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Rated: 13+ · Draft · Computers · #1248986
Expository essay; cause and effect , definition, classification, examples~
Downloading Free Music Files

(This is the first half of a paper I was compsing for a client)

         Music lovers, music makers, and those who promote and sell the tunes we enjoy are in desperate conflict with their customers over how music should be sampled, and purchased. In 1999, Napster opened a web business where owners who already purchased popular music files in CD format, can be sent over the information superhighway, so that other people who are interested in owning that music can "rip" it from the system, and "burn" it to a CD which they create themselves. Eight years since music file sharing began, the number of illegal sharing sites has grown tremendously. Consequently, the RIAA, the association of members of the recording industry, is furious over perceived lost sales of music. Instead of working with music lovers to search for a happy medium in this music file crisis, they are suing their own customers out of panic. The move has only increased tension and hard feelings between those who make music, and those who enjoy listening to it.

         Musicians, songwriters, music organizations and record companies came together with a purpose to form an informational group called the MUSIC Coalition in September 2002. Their purpose was to educate music consumers of the results of mass illegal downloading. In addition to ads, they launched an informational web site at www.musicunited.org. By 2003, the motion picture industry joined the cause with education on anti piracy issues. US companies received information on how to prevent file sharing on their networks. The largest number of networks processing file sharing, however, come from college campuses, which sometimes bog down with music requests. In an effort to combat dropping CD sales, the RIAA filed suit against four students who were offering mini-Napster file sharing on their college computer networks. These students, and other similar networks across the country, shut down their file sharing business by April of 2003. In September of that year, the RIAA filed 261 copyright lawsuits in an aggressive campaign to discourage music piracy. Some question the logic of suing their customers.

         Peer to peer (P2P) downloading is a trend that has been difficult to stop, and the recording industry now regularly sues individuals through their IP addresses. In 2006, the RIAA sent letters to 700 US colleges informing staff and students that those who download illegally will be prosecuted, risk fines, and prison sentences. Punishments for commercial businesses and individuals who gain profit and break sound recording infringement laws can cost as much as $250,000, and three to six years in prison. They also face civil liabilities, statutory damages, and court costs. College students who have been caught have been allowed to pay fines before facing court, and the average of $12,500 works out to much more than the cost of the music they pirated.

         An article in the Appalachian State University News by Lillian Hagan on February 23, 2006, details the steps involved in prosecution. When the RIAA finds an offending IP address, the university cuts of computer network service until the pirated files have been deleted. When the RIAA receives notice from the university that the issue has been resolved, they may subpoena information to sue for financial damages. The Judicial Affairs office issues a reprimand to the student, and he is less likely to perform any legal downloading of files in the future. As this information becomes public through campus news, fewer individuals on college campuses continue to download illegally shared files.

To be continued....

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