for willful copyright infringement… Defendant has willfully and with
full knowledge of plaintiffs copyrights made infringing reproductions of thousands of plaintiffs
copyrighted sound recordings for the purpose of operating its commercial My.MP3 interactive
What now has to happen is RIAA has to get around all the loop hole that the companies
have used such as different state and laws accessability their. It is also a really hard case to show
because the record industry in 1999 grew or gained by three percent. Alex Walsh, the vice
president of marketing for the RIAA said that just because sales are up does not mean that it is
time to declare the digital piracy hasnt hurt the music business…There is just no way to tell how
much we could have lost. There is no scientific or empirical way to determine how much more
music we could have sold.
Sony has been playing both sides of the field with the issue of MP3 piracy with the new
release of their new minidisc walkman. Boire (2000) states Now all of you favorite music
including MP3 files as well as CD tracks can be recorded on the high-quality, affordable
Minidisc media… At about $3 for a blank MD, it is reasonable to create and update a personalized
MD mix for every activity with the latest downloadable tunes. This shows how Sony know that
this is the way of the future and wants to jump on the band wagon. Knowing that it is not going to
be possible to ever stop the illegal trade of MP3’s Sony has harnessed away of making money off
of playing them.
Reference of Resources:
Eric, Baehelrt. March 24 2000. Artists to napster: Drop dead on-line. Available http://www.
Caral, Bezane. Music Industry targets student theiefs on-line. Available http://www.daily.
Brad, Kimmel. Fall 1997. Distributing music over the Internet on-line. Available http://www.
Tom, diederich. Recording industry group sues over MP3 on-line. Available http://computer.
No Author on the site. March 1 2000. Sony harnesses the Internet with minidisc walkman
player/recourders on-line. Available http://www.sel.sony.com/SEL/corpcomm/news/consumer
Brad, King. Apr. 24, 2000 Despite ‘Piracy,’ CD Sales Up on-line. Available http://www.
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