File Sharing

Ok, chances are that you've done it. As far back as cassette tapes (you may not remember those), people have been sharing music with other people. No one really thought of it as against the law. People would make mix tapes for their boyfriends/girlfriends, tapes to listen to on the way to the concert, or something to listen to at the party. Compact discs did the same thing years later, but then technology happened and record companies started realizing they were losing money fast.

Shawn Fanning, a 20-year-old freshman at Northwestern University, developed and founded Napster, the file-swapping service which has recently been shut down by court order due to a lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and several artists, including Metallica and Dr. Dre. This program allowed for direct peer-to-peer swapping of files in the MP3 format, providing unprecedented mass distribution of a single song, with no royalties being returned to the copyright holders.

Several programs have been developed over time for playing music over the Internet, using different programming formats to attempt consumers into using a particular player. Real Player, Windows Media, Winamp, and Liquid Audio are just a few. Liquid Audio stands out in that it was formed in 1996 and was the first online music service to charge users for its content. It provided a free trial of songs on its service, but the file was rendered useless after a certain time frame and required anyone wanting to continue to be able to listen to the song to pay for it. Napster brought the digital age to the music industry in full force. There are other free music services available, such as Limewire and Kazaa, that provide the same service Napster once did. The record companies are counting on consumers willing to pay for the ability to download new music on the Internet.

What's the big deal?

The big deal is that it's stealing. It was no big deal when someone would purchase the song and just share it with a couple friends. Now, it's being shared with the world and if it keeps going the way it has been, musicians aren't going to be able to afford make a living making music. So, in a nutshell, file-swapping is killing music.

Are you responsible?

Valid CSS!