NEW YORK/LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The recording industry has won a major fight in its effort to stop illegal music downloading with a U.S. jury decision to impose $222,000 damages against a Minnesota woman who used a Web service to share music.
(Read the full story here.)
OK. Long story short, a woman was using a peer-to-peer file sharing program on her computer, called Kazaa, where a user can download files -- music, graphics, etc. -- from other users; at the same time, files on her computer could be downloaded by other people using Kazaa. So some record companies sued her for intellectual property rights infringement, and the jury awarded the record companies $222,000 for 24 songs -- more than $9,000 per song -- they said she made available for others to download.
An interesting factoid in an earlier article about this woman is that she buys many CDs.
This is just ludicrous. I understand the whole concept of intellectual property rights, and I also understand that downloading/uploading music is a violation of those property rights. But, to me, there are several mistakes being made on the part of the record companies.
First, just because someone downloads a song doesn't mean that they would have bought the whole CD if that download had been unavailable.
Second, by restricting music to those who can afford to buy numerous CDs, the recording industry is actually decreasing the market for their products: The music industry has to stop looking at the business as simply selling CDs; they are selling the performers, and if they restrict the number of people that are exposed to that performer, they are limiting the number of fans, which means fewer dollars on the bottom line (everything from concert tickets to T-shirts, posters, magazines).
Example: I've downloaded songs from bands I never heard of because the people offering the songs for download compared them to bands I already like -- and I've ended up being a fan of those new bands, though I never would have known about them had it not been for file sharing. File sharing, in fact, has resulted in more money for the companies, because I've then bought CDs, concert tickets and other related items that I would never have bought had I not been introduced to the music -- It's not like I'm going to walk into a store and plunk down $15 for something I've never heard of.
Which leads to another point: Maybe fewer people would download music if CDs weren't priced so incredibly high. When you have to pay $15-$20, or more, for something that costs pennies, you're getting ripped off.
And it's not even just the record companies that are screwing the fans -- some bands do it, too. A while back, the band Metallica started going after people on the Internet that were sharing Metallica songs. They got lists of thousands of names and actually tried to get the people -- their own fans -- in trouble. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was the leader of the effort, and complained that his art was being stolen.
Next thing you know, Ulrich will try getting a cut every time someone remembers a song he played.
I personally boycotted Metallica after that. I refuse to spend a dime on anything related to Metallica, which wasn't hard because they really are lousy now (they were good back in 1983-1988, and then got all serious about themselves and turned into "artists" instead of musicians, and, not surprisingly, the "art" suffered).
I'm a firm believer that the consumer has the power to break a company. Stop buying music -- CDs are not essential items. Listen to the radio, listen to them online, or borrow CDs from your local library -- but do NOT buy any more CDs.
If the record companies are whining about only making millions of dollars instead of billions, let them taste what it's like to make NO money. Convince everyone you know to boycott the music industry -- you won't have to do it for long. One or two quarters of slashed revenues can make a huge negative impact on a company.