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TechPost01: Modern File Sharing

February 6, 2010

File sharing (specifically that of digital music) is an integral part of the modern world and is unstoppable.

INTRODUCTION

In essence, music file sharing is digitally dispensing audio files over the Internet (Andersen & Frenz, 2007). Currently, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks are the most popular method of file distribution. Patrons download a program (for example, BitTorrent), which gives them access to a P2P network (“File Sharing”, 2009). The software allows them to transfer shared files from other users while giving others access their own files. P2P networks can be used to distribute various types of files and media (not just music) and frequently spread pirated (illegal) versions of films, television shows, music and computer software. File sharing is an online service that has greatly shaped our media infrastructure. Anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can participate making it widely available, widely used, and debatably convivial.

ARTICLE

David Kravets published an article on Wired.com about the legal implications of the file-sharing phenomenon. Kravates (2009) describes a legal trial in which the US 1976 Copyright Act was manipulated. The Recording Industry Association of America sued an American mother for $222,000 over the sharing of 24 songs on a P2P network. Despite a retrial being held, several individuals are now questioning the laws in place surrounding copyright. Reportedly, the defendant in question has rejected settlement offers and tried to divert blame in court, stating the real culprits maybe be hackers or her own children. Although neither party in this case looks innocent the larger issue of the future of copyright remains.

OPINION

As society progresses and evolves, so too do our laws; our legal system is meant to protect people and promote equality. Technology is constantly evolving and sometimes our judicial system needs to catch up with changing devices. As new inventions and tools become available our laws must change to reflect their uses. Furthermore, as our societal values and goals change our laws must also evidence that. Perhaps copyright is not as important as it once was given the current state and prevalence of P2P file sharing. A fine balance must be achieved between the desires of the user and the right of the artist to prosper financially. The trial described in the article has shed light on the flaws in the current US Copyright Act. This is unquestionably a positive development in the copyright conversation, however its impact will not last indefinitely. The public must seek long-term solutions and maintain an ongoing discussion on the issue

IDEA

Perhaps this could all be avoided if everyone stopped downloading music, however that is a very unlikely prediction. The future is very uncertain, however file-sharing will not be around forever. Perhaps a new method of getting music will emerge. The recording industry may rethink the way we distribute and charge for music. It is possible that a new system will eliminate the need for copyright law. If all music enters the public domain a radical shift would occur. However idealist and unlikely it may be, I suggest that music corporations have faith in the consumer. People will pay for things they like and I think it is possible for artists to get proper financial compensation. This new artist-listener relationship may not include record labels. If they do survive, the labels will have to rethink their role in process of music distribution and sale.

REFERENCES

Andersen, B. & Frenz, M. (2007). The impact of music downloads and P2P file-sharing on the purchase of music: a study for industry Canada [Abstract]. Retrieved from: http://site.ebrary.com/lib/sfupubpolicy/docDetail.action?docID=10212735

Kravets, D. (2009, June 22). Will file-sharing case spawn a copyright reform movement? Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/06/thomasfollow/

File sharing (2010, January 17). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 10, 2004, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_sharing

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