April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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Downloading gives choice

A Canadian Federal Court ruled on Wednesday that downloading music for personal use will not result in a subpoena on your doorstep — at least temporarily.

The Canadian Recording Industry Association filed a motion this past February to have major Internet service providers disclose personal information about people suspected to be guilty of large-scale copyright infringement. The court ruled there was insufficient evidence to support this motion.

Short of getting search warrants, which would allow the industry to physically investigate the homes of alleged downloaders, there is not much the industry can do to stop downloading.

Ever since the downloading craze exploded within mainstream culture, this aspect of technology has revolutionized the way people experience music. Instantaneous access to songs has dramatically increased the electronic consumption of music. People can now design their own playlists, sampling from many genres to suit their unique musical tastes.

Downloading music allows listeners more freedom to explore various sounds and serves as an escape from the Nickelback-heavy sounds of corporate radio. The oligopolistic ownership of radio stations and the profit-hungry agendas of record companies have caused music lovers to turn away from once common musical outlets, opting instead for the freedom of file-sharing.

In response to the dwindling numbers of consumers in record stores, the music industry has launched several campaigns designed to instill guilt in their former customers. Commercials with slogans along the lines of “keep music coming” plead humbly for consumers to support their favourite artists. However, these attempts are falling short, as today’s public seems to be well aware of the fact that a very small amount of money from CD sales actually reaches the artists.

The public’s healthy skepticism about the cheesy and weak rhetoric of the “save music” campaigns seems clear, given the continuing popularity of file-sharing. Users often download one or two “disposable” songs for party mixes by artists that they are less than thrilled to support, such as Britney Spears, Aqua or Captain Beefheart (seriously, check him out. It’s hilarious).

File-sharing also allows users to feel out new bands or genres, without making the $15+ investment of buying the entire album. Regardless of the obvious advantage to poor students, record companies are angry to be losing profits. The CRIA has yet to give up its hunt for dangerous music offenders and is planning to appeal the court’s decision.

Digital technology has had a democratizing influence on society, providing music fans with the opportunity to explore a diverse range of music. Unless there is an Amish uprising, technology will only continue to advance. Looks like the CRIA better get with the times.



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