Music Pirates Turn Up Volume; Recording Industry Suits Fail to Squelch Use of Online Services

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Music Pirates Turn Up Volume; Recording Industry Suits Fail to Squelch Use of Online Services


Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

File sharing remains widespread a year after the Recording Industry Association of America began a legal campaign to stop music piracy.

The music industry has filed lawsuits charging 4,680 persons with copyright infringement since Sept. 8, 2003, attempting to curb a decline in music sales from $14.3 billion in 2000 to $11.8 billion in 2003.

By one measure, file sharing has increased in the past year. The number of people sharing movie and music files at any one time on services such as Kazaa and EDonkey reached 7.6 million in August, up 18 percent from 6.2 million a year earlier, according to BigChampagne, a Los Angeles company that tracks file sharing.

There is debate over the accuracy of reports to quantify the people using peer-to-peer services. But most agree the amount of file sharing has changed little since the music industry's legal campaign started.

"This is going to be a long-term battle. If we're holding steady, that may be the best we can hope for in the short term," said Jay Rosenthal, legal counsel for the Recording Artists Coalition, an anti-piracy group started by singer Don Henley.

The industry hasn't stopped file sharing because many people still don't think that they will be caught, BigChampagne Chief Executive Eric Garland said.

But the dragnet to catch music pirates has raised awareness about copyright infringement, said Ann Chaitovitz, national director of sound recordings for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union representing about 11,000 vocalists.

"I think the lawsuits have had a positive effect in that they have educated people. People are now aware that file sharing violates the law," she said.

Lawsuits also may have generated interest in legal online music services. ITunes, the leading online music store in a fragmented market, sold its 100 millionth song last month. Microsoft Corp. acknowledged growth in demand for online music last week when it started its own service.

"The number one strategy is to offer a legitimate alternative," said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Suing people may not have curbed file sharing, but the lawsuits have prevented rampant music piracy, said Thomas Lee, president of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents 100,000 instrumentalists and supports the music industry's legal campaign. …

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