Viewpoint: Recording industry will lose war

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    NewsNet Editorial Board

    The recording industry has won a few battles in its fight against digital music piracy, but it will eventually lose the war.

    Scour Exchange’s recent announcement that it will lay off two-thirds of its workers because several of the company’s financial backers pulled out over concerns of pending lawsuits seems like a victory for the recording industry. But, in fact, the victory only gives the industry a false sense of hope.

    Mounting lawsuits will not stop the daily progress of technology. The introduction of the radio created a need for a recording industry, and now the evolution of technology is changing the way the music industry functions.

    Players in the recording industry, including artists whose music shows up on Napster and other online file-sharing sites, fear that this new technology will destroy their business.

    After all, if almost any song can be downloaded in near-CD quality online, what need have people for pre-packaged CDs? Why even buy them anymore?

    These and other questions have been asked by many in the music industry. And while their concerns are valid, the industry doesn’t seem to be hurting as much as some might think. CD sales were up six percent over last year, according to the Recording Industry of America.

    Besides, these file-sharing sites provide people with the music they want — without buying piles of CDs and later discovering that only a few songs on each CD are worth listening to. They also provide a venue where independent artists can get their music out to the public without the hassle of record labels. The sites give the underdogs a chance to be recognized.

    Technology continues to reform the way most entertainment industries function.

    One example is the online release of Stephen King’s new book, “The Plant,” which completely cut out middleman profits. Some publishers doubt King’s experiment will be successful, but they fear that its success will have an unprecedented impact on the book business.

    Movies are also moving toward computer technology. A new company called DivX 😉 uses a combination of Microsoft’s MPEG-4 technology and MP3 to compress video files so they can be downloaded quickly. The Motion Picture Association of America is fighting this emerging technology.

    But Napster, Scour, DivX ;-), MP3 and Stephen King are not violating any laws through their new-age actions. They see the potential computer technology has in the entertainment industry, and they have given it a chance. However, the illegality issue is a little muddled among the public because people are unaware of the conditions regarding the downloading of copyrighted material.

    Although artists ought to be compensated for the use of their work, perhaps they could form a partnership with the music-trading sites. In doing so, they would not only receive the compensation they deserve, they would get more exposure too.

    In the end, fighting against technology will not prove fruitful for the recording, movie and book industries. Each would be better off working with the new technology and finding a way to co-exist. Technology will not disappear. It will emerge with or without the help of these industries. So those in the industries can choose to be a part of the future or they can be buried in their own defeat.

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