The Record Industry Continues Battle Against Free Music Downloads

Movie and record producers alike are saying file-sharing networks that permit its users the ability to make copies from other network member’s computers are infringing on the copyright laws and costing billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The recording industry claims to have lost 25% of it’s revenues since computer, so called thieves, have been using peer-to-peer file-sharing networks to obtain free music downloads.

The two latest file-sharing companies to be targeted by these copyright lawsuits are Grokster Ltd, known for its Grokster file-sharing software and StreamCast Networks Inc. from which the Morpheus free music downloading software is distributed.

Unlike Napster, Grokster and Morpheus put a spin on the popular file-sharing phenomenon. Instead of indexing the shared files like Napster did, these file-sharing products enables it’s network members to build their own indexes – thus allowing others within the network to download free music and movie files.

While some musicians are protesting they are being cheated by these illegal free music downloads – others are speaking out backing how music, movies, pictures and copy are being shared over the Internet.

Some music lovers actually use the file-sharing networks to check out an artists latest release before paying up to $18 for a CD that may only have one good song on it. You still will have those that will never make a purchase and continue to take advantage of the free music download networks.

Many file-sharing network users have said that using these networks is good for the music industry. File-sharing can bring listeners to smaller, independent bands that they may not otherwise hear on radio or in the mainstream.

With the likes of Apple’s iTunes store many have turned their backs on file-sharing networks paying 99 cents per song – Apple claims to sell more than 1 millions songs everyday. Although iTunes is limited still, thus giving file sharing networks a void to fill the unlimited access to music and movies that may otherwise not be able from iTunes.

In late 2003 record companies started suing individuals that were downloading free music. With file-sharing networks like Grokster and Morpheus it will be much harder for the recording industry to track down files that are uploaded by individual users.

With the Supreme Court now involved they are expected to make some type of ruling in June 2005 on what if any action should be taken against the makers of file-sharing network software.

The wrong decision could discourage the future development of products like the iPod or other file-sharing software programs that could be used for legal purposes.

Since Grokster and Morpheus do not monitor or have any knowledge of who or what is being downloaded, a federal judge in Los Angeles and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the copyright infringement charges against both these file-sharing networks.

Based on the 1984 ruling of the Supreme Court that stated the use of Sony Betamax, which allowed users to make copies at home of copyrighted TV programs, was legal.

The recording industries angle last week was that the approach companies like Grokster and Morpheus are making by advertising their software will provide access to free copies of copyrighted materials should allow them to be sued and shut down.

While the jury may be out on this one for sometime – file sharing networks and free music downloads will continue with most users not really worrying about getting sued, since most do not download free music in excess of a few files per month.

Copyright 2005 – Tim Somers, 3G Enterprises, LLC

Free Music for Your iPod – How to Download Free and Legal MP3 Files

If you’re looking for free music mp3 files for your iPod or another mp3 player, but you don’t want to break the law, there are definitely other options for you besides just waiting for iTunes to release their weekly free song. You don’t need to resort to ignoring copyright and brazenly using file sharing networks. There’s actually plenty of free music out there for the taking. You just need to know where to look for it.

One great source of free and legal music is creative commons licensed songs. A lot of new artists make their music available available for free download in the hopes of finding themselves some new fans. And you don’t have to wade through thousands of bad songs looking for the good stuff. Other music lovers like yourself take the time to review new music and either post both the mp3’s and their reviews on blogs or in music podcasts where you get to hear the songs and possibly interviews with the bands.

There’s actually plenty of great stuff out there to listen too and I find myself stumbling across new artists all the time. MySpace and/or Facebook are also some great places to look for new artists. Many musical artists will have a MySpace page with an audio player so you can listen to their music online and then you can visit their official website to see if they also make some of their songs available to download so you can actually listen to them on your mp3 player.

So how does this all work? In a nutshell, Creative Commons is an alternative to the standard copyright formulation of “All Rights Reserved.” Instead, artists may choose to license their work with “Some Rights Reserved”. With several licensing options to select from, Creative Commons represents a compromise between “All Rights Reserved” in which all artistic output is subject to bureaucracy, lengthy negotiations and financial arrangements in order for someone else to make use of it, and “Public Domain” which represents a free-for-all environment of no rights whatsoever.

Many music podcasts make use of creative commons licensed music and song to bring listeners some of the newest cutting edge music and it makes it so much easier to find good stuff to listen to if you have someone doing a lot of the sifting for you. And let’s face it, even the big name artists started out unsigned and unpromoted. If you’ve ever met someone who got to see a big name band and some small night club before they hit the big time and felt guilty, discovering new music is your chance to be the first to discover the next big hit.