January 20, 2009

Music Industry Conceding To File-Sharers

As record sales continue to slump, music industry executives are being forced to make alliances with digital file-sharing services.

Music industry executives have met in Cannes for the Midem conference to discuss the future of music in the digital age.

With 95 percent of all digital music coming from unlicensed sources in 2008, according to IFPI, it is apparent that peer-to-peer downloading is here to stay.

As a result of the increase of downloaded music, the music industry faced a downturn by about 7 percent in 2007.

Previously, the recording industry has engaged itself in an uphill battle to seek out those who were illegally obtaining music. Since 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America has sought lawsuits against approximately 35,000 people.

However, the RIAA recently announced that it would no longer seek lawsuits against those suspected of piracy.

"When you sue a new technology, you lose the opportunity to channel that into a positive direction," Michael Robertson, the head of MP3Tunes, told Reuters.

"There is innovation happening but it's coming from the dark side of the Internet, from pirates, from the underground. And that is showing where the industry is going to be," said Robertson, who had to speak via video link because he is still engaged in copyright infringement lawsuits in the United States.

"You have to look underground, to see what people are doing and then give them commercial outlets that mirror that."

The RIAA now intends to make partnerships with Internet-service providers. Under these alliances, the RIAA will send an email to ISPs when it discovers a customer who is providing illegal copies of music online.

"The RIAA said it has agreements in principle with some ISPs, but declined to say which ones," according to the Wall Street Journal.

At the conference in Cannes, Google's David Eun, an outspoken critic said: "being partners means that you work together ... and you don't necessarily presume that the other person is trying to screw you frankly."

"There's a culture where it's: this is my interests, meet them. And ... what you find is I think a risk that you decrease the number of companies and partners that you have.

"So the question I pose to you and everyone in the industry is, how much innovation is really going on in the music industry and how much more could there be."

Google's YouTube, although credited for many advances in the digital age of music, has been suspect to several legal battles with members of the industry. Most recently, Warner Music Group forced the video-sharing site to remove all clips by Warner's artists.

However, the music industry continues to progress slowly. Apple Inc. announced this month that it will begin selling DRM-free songs to its customers, meaning that customers can play their songs on any device they like, without restrictions.


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