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.