The Record Industry Continues Battle Against Free Music Downloads

Film and record producers are claiming that file-sharing platforms that allow users to make copies from other networks members’ computers are infringing copyright laws. They are also estimating that this could cost billions of dollars in lost revenues.

Recording industry claims it has lost 25% of its revenue since computer thieves used peer-to–peer file-sharing networks for free music downloads.

Grokster Ltd., which is well-known for its Grokster File-sharing Software, and StreamCast Networks Inc., from which the Morpheus Free Music Downloading Software is distributed are the latest two file-sharing companies targeted in these copyright lawsuits.

Grokster, Morpheus and others put a new spin on the file-sharing phenomenon. Instead of indexing shared files like Napster, these file-sharing tools allow network members to create their own indexes. This allows other members to download music and movies for free.

While musicians protest the illegal downloads of their music Fakaza , others back the way that music, movies, and copy can be shared via the Internet.

Music lovers use file-sharing sites to get the latest music releases before spending up to $18 on a CD that may have only one song. However, there will be others who will not purchase a CD and will continue to use the free music downloading networks.

Many users of file-sharing platforms have stated that they are good for the music business. File-sharing can help listeners discover smaller, independent bands they may not have heard on radio or the main stream.

Apple’s iTunes store has made file-sharing networks obsolete. Apple claims it sells over 1,000,000 songs per day and charges 99 cents per song. iTunes’s capabilities are still very limited. This leaves file-sharing networks with no access to unlimited music and movies.

End 2003 saw record companies start suing those who were downloading music for free. The recording industry will have a harder time tracking down individual users’ files with file-sharing networks such as Grokster and Morpheus.

They are expected to rule in June 2005, with the Supreme Court involved, on whether any action should or not be taken against the creators of file-sharing software.

An error in judgment could result in the demise of future products, such as the iPod, or other file-sharing programs that could be used legally.

Grokster and Morpheus don’t monitor or have knowledge of what is being downloaded. Therefore, a Los Angeles federal judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rescinded the copyright infringement allegations against these file-sharing network.

According to the Supreme Court’s 1984 ruling, Sony Betamax allows users to make home copies of TV programs that are copyrighted.

Last week’s recording industry angle was that companies such as Grokster and Morpheus were advertising their software would allow users to access free copies of copyrighted material. This should lead to them being sued and eventually shut down.

The jury is still out on this one, but file sharing networks will continue to offer free music downloads and many users won’t worry about getting sued. This is because most people don’t download more music per month.

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