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File sharing networks declared legal

A United States federal court has declared that file sharing networks are legal. The motion picture and music industries have been unsuccessful in their claim for damages due to copyright infringements taking place over these networks...

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A United States federal court has declared that file sharing networks are legal. The motion picture and music industries have been unsuccessful in their claim for damages due to copyright infringements taking place over these networks.

This is an important victory for progress. You may remember that the motion picture industry tried to ban home video recorders - and now rental of DVDs and videotapes is their biggest money-spinner. The record industry tried to ban domestic DAT recorders. They didn't succeed, but they effectively destroyed DAT as the format that would have been the natural successor to the audio cassette.

Imagine if this recent banning attempt had been successful. That would open the door for any technology capable of copying to be banned. Book and magazine publishers could have photocopiers banned. Photographic libraries could ban scanners. 100 years ago, print music publishers might have sought to ban records in the first place!

If the recent attempt had been successful, you can bet they would have been back in court to ban CD and DVD writers, hard disk drives etc., and demand compulsory registration of camcorders, digital cameras, personal stereos - and maybe even have another shot at video and DVD recorders (actually they are, but that's another story).

audiomasterclass.com is in support of the concept of intellectual property. That's how songwriters, composers, musicians and producers earn a living. That includes people right at the start of their careers who really need the money, not just the Paul McCartneys of the musical world. So if their income is being diminished by copyright infringement, it must be a bad thing. If you earn a living from music, now or in the future, you'll feel the same.

But the technological world is changing, and holding back technology is like trying to hold back the tide. It can't be done. The movie and music industries need to adapt their business models to this change, and be ready to adapt again as quickly and as often as necessary.

Instead, it seems they would rather treat the public as milk-producing cows, to be herded, corralled and exploited as they see fit.

To be honest, that is an insult, and the movie and music industries should not be surprised that people have reacted by sharing. Treat the public with respect and people won't mind paying a fair price for a good product.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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