NOTE: This article is difficult to find on Lexis-Nexis. You must do a powersearch and specify "UCLA Entertainment Law Review" as your source.
This is a journal article in the UCLA Entertainment Law Review. The article is by Kristy Wiehe, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. This article examines how the RIAA uses copyright law to sue individuals, and whether or not the RIAA’s interpretation of the law is correct. The author first describes how P2P file-sharing programs work, explaining that most of them scan the user’s computer for media files, and place these files in a “shared” folder that is uploaded to the P2P network. When the files are uploaded to the network, the user is making the files available for other users to download. The RIAA claims that if these files are copyrighted material, then this “making available” is defined as copyright infringement. In the Napster case in 2001, the court agreed with the RIAA’s view. The author, however, disagrees with the RIAA’s interpretation of the law. She contends that copyright law says it is illegal to distribute copies in the form of material objects to the public, and that the RIAA should have to prove that an actual transfer of the copyrighted material took place from one user to another. Parts of copyright law are quoted in the article to make this point. She believes that without a definitive “transfer of ownership,” the RIAA should not be able to sue someone. The RIAA believes that the “making available” of files is considered distribution, and this is the fundamental disagreement between the RIAA and the author.
In addition, the author compares the use of these lawsuits to stop file-sharing to an “effort to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.” The problem is so large that suing a few individuals will most likely not fix it. The solution proposed in the article is for the record companies to make it “economically rational” for consumers to pay for music files instead of downloading them illegally. She suggests pricing that asymptotically approaches zero as the number of songs purchased increases. Therefore, if a person downloads thousands of songs, they won’t have to make extremely high payments.
I strongly agree with the author’s interpretation of copyright law, and I believe that the record companies should have to present more proof than a file being in a “shared folder” in order to file a lawsuit. Also, the P2P programs should eliminate their scanning programs because there is a significant chance that they could incriminate an unknowing person who has legally obtained copyrighted work and stored it on his or her computer. Proof of a transfer should be necessary for a lawsuit, and it is also questionable whether or not an mp3 file is a “material object.” People are being sued without concrete proof of infringement, and the RIAA needs to be stopped from abusing the law to gain money. This argument will be part of my contention that these suits are unfair.
The author’s suggested business solution may be unfair to the record companies, but these companies certainly need to focus on making large-scale changes to their sales techniques.
This is a newspaper article by Amy Brittain that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on June 18, 2007. The article provides basic statistics about the RIAA’s file sharing lawsuits, makes an argument in support of the RIAA, and gives examples of solutions being implemented at some universities. The article says that since 1999, physical music sales have declined 30 percent, and that two-thirds of college students’ music was illegally obtained. Recording companies have suffered millions of dollars in losses, and the author reminds us that, “For every one Justin Timberlake, there are hundreds of sound-technicians, backup singers, and retail workers who are hurt by illegal downloading.” As a result of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in 1998, universities are protected from file-sharing lawsuits, and this is why individual students are being sued.
Some universities have tried to solve the problem by forcing students to install programs that block the use of P2P programs, and others have started to use campus-wide filters that “stop the flow” of copyrighted material.
This article is important to my paper because it gives examples of possible solutions that, in my opinion, are completely unfair to the students. These solutions are the exact WRONG way to solve the file-sharing problem. Blocking P2P programs is unfair because they can be used in many legal ways. Students should be allowed to share non-copyrighted material over the internet as much as they please. That is one of the basic functions of the internet. This right should not be taken away because the RIAA is unhappy. Also, where would these types of restrictions end? Would universities eventually block email programs because copyrighted music files can be distributed by email? Filters that block the distribution of copyrighted material are a better idea. But what if the student has a fair use for the copyrighted material? Shouldn’t he or she have access to this material to use in projects or presentations for media studies classes?
This article’s argument in favor of the RIAA goes against my thesis, but it does make sense. There are many people who are hurt by copyright infringement, which is unfortunate, but a FAIR solution must be implemented to help these people.
This is a journal article in a journal called Popular Music, and it is by Eamonn Forde. It was written in 2004. This article gives information about the state of file-sharing in 2004, and explains that record companies shouldn’t worry so much about it. The article’s argument is that record companies will still be able to sell a large amount of CDs despite file sharing, and that there are other forms of media from which they can profit.
The film and TV industries are also becoming upset about the use of P2P networks to share files, because many of them are video files. In other countries, the government has tried to help these industries with the use of levies. In Germany, there are levies on PCs and CD-Rs that go to record companies. And all over the world, record companies are flooding P2P networks with fake versions of songs to frustrate the users. This is called “spoofing.”
I doubt the “spoofing” tactic works very well, and the levy idea seems unfair to the consumer, who would be forced to pay higher prices for goods. This article is important to my research because it suggests it might be best for the record companies to ignore P2P file-sharing. In France, CD sales have been going up by 5 percent every year, and they also have P2P networks. It is possible that the record companies may just need more creative marketing schemes to attract more customers. Also, they need to take advantage of the market for music on cell phones, because that market is less likely to be affected by file sharing. As the author says, “Online delivery is not the death knell for record companies. It should be seen, ideally, as the wake up call they so dearly needed.” If record sales are still increasing in countries that face the same file-sharing problems, American record companies need to try to emulate some of these other companies’ strategies. They claim that their lawsuits are necessary, but maybe if they are more creative, they can avoid angering their customers and causing additional damage to their industry.