Six of the UK's leading ISP's are today announced Plans to send 'warning letters' to people illegally sharing music on the web.
"The deal, negotiated by the government, will see hundreds of thousands of letters sent to net users suspected of illegally sharing music." - BBC News, 24 July 2008
Is it me or is this just a case of greed on behalf of the music industry? Yes, distributing/sharing music is illegal but there are many applications of the sharing technology that could be legitimate. For example: If I own a Rolling Stones album I am within my rights to back it up to tape, CD-R or other medium. I am also able to import it into iTunes for my own personal use. So surely - if I am unable to get to my copy of a CD if I need to rip it or own an album on an unrippable format such as cassette - could I not download a version instead? After all, I have already paid for the music. In some case I have bought the same album on various formats over the years (Cassette, LP, CD) meaning I have already paid for the music 3 times over. Do the record companies really want us to have to pay for it again in mp3 format?
Are people no longer able to mediate their own activities? I'm sure everyone made a 'mix tape' for a friend in the days of the cassette. Strictly speaking that was illegal distribution of music but I didn't see HMV handing out warning letters to everyone buying a pack of blank tapes!
The fact that the music industry seems to have enough clout to get the government to negotiate the sending out of letters on their behalf highlights the fact that they have enough money already. Music, especially live music, has never been more popular - there are more festivals that ever before in the UK this year. The revenue from them alone must be enormous. Let alone the merchandising, radio play, interviews, endorsements and even those people like me who still like to actually buy a CD and have something tangible in my hand rather than the risk of my computer crashing and taking all my music. Is it possible that the music industry is just getting greedy?
Why is the government not cracking down on spammers in the same way? Maybe its because the sharers are an easier target and the music industry have more money to throw at the 'problem'.
I personally think that stopping illegal downloading won't really affect the profits made by the music industry. I mean: would the people who think illegally downloading music is OK actually go out and buy it if they weren't able to get it for free?