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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Head to head: Music copying
The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) has blamed the illicit copying of music for a drop in global music sales of 5% in 2001.

BBC News Online speaks to two music industry observers - a computer consultant who believes sharing music can be a good thing and the head of the IFPI, who believes music should be paid for.

Bill Thompson, computer consultant and technology writer

It is odd that the music industry claims that the growth in CD sales in the UK last year is because the artists are so good, while the drop in sales in the US is because of "piracy" and "theft" of their copyright material.

Some might think that it is more likely to be because the American public just do not like the stuff that is on sale, but of course this would not support the anti-copying agenda of senior industry executives.

Once something is stored as a pattern of bits it is very hard to stop it being perfectly copied

The music industry, along with Hollywood, has realised that digital production and distribution of songs and movies makes it impossible for them to exert the same degree of control over the way that the public use their products.

Instead of acknowledging that some degree of sharing is a good thing, because it encourages people to listen to new bands before they go out and buy a CD, they want to stop all copying.

They do not even care that copyright laws are supposed to impose a balance between the rights holders - usually the companies rather than the musicians themselves, these days - and the public.

CD listener
Copying for personal use: Is it theft?
In any case, once something is stored as a pattern of bits in the digital age it is very hard to stop it being copied.

There are copy protection systems out there, but they can all be broken with remarkable ease by a dedicated hacker.

Recognising this, the music industry supports laws like the much-reviled US Digital Millennium Copyright Act which makes it a crime to break even the inadequate copy protection used on DVDs.

And now Senator Fritz Hollings is pushing the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act.

Maybe the music industry should be wondering about the sort of artists they currrently promote so heavily

If it became law it would force every manufacturer of digital equipment to include a government-approved copy protection system inside it, just to protect the commercial interests of Hollywood and the music industry.

It is a very bad bill which would make criminals of everyone who wanted to burn a spare copy of a CD for their car or to share with a friend and force manufacturers to limit the capabilities of their technology.

The music industry should not be allowed to blame the computer industry for producing tools which spoil their cosy little cartel and let anyone copy music.

Allen Dixon, General Counsel, IFPI

We are convinced that more music is being enjoyed by more people, in more varied ways, than ever before.

The problem is that so much music it isn't being paid for.

People are not copying because they don't like the music - they're copying because they do. But there are lots of easy, and legitimate, ways to get to know music without copying it - the radio, MTV, CDs your friends have bought.

The music business needs to continually invest in new artists to survive

The problem is that digital copying and internet file-swapping have created what is effectively a free distribution business where the artists and the people involved in making that music are not getting paid.

The music business needs to continually invest in new artists to survive. It does this by ensuring that successful bands and artists being paid for their recordings.

A lot of CDs come with copy protection
Record companies have to use technology to protect their music, whether it is through closing down plants involved in counterfeiting, fighting against internet piracy or through copy protection technology.

Meanwhile, new laws are coming into force that will prevent widespread dissemination of copying devices.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is just the US version of laws being implemented everywhere in the world via the UN WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) Treaties.

The music industry is embracing technology, not opposing it

Do we sue individual users in their homes for making one or two copies? Of course not.

Our internet piracy strategy is targeted at those who are causing the most damage to the business, and where the infringement of record producers' and artists' rights is most serious - namely at those who are distributing music on a mass scale.

The music industry is embracing technology, not opposing it.

But there is a world of difference between creating a technology that can distribute music for free and developing an on-line music business where all the creators and copyright holders get paid.

Technological innovators expect payment for what they have created - why should it be any different for artists and record companies?

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Music
Global music sales drop
16 Apr 02 | Music
Copycat CDs in an instant
11 Feb 02 | Music
UK CD market beats global slump
04 Jan 02 | Music
Major slump for US album sales
14 Nov 01 | Business
Music sales set for fall
07 Aug 01 | Music
CD sales continue to rise
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