Listening to songs is an enjoyable pastime for most people. in contrast to before when you could only get music from record stores-which, regrettably, many people would not afford- these days, it is quite uncomplicated and hassle-free to just download your favorites to enjoy at your leisure without the inconvenience of going out and buying the album. From a consumer standpoint this is Neat, right? But from the music industry standpoint, this creates a never ending problem as sales continue to decrease.
However, there is a legal option to getting music by logging on to the Internet and finding web sites that let you download your favorite hits. That alternative is streaming internet radio. The Internet is always on and always accessible (well, almost always)….you will hardly ever find a person who does not use it, which makes Internet radio incredibly convenient. Since music files are all copyrighted content, Internet radio providers often show ads to pay royalties to the recording companies, which in turn grant permission to play their copyrighted works. But, you say, I want the files on my computer…so what are the penalties of illegally downloading music?
Who has not heard about the lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)? These charges were filed against countless numbers of Internet users from all walks of life for downloading free online music. Its goal is not only to protect the integrity of the copyright content but, most importantly, to augment decreasing in music industry sales. After realizing that sales continued to drop and that the work did not produce significant impact Internet users whom they sued one by one, the RIAA has tweaked their method a bit.
A New Route
While these lawsuits are still on-going, it is geared towards a new direction. Instead of going after each Internet user that has downloaded a music file, a letter of complaint will be sent to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This made it more sensible and effective for the RIAA. First, your capacity to download music files is reliant on your Internet connection, hence once you are dropped by your ISP, you will no longer be able to download files. Second, collaborating with handful of ISPs is much simpler than going to court to sue individuals. This effort has allowed the RIAA to differentiate regular users from the list of illegal downloaders.
The Supreme Verdict
The RIAA has gone so far as to take their case to the Supreme Court, but since of the fact that the RIAA initiatives to stop music piracy and copyright infringement did not seem to work at all, the Supreme Court was compelled not to review the case. This determination has brought about another action from the RIAA. Instead of going after small-time downloaders, they will only go after those users who are uploading more than a thousand files. This means that even if you download copyright materials, you may be safe from charges as long as you will not share these files for someone else’s benefit…at the very least for the time being.
Illegal music downloading is no doubt harming the music industry-many Internet users are captivated to the widespread accessibility of totally free music downloads online. The penalties, while currently being applied mainly to those that make music available for download, can be devastating. The RIAA has switched tactics before though, so we advise sticking to streaming internet radio in case they start targeting individuals again-it’s free of charge, practical and legal.
SOPA = Less Liberty and more Robo-Justice For All
Image by DonkeyHotey
SOPA, aka the Protect IP Act, will bring Less Liberty and Robo-Justice for All.
Senator Ron Wyden’s "SOPA Statement Warns of Severe Repercussions to a Free and Open Internet if Bills are Passed"
You can read a Senate version of the bill in this PDF.
Sculpture of the "Spirit of Justice" from the Great Hall, 2nd floor of the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. The artist, Carl Paul Jennewein, created this aluminum sculpture in 1935. The dimensions are 12′ 6" tall x 48" in diameter. The source for this image of the "Spirit of Justice" is a another great photo by Carol M. Highsmith and available via the Library of Congress.
The image has been cropped, exposure increased, contrast increased, and the color is adjusted. The "Spirit of Justice" is holding a web page of the Protect IP Act pdf.