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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
I am a 'net pirate'
The industry is tackling rampant piracy
One so-called 'net pirate' says the industry has got it all wrong and should not be trying to crack down on those who download music from the internet.

I have been downloading music from online services such as Kazaa for the last couple of years.

I probably have about 50 CDs worth of music on my PC's hard drive and about five actual CDs onto which I have copied some of my favourite tracks.

I'm a casual music pirate, not the hard-bitten downloader that the music industry is trying to track down and I'm not worried about the FBI, or whoever, knocking on my door to hand me a writ.

I know what I am doing is illegal, but I feel it is no more illegal or threatening to the music industry, than my videotaping of programmes from TV is threatening to broadcasters.

What happens if I hear a song on the radio and I want to own that one song?
There is clearly a distinction between casual music piracy and the industrial-like piracy some users carry out, downloading thousands of songs, copying them onto CDs and offering them to friends.

The record industry has a valuable product to protect and is right to do so, but it wilfully fails to accept that the vast majority of people who download songs from the internet do so without paying for it because there is no legitimate and convincing alternative.

For the last 10 years the music industry has resolutely refused to accept that technology and music lovers have changed and instead is clinging on to a view of the world forever stuck in 1993.

In 1993, the CD was the undisputed king of the music market, the teenager was the hallowed consumer to be courted and chased while the internet and mp3s were the preserve of a few geeks.

Global superstars

The music industry still wants us to buy glossy CD albums from record shops and does not care if we like tracks one to five but hate tracks six to 11.

It wants us to buy CD singles, even though we are paying a high price for one song with a few dodgy "b-sides" and poor packaging adding to the cost.

The music industry is afraid of losing control; it is afraid of giving too much choice to consumers
The industry wants to create a handful of global superstars and foist them on a global teen audience but is not interested in anyone over 30 years old.

But what happens if I hear a song on the radio and I want to own that one song?

Let's say the song is five years old and was never a chart hit and my local record store does not have a copy, or even an album on which it appeared.

The music industry makes it virtually impossible for me to buy that one song, although it is more than happy to charge me 15 for a Beatles album released more than 30 years ago.

Internet age

The technology to let me buy one song from the internet has been around for the last 10 years but still the record industry is dragging its feet.

Until the music industry realises that it has to cede some control we will continue to use sites like Kazaa
Back catalogues of millions of songs remain under lock and key in dusty archives rather than being offered as potentially lucrative choices to music lovers.

And why? Because the music industry is afraid of losing control; it is afraid of giving too much choice to consumers; it is afraid that it won't be able to dictate what, how and when we listen to music.

Issues of copyright and performing rights and digital rights management could and should have been sorted many, many years ago.

The advent of the internet age has given music lovers more freedom to listen to what we want, when we want and how we want.

More than 50 years of paying for music shows that consumers are willing to hand over money but until the music industry realises that it has to cede some control we will continue to use sites like Kazaa.



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