Essay, Research Paper: MP3 Standard

Computers

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Are MP3’s a breakthrough in technology or are they just another bomb waiting
to explode on us? Many people say they are good, while others say they are not
just bad, but horrifying to musicians that want to make it to the top. MP3’s
are widely used by teenagers on their computers usually illegally, and their
distributors are constantly being threatened by the producers of the music.
Millions of dollars are being lost due to the Internet craze of the MP3
technology. This is mainly because fewer people are buying the legal music from
record stores. Now that the problem is here, Internet police are on the loose to
find these illegal distributors of music and put them to a stop. MP3’s are
highly compressed, CD-quality, sound files. The MP3 has become the most commonly
used unofficial file format, which is downloadable from the Internet. The only
requirement you need to play an MP3 is a program like Winamp (found at
www.winamp.com) or Microsoft Windows Media Player. The Internet allows users to
download songs (in MP3 format) in a matter of minutes without paying any money.
This compressed MP3 technology is popping up everywhere on the Internet. There
is almost no music site that you can go to where an MP3 of some sort is not
being offered. All you have to do is login and download. MP3’s are breaking
copyright laws and are a part of online piracy. Online piracy is playing, or
downloading, songs and lyrics without authorization and without paying tribute
to the artists, on the Internet. Downloading even one song without permission is
considered online piracy. When people download MP3’s from the Internet, they
choose to ignore the copyright laws because the disclaimers are all written in
font sizes under 10pts at the bottom of the page. If people stop going to the
site, the site stops making money. All things that might make the user leave the
site are hidden. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has two
copyrights that apply to MP3’s. 1. Copyright in musical work Lyrics and
musical notes as they’re written on paper. The songwriter or music publisher
typically owns this copyright. 2. Copyright in the sound recording Which is a
recording of a performer singing or playing the particular song. The record
company usually owns this copyright. Therefore, the only legal way to copy,
download, and upload an MP3 is to get permission, from the artist, which every
user either forgets to do, or doesn’t even bother. This is the primary cause
for the war of legal rights that goes on today, because free is good right?
Wrong! Having free MP3’s on the Internet creates a problem. The problem is
that millions and millions of dollars are lost everyday to all of the musicians
that make the music possible. The Canadian Recording Industry Association
reported that there are around 80,000 infringing MP3 sites on the Internet and
each one is carrying around 300 or more recordings each. That means that there
are around 24 million songs that are illegally on the Internet. Major money is
being lost here. The RIAA also calculated that there are 120 million downloads
from MP3 sites weekly and climbing, representing an annual loss of $5 billion
(US) to the recording industry and around $1 million a day in the United States
alone. The recording industry is going crazy trying to fix this problem. Brian
Robertson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association spoke at a
conference and said “There are tens of thousands of sound recordings that are
basically sitting around in a virtual record store with the door wide open and
everyone is helping themselves” and concluded by saying “Everyone using
MP3’s feels they have the inalienable right to use the product”. Because of
an increase in hard drive capacity, users cannot only trade individual songs,
but full albums too. This makes matters even worse because people just get what
is called a CD-Burner and writes the MP3’s onto a CD so they can now listen to
MP3’s on any audio CD player. People could also get what is called an MP3
player. An MP3 player is a small portable device that stores and plays MP3’s.
An example of one of these is a NOMAD Player (made by Creative). The users of
MP3’s are having their fun now, but how long will this adventure last? How
long will recording companies and artists allow money fall out of their pockets
by some little teenager who has no clue about the copyrights or laws he/she is
breaking? Not very long it seems. More and more companies are teaming up
together to fight MP3’s. The 5 biggest global music and entertainment
companies (Time Warner Inc., EMI, Sony, Seagram and Bertelsmann) have hooked up
with big computer businesses like IBM to try to control the music distribution
over the Internet. According to Market Tracker International, legal
Internet-related music sales rose to $147 million from $29 million in 1997. This
shows that companies can use the Internet as an advantage. Companies need to use
marketing techniques to lure users into their sites to actually pay for music
even though the net is filled with illegal web sites distributing the product
for free. Vorton Corp., for example, lures up to 50,000 visitors a day just for
selling CD’s at reasonable prices. The number of sales for Vorton Corp.
increases as the illegal downloads decrease. Organizations, all over the web,
have full-time employees surfing the Internet all day looking for offending MP3
sites. Artists and recording companies are losing the money they should make
from their hard and creative work because of illegal downloading of MP3’s. The
battle is just beginning. People need to know that even though it is easy to get
MP3 files for free. They are creating the artists and the recording companies,
and are breaking the law. Although MP3 files seem like a friend, they are really
everyone’s foe.
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