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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 08:28 GMT
Grammys boss warns of 'digital danger'
Michael Greene at the Grammy Awards
Michael Greene: Warned of "immediate danger"
Grammy Awards organiser Michael Greene has warned that the music industry is still at risk from music pirates.

Mr Greene, who is president of the Recording Academy, which stages the Grammys, told musicians and record executives at the awards ceremony the threat from illegal song-copying was still as big as ever.

The entire music food chain is at serious risk

Michael Greene
Recording Academy
Downloading songs from illegal internet sites and making copies of CDs have been blamed for a global slump in music sales.

"This illegal file-sharing and ripping of music is pervasive, out of control and it's oh so criminal," he said.

Music fans are said to be "ripping" when they make a digital copy of a CD on their computers, and "burning" is when tracks are copied onto a recordable disc.

To prove how easy it was to find songs breaking copyright rules on the internet, Mr Greene asked three students to spend two days downloading as many tracks as they could.

Many sites similar to Napster are still operating
Many sites similar to Napster are still operating
They found 6,000 songs that should have been covered by a copyright fee but were available for free on the web, Mr Greene said.

"That's three kids, folks. Now multiply that by millions of students and other computer users, and the problem comes into sharp focus.

"Songwriters, singers, musicians, labels, publishers - the entire music food chain is at serious risk."

Trade body the Recording Industry Association of America has estimated that about 3.6 billion songs are illegally downloaded per month.


Record companies won a long legal battle against the most high-profile of the download sites, Napster, but many more still operate.

Mr Greene warned new acts were particularly at risk of seeing their livelihoods diminish because of the practices.

"Many of the nominees tonight, especially the new and less established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalised out of our business," he said.

"Ripping is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dreams haplessly snared in this world wide web of theft and indifference."

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