Rory Cellan-Jones

Can a charity make file-sharing taboo?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 30 Apr 08, 14:57 GMT

Laura, aged 17, has seen the error of her ways. "I used to use Limewire but didn't realise it was wrong and my parents didn't know what I was doing." For those who don't know, Limewire is a file-sharing application widely used by teenagers to share music.

Now, though, a children's charity is spreading the word that downloading music can be both illegal and unsafe, and in its press release it quotes Laura in support of that message.

Boy listens to musicThe charity concerned is Childnet, which campaigns to improve internet safety. It is sending a leaflet to schools, colleges and record shops in 21 countries with the aim of helping teachers and parents to encourage young people to "use the internet and mobile phones safely and legally to download music."

The message can be boiled down to "Limewire - bad, iTunes - good" although it doesn't use those exact words.

The campaign is backed - and funded - by the music industry and it looks like a clever new tactic in what has so far been a pretty unsuccessful campaign to change the behaviour of young music fans. They've tried lawsuits, they've asked ISPs to cut off the accounts of persistent file-sharers - but a "hearts and minds" campaign fronted by a charity must have a better chance of success. Or will it?

It may be too late to change the behaviour of a generation which has grown up with the idea that music is free. The other day I asked the teenage children of a friend how much music they downloaded. "Oh I'm always trying new stuff," one said. "Yeah, hundreds of tracks in the last six months," the other chipped in.

And how much did they buy? They looked at me as I was mad. "No, we get them off Limewire," came the reply. And they're not unusual - Childnet itself points to figures suggesting a third of young people across Europe now use file-sharing sites to swap music - a far higher proportion than use the likes of iTunes.

And while parents may worry about some of the dangers their children face online, is there any evidence that the legality of music downloads is amongst their major concerns? A child caught shoplifting from a record store would be seen as a source of shame to many a family - but I don't get the impression that many would feel embarrassed to admit that junior was indulging in a little light file-sharing upstairs in his bedroom.

The music industry has spent the last decade pushing the message that file-sharing is akin to theft. Now it has the backing of a respected charity. But will there be thousands more Lauras, giving up file-sharing and paying for their downloads? Don't bet on it.


  • Comment number 1.

    Easy way to stop this happening, the music industry with all their power and money could impant a little bit of code into the files being shared... which then deletes the track as soon as the little criminal has finished downloading it.

    I know for a fact that would annoy the hell out of me and stay away from limewire from that point.

    But ofcourse, the music industry would have to spend lots of money to get it done, that means employing people to protect its own propoerty... something it does not seem willing to do, instead it is easier and cheaper trying to force the government to take action.

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh and for any people who support this kind of file sharing with the following ideology:

    "Why should I buy music when I can download it for free?"

    Think of this:

    "Why should I buy a PC when I can just take yours?"

    There, lets see you talk your way out this now!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not sure i like the idea of pitching such advice directly at kids when its sponsored by an industry with a commercial agenda.

    Please, i'm a parent, i have control of what's on my kids' computers. Please charities, pitch this stuff at me and not my kids.

    Apart from anything else it also sends a confusing message to kids. Commercial wrong is not the same as moral wrong. Commercial harm is not the same as harmful.

    Messing with kid's heads is going to get these charities into big trouble with parents, governors and teachers.

    They better start watching themselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    Mighty Morfa Power Ranger wrote:
    "Why should I buy a PC when I can just take yours?"

    Because if you take my PC I won't have it any more. However, if you take a copy of my music collection we both have it.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sounds to me more like a case of :

    Being ripped of by the music industry - GOOD!

    Ripping of the music industry - BAD!

    If Childnet were serious about this warning they wouldn't need to have it financed by the music industry. Instead this stinks of Childnet being bribed by them and once that happens it makes me wonder is Child net is still a truly charity or just another sold-out mouth of the music monster.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mighty Morfa - the rather obvious answer to your argument is that taking a PC directly affects the person you have taken the PC off, whereas to say the same about file sharing you would have to prove that the person getting the song for free would otherwise have bought it, which is frankly unlikely.

    And on the "little bit of code" - how would they implant it into the files being shared - in order to do so they would have to look at the files, which would be illegally intercepting data (without a court order)

    Furthermore, it should be noted that this "charity" has a long history with anti-sharing issues, it is what is generally known as a "front"

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes tell them that it's wrong to do this, but I hope that anything that you teach is balanced.

    Teach about the idea of copyright, about fair use, about all those things that the industry don't want you to know.

    Maybe if they learn how copyright has been changed and abused over the years they can be better informed when they become the future leaders.

  • Comment number 8.

    I love the (presumably unintended) irony of the next blog after this being titled "the best things in life are free". Someone's idea of a joke?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    People saying me taking their PC is different... no it isn't.

    Just as my comments was a play on words here is another one...

    You are stealing the the music, expect the companies (and artists) have no money in return... you have directly affected them! End of arguement!

    If you still have the music file then you are either a thief for not buying it anyway OR

    You are a Pirate, little different to those who use music priacy to finance other crimes like drugs, assisations amongst others. At the end of the day, you are a Pirate!

    You cannot justify taking music for free, end of! Now if the police happened to catch you you'd all be crying in the cell saying "I'm sorry, I didn't realise..."

    Yes you did, you fully realise what you are doing is illegal. So after filesharing, where does it stop? Videos? Credit Card details in 10 years from now?

    You are criminals. You can no longer say to a potential girlfriend or boyfriend that hoping to win their heart that you are not a thief! End of! Law is law! You do not argue with the law! There is no getting out of it!

    Don't try justifying what you do, you can't.

  • Comment number 11.

    The language needs correcting, "sharing" = "stealing".

    Limewire is a file-sharing application widely used by teenagers to steal music.

    It also appears to be very good at carrying torjans etc with it, from which I derive an income removing them.

  • Comment number 12.

    For goodness sake. Limewire or P2P is not illegal, why do the media always portray it as the cause for piracy?

    Piracy will occur and always has. Suing won't work, neither will education. The industries need to stop fighting it and start using it.

  • Comment number 13.


    "The language needs correcting, "sharing" = "stealing"."

    So... when you listen to a CD at a friends house, you are STEALING it and should pay royalties?

    It is all very uncertain isn't it.

  • Comment number 14.

    "You do not argue with the law!"

    welcome to democracy, if we disagree with the law then we most certainly do argue with it.

    If, 10 years ago, the music industry had embrased the internet as an efficient way of distributing music and sold tracks for between 10p and 30p then we'd all be buying music legally and music piracy would not exist.

    Alas, they are too greedy and so the population have voted with their feet and walked from the shops.

    Of course it's illegal but similarly it's clearly not theft since no-one's actually lost anything. It's nothing like the PC example above.

    If I didn't download music I would *not* buy it, I'd just listen to the radio (and switch stations during the adverts) so there's no lost money anywhere.

  • Comment number 15.

    Unfortunately this is a massive argument, but it can be summed up as follows:

    The music industry, desperate to RE-sell us CDs of albums we had already on vinyl and tape, spruced up with extra tracks and quality, are now upset because people are opting to try before they buy.

    In an era when music acts from the 1960s and 1970s continue to outsell those from the current age, the people responsible for running these organisations need to stop blaming the technology that they encouraged us to adopt, and get their own houses in order.

    The changes we've seen since Napster were signalled in the late 1980s, and none of the big publishers did anything about it.

    Music is a big business. Like any business, if you don't keep up, you're out of the game.

    What is most frustrating though is that people are continuing to paint anyone who downloads music as the same sort of thief who will steal a car. It's far more involved than that, and framing a complex issue that bisects culture, technology, law and economics in such black and white terms is not only stupid, it is irresponsible.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why should kids be educated not to use peer to peer technology. They should be educated in how to use it safely i.e not using Limewire. Peer to Peer will become a standard thing in a couple of years, rather than the taboo it is now. Sites like The pirate bay have been trying to do this for ages and will eventually break through.

  • Comment number 17.

    It would be helpful if people read the leaflet before commenting - it's available to download at - since it talks about fair use, explains that p2p is perfectly legal but can be used to copy unlicensed content, mentions Creative Commons and discusses places to get legitimate music from bands who are happy to share it.

    I know because I helped to write it.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think anyone has picked up on the morals here:

    An industry is using a charity to boost their profit.

    That's pretty sick to me and if anyone tried that through my charity I'd condemn them.

    P2P is just like my friend buying a CD from a shop and lending me it and me ripping it to my computer so I can listen to it over and over. In the end someone down the line must have bought the CD. So by this model, it's just like lending your mate a CD. They gonna make that illegal too?

    How's this different from sending your friend a song via MSNM?

    It's the industry's own fault for being so god damn greedy in the first place. If they offered a few tracks as a taster, they could probably get a few more sales.

    I'm starting a record company as we speak and my business model see's the internet as a good thing and embraces it to drive sales, rather than something to be feared.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh - and it doesn't use the word 'steal' once. It talks about unlicensed copying and illegal activities.

  • Comment number 20.

    The Record Industry have been milking this cow for a long time !
    They pushed Music CDs to the people charging US$20+ a CD, when I fact only 2 songs may be worthwhile. Would they give my money back, when I return the "product" unsatisfied with the purchased ?
    The answer is NO ! They make sure that there is a clause there that protects them to assure if you "open" the product to find out what you really bought, you cannot return it !
    I do not support piracy … But neither a industry that refuses to change because it is “good the way they have it so far!”.
    What needs to happen is that they need to change their business distribution “model”. Look at the success of iTunes ! And they also got a lot of criticism from the record Industry when they started too !
    The fact is that they find it cheaper to send the government agencies “bullies” after the 12 years olds and their parents to keep on making their easy profits.
    What’s next . The phone companies suing people for using Skype and avoiding the phone charges !?
    Isn’t suppose that the government is there to serve and protect the "people" ... and not the big Companies ?
    Where did this basic concept got lost ?

  • Comment number 21.

    i dont promote piracy,its bad. but the thing is. what the industry doesnt realise. a lot of people download a track then 9 times out of 10 go and buy it.

    so P2P does work. and certain companies are using P2P to share legally. so it seem its good for goose but not the gander.

    piracy is a personal thing between the pirate and the record companies not the artists. they have ripped people off to tune of millions. now its payback for pirates.

    not any peice of software will do the trick. its all in the pricing. if we look at the different copy protections. hmm we see a patern

    CSS- cracked
    BD+ on the verge of being cracked.

    so electronic protection dont work. the way to sell cd's or dvd's is release them quicker and cheaper. and put up the price of blank media.

    blue ray disc's are expensive. so you wont get the latest release down the boot sale for a fiver. if the disc to copy to costs a tenner. see now take note.

  • Comment number 22.

    Record companies miss the point time and again. Or at least maybe they would rather it look like that than admit they know what's really going on.

    The fatcat bosses reckon the lose out on 'millions of dollars worth of revenue' (paraphrase) each year due to downloaders. This is based, surely, on an assumption that people illegally download music for free as an alternative to buying it and paying money for it.

    Whereas in reality, the majority of the time, people download music for free as an alternative to not owning it at all - to doing without the music, rather than paying for it.

    Imagine someone who has 15,000 songs on their computer, and pretend that they've all been downloaded illegally.

    Well if that person had bought them all on iTunes at 79p each, that would have cost £11,850. So the record companies are over ten grand down... right??

    Do you think they'd've actually paid £11,850 to get those songs legally if getting them for free wasn't an option? Of course not - in a world where the ONLY way to get music is to pay for it, they would have just gone without 99.9% of that music.

    Therefore I think that to some extent it *can* be argued that music piracy is a victimless crime. Just look at the music industry and the glamourous rockstars - do they look like victims to you?

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.


    Research by Which? in 2005 found that UK users paid 79p (1.16 euros) to download a song, compared with 66p (99 euro cents) in France and Germany.

    Apple said it had always wanted to offer a fully pan-European service, BUT WAS RESTRICTED BY THE DEMANDS OF IT'S MUSIC PARTNERS."

    Which translates to;- "It's OK for us to screw you - but don't try it on US 'cos it ain't legal.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi. This is my first post on the bbc website.

    First of all I just want to say well put "Paul Freeman-Powell " for I quote "Well if that person had bought them all on iTunes at 79p each, that would have cost ?11,850. So the record companies are over ten grand down... right??"

    You see the music industry has other ways of making money. Music tours, promotions, adverts and the list could go on. I mean does Dr Dre, Eminem, Linkin Park, Green day, Girls aloud or people that work in music industry really look like they need the extra money?

    Second of all Id like to argue the point about this charity? They claim its to help kids learn the safety of p2p sharing but does anyone else think its a waste of time and money? Will kids really pay attention to any of this? Why don't we teach them the safty of drugs and weapons firsts.

    Third point id like to make is why are we worried about the money the music industry is loosing when people around the world have no food, no water and no way of living. So yes we do download music to save money but thats sometimes is to help our fellow man if we can or to help ourselves survive.

    Finally Id like to quote of a musican called "Ras Kass"
    "5 billion people on the planet earth need help/
    When 1% of the population controls 95% of the wealth/
    And thats the American Dream, 4 billion, 950 million broke human beings!"

    Music industry= American (hmmmm)

    P.S "Mighty Morfa Power Ranger" id like say to you personally if music is not free anymore and someone has to pay for it then some kids will just steal to pay for it. So at the end of the day your computer would just end up getting stolen anyway.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    You could take 'file sharing' wherever it appears in the article and the following comments and substitute 'second hand purchases' or 'home taping'.

    A very substantial quantity of the vinyl I bought in the Eighties was second-hand, from small records shops (most of which have now vanished), sometimes for as little as a quid per album. If I found something I really liked, I 'shared' it with friends. Ie i loaned it to them, and maybe they taped it onto cassettes. They did the same for me. I don't recall how much money I spent on music - both secondhand and new - over the years, but it's probably staggering.

    Are the people who condemn file sharing because the artists and labels responsible for putting it out don't make a profit from it, now going to demonstrate outside of second hand record shops because those shops make a profit from cd's or records that will not be shared with those who produced them? Would those same people have made statements of protest about the sale of cassette recorders or blank cassettes a few decades ago - and does anyone believe the industry was significantly harmed by the availability of such?

    The best way for an artist of any nature to become popular is through word of mouth - ie, by personal recommendation. We live in a material society, and if any kid nowadays really rates something they hear, they'll want to own a physical copy and let their friends know about it.

    To the person who said sharing a file was the same as allowing a person to enter your home and take your PC - well, you should know that the music industry's preferred DRM (Digital Rights Management) download format is as good as allowing complete strangers to walk into your home and telling you which CD's you can or can't listen to, and even take some of them away - which is literally what happens when the company controlling the DRM changes the rules, or alters the DRM code, or ceases to provide support for the DRM'ed music, as happened recently with MSN.

    Your analogy further fails because when two people file-share, they are granting each other permission to upload or download from a blocked-off area of each other's computer; the only way someone could walk into your house and take your computer, to follow your analogy logically, would be if you invited them into your house and told them to go ahead and take it. Except of course, to follow the analogy further (as someone pointed out) you wouldn't be taking the PC - you'd be offering them an exact duplicate of it.

    If you don't understand how file-sharing works, you probably shouldn't be commenting on it.

    Anyone who really wants to, can borrow a CD or rip it; or can borrow an entire album out of the library, and rip it; and the same goes for books and movies, of course.

    If anyone downloads a fileshare and decides not to pay for it by later buying an 'official' copy, that's not piracy, that's a consumer voting with his or her wallet, and thereby giving a clear indication of how much they value the song or album concerned. If the product is genuinely good, people will pay for it. Recent experiments in giving away electronic copies of new books in the publishing industry have so far resulted in much higher sales of the physical sales of those same books.

  • Comment number 28.

    'Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order [...] and the like.' - Justice William O. Douglas"

    -Specifically, the private sector. The industry needs to wake up to change, and get used to a free economy in which they do not control distribution and rights, and stop using their financial power to muscle in on governments.

  • Comment number 29.

    Charging £8 for a CD with one good song on is theft to im my opinion. Selling single track MP3s is fine, but even at 79p they are to much for most songs. Singles maybe, but most allbum tracks are rubbish and should be a lot less.
    They should just sell them DRM free. People are by nature anti authority. They more they push down the more we push back. Just look at HDCP, supposed to be hack proof, but you can already buy devices to render it useless and software to completely remove it from a BR/HD-DVD discs, which can then be ripped.

    Most of the music my friends have 'stolen' they would not have bought. Most they have bought they would not have stolen.

  • Comment number 30.

    Is it stealing or not?
    More like fare dodging; why pay for a train ticket when the train was going that way anyway?
    Try that with a revenue inspector and they'll laugh you into your criminal record.

  • Comment number 31.

    The argument that the music industry is greedy (whether or not that is or was true, and by what standard?) cannot be used as a justification for illegal and/or immoral behaviour. It’s clear that the issues are complex but there is something inherently wrong with not respecting copyright. Songwriters, musicians, actors and, yes, the industries that bring the media content that they help to create to market, have a right to earn a living. Competition, not piracy, should be the mechanism that controls pricing.

    I am by no means an apologist for the music industry, which undoubtedly has responded slowly to the advent of digital distribution and P2P networks. However as someone peripherally involved with the technology side, I know how easily the technical and legal complexities are misunderstood and underestimated. Those who say that the music industry needs to adopt new business models to fit the new technologies usually seem short of specifics. This couldn’t be because it’s actually very difficult, could it?

  • Comment number 32.

    Quite a balanced article. I agree it may be too late to change behaviour. Morality is more susceptible to what is practical than it is to commercial threats and blandishments. Even I suspect where children are concerned, because they will after all be grownups in due course.

    And this is just popular music we're talking about. It's been free for most of our history, technology made it very profitable, now technology has made it less so.

    For which aperçus incidentally I propose the modest charge for every reader of 99 pence per page view. If you further wish to download, copy and paste, or otherwise reproduce in digital form this post then terms are available upon request. Otherwise such activity is expressly prohibited.

    What...? Do you mean I don't own the internet? Crumbs, perhaps I'd better rethink my commercial outlook.

  • Comment number 33.

    Personally I think that downloading music can only really benefit the artist.

    From personal experience if there's something I really like then I will buy it and the artist benefits. If it was something I'm not so fussed about I would just download it. If I didn't have the ability to do so then not only would I not have it but I also wouldn't have the music, so if anything it improves exposure.

  • Comment number 34.

    Altitude2k.. I completely agree.

    So much music out there is only fair to middling to my ears, i would never buy it, but if it was free id have it. Over time i may like it more, and perhaps id buy a second album by the band or one specific single. If forced to buy a whole album i wouldnt, ive force to pay even 79p i probably wouldnt either.

    In reality ive bought more music since i ive been able to download it for free than i did before. Worthy music gets paid for.

  • Comment number 35.

    I find it hard to believe that a charity intended on protecting children online has concluded with the music industry to do its bidding. There are more pressing concerns online that this charity should be dealing with to protect children, e.g. chat rooms and let the music industry do its own dirty work.

    Viruses are more widely spread by e-mail rather then music sharing so using this has an excuse to totally ridicules and again shows the lack of knowledge this industry has.

    Children have shared music for generations be it on cassette, LP, CD and now by memory cards and blue tooth, involving a charity who try to protect children online will not deal with this problem.

  • Comment number 36.

    Rovex33 has his finger on one of the key issues. Web distribution is at the same time a great promotional tool (like Radio) and a means of avoiding paying for something. How should we decide whether we like something enough to want to pay for it? What’s the motive to purchase rather than download for free? Human nature being what it is, people will inevitably take something for free if they have a choice. So how, in that context can the artist get treated fairly?

    If artists (and distributors) could be guaranteed a small amount for every time their music was downloaded, they would be happy to accept a much lower unit price. But if a large proportion of their audience downloads for free they cannot adopt that strategy thus disadvantaging the “honest” purchaser. One of the great things about the web is that artists now have much more choice about how they market their music including the opportunity to bypass the “evil” record companies if they want. Shame then that they still cannot get exposure and a fair reward.

  • Comment number 37.

    File sharing has already taken over the world. No one will be able to guilt people into not doing it, because there's not much to be guilty about; you probably weren't going to pay for said music in the first place, and the chances of being caught are almost zero.

    What needs to be done is the creation of services that offers something that filesharing services don't. What that is, I don't know, but high quality recordings would be a good place to start.

  • Comment number 38.

    As much as I am for people's copyright to their work, filesharing is the the market´s answer to ridiculous CD prices at the time. The industry simply reacted too slowly to the emergence of a new technology, thinking it had slain the dragon when chopping the head off Napster.

    As for Childnet, it baffles me how naive an organization can be. To approach children with this kind a message is simply so out of date. And why did they need the backing of the music industry for their campaign? So much for credibility of a cause.

    If the music industry really wanted to target a group, it should have been today's parents and not their children. However, that approach should have been a decade ago. Asking the people you've ripped off for years to preach a gospel to their children in your favour is bound to fall on deaf ears, no matter what the tune is.

  • Comment number 39.

    Has the Charity Commission approved this? Since when has protecting an industry's business model qualified as charitable?

    As someone who works for a genuine charity, I remember the hoops that we had to jump through in order to achieve charitable status - proofs of public good, etc.

    Maintaining Sony's or 20th Century Fox's profitability was not mentioned, to the best of my recollection.

    What next - people running in the London Marathon in record-company-executive fancy dress??... "give a few quid to beat the file-sharers please mate, save our bonuses!"

  • Comment number 40.

    There's no way of justifying downloading music for free. Lots of people do it and they're all breaking the law. The fact is that most people know what they're doing is wrong but couldn't care less. I know people who've used Limewire, Bearshare and various other file sharing programs to illegally aquire music and suchlike. They know that they shouldn't and they know that it could get them in serious trouble but it's never stopped them.

    The problem is, as ever, that "everyone does it". And that makes people just starting up with it feel secure about joining in. The number of people doing it will expand and even /more/ people will be breaking the law in this way. And I feel that we've now got to a stage that there really is no going back. Cracking down on every person in the country who has copies of music, films or programs on their computer would take a ridiculous amount of time and effort that should be better spent. And then it will start again.

    So there is effectively no way to completely stop illegal file sharing. You can't stop the users - there are too many. You can't shut down programs like Limewire - they're legal, it's just that users are using them for illegal means. You can't stop producing music on computers - that would just be ridiculous. But if the police and the Government can do nothing to stop the illegal downloads...what happens next?

  • Comment number 41.

    As a consumer who rarely buys music or downloads it, i ask this question.

    If the music industry was so concerned that 'file sharing' is infact stealing, then why don't they try to focus on closing down limewire just like Napster was.

    Nobody who uses the internet would consider downloading music for free as 'stealing', as every person in the world practically does it and does not see it as a crime they will be punished for! You can hardly see the police coming round to your house and arresting you for downloading a song?! If so the prisons of this country would be filled with mindless 13 year olds!!

  • Comment number 42.

    "You see the music industry has other ways of making money. Music tours, promotions, adverts and the list could go on. I mean does Dr Dre, Eminem, Linkin Park, Green day, Girls aloud or people that work in music industry really look like they need the extra money?"
    - jaypesom

    It may surprise you to discover that the music industry is not entirely staffed by multimillionaire record artists, and even if it was, you cannot use such an excuse to justify theft any more than you can justify shoplifting from Tesco.

    The argument that files are digital assets and so no one has really lost anything is pure sophistry, and is a poor excuse from people who know that what they are doing is morally wrong and frankly if they don't know that then they need lessons in basic ethics.

    The argument that recordings from itunes or whatever are overpriced is beside the point, you cannot justify theft on the grounds that you can't afford to pay for the product. Record companies have a right to charge for their products, and have a staff of many thousands of people who deserve to earn a wage.

  • Comment number 43.

    jaboodle said:
    "why don't they try to focus on closing down limewire just like Napster was?"

    The problem with this is that Limewire isn't illegal software. File sharing is perfectly within the law as long as users have the correct copyrights. It's just being misused, and that really isn't Limewire's fault. As I udnerstand it, any user downloading the program has to agree not to use it for illegal purposes. So the honous is entirely on them to comply, not Limewire.

  • Comment number 44.

    Unless parents are willing to give their kids a hell of a lot more pocket money file sharing will continue to grow.

    Its not a matter of teaching write or wrong - I suspect your not giving these kids enough credit. They know its wrong but there is no alternative.

    I'd be perfectly willing to buy a CD if it was £5.99 to me thats a good price. I'm not however going to spend £12 or more on a cd which as has now become the norm to have about 7 tracks on it. Its extortionate.

    I'm also not going to pay 7/8 quid on itunes for music which technically still isn't mine - because once you've spent the money apple then says "no sorry, you may have paid for this track but we're only going to let you use it on 5 pc's so really we're only lending you the file" oh and I want a CD case too. In case I loose all my files - because you know - I did pay for this music.

    I rely on my dad to buy decent cd's and just borrow them from him. I certainly can't afford to buy music.

    Same goes for movies. I wont buy a dvd until its under a fiver on and dont even get me started on the waste of space that is bluray.

    @Mighty Morfa Power Ranger
    whatever the music industry embeds in files it'll do no good - people will hack it in days, just look what happened when they released their latest DRM.

  • Comment number 45.

    Expanding on Eruannax's point. It doesn't work, it's been tried before on DVD's and CD's. Copyright protection to prevent copying the media to a digital format on your computer.

    In order to curb it you would need to add software to the CD/DVD in order to place the command to delete software. This wouldn't work. A CD is digital audio. Adding the software to an audio alters the file and makes it digital media. As previous attempts have seen when you add copyright protection to prevent copying the file people simply accessed the file and removed the software. Pointless exercise. Provided you simply remove the eronious code.

  • Comment number 46.

    The way the industry is set out, "I will charge the maximum I can for this item", does not encourage people to pay for it. I know lots of people who do share files; do they feel the slightest shadow of guilt? NO.

    If the companies decided to charge more reasonable prices, then people might be more likely to buy the software or music that can otherwise be downloaded for free on LimeWire, KaZaa etc. Hundreds of pounds for software as basic as word processing, spreadsheets? Do the companies think we have more money than sense?

    As many people have already said, £15 for a CD, where only 3 or 4 of the tracks are particularly good is ridiculous. It's all one big con.

    A 'charity' that is sponsored by the music companies? Anyone with any sense at all could tell you that the companies will put pressure on the 'charity' to comply with the companies' demands. So the charity loses all of its credibility and becomes just one big puppet.

    It all boils down to the companies saying "We can rip you off, but if you even TRY to rip us off, we'll sue you."

  • Comment number 47.

    No-one seems to mention that there is another group of file-sharers here. Not the amorals or the apathetics, but those of us who actively wish to see the major record companies lose money.

    To us, music is not a business, it is still an art and if there are any musicians out there who would not do what they do if they couldn't make pots of cash then perhaps they should find another cash-cow to milk.
    There are independent record labels out there who continue to exist while selling mere hundreds of copies of records for six or seven quid a pop. If they can survive, why can the major labels not manage when they're selling a product by the millions for three times the cost?
    File-sharing has been a great boost to non-commercial and underground acts but has been devastating to mass-marketed overpriced rubbish which is fine by me.

    As the legendary record producer Steve Albini pointed out: The major acts are content to rip you off one time and leave you feeling cheated by selling you overpriced rubbish. When someone downloads a record though, that act has made a fan for free. Fans who will pay to go to concerts and buy t-shirts.

    Could it actually be that file-sharing puts more money directly into the pockets of the bands and by-passes the record labels? Oh well. Too bad.

    As for using a charity to push their propaganda? Is anyone really surprised at how low the major labels will stoop?

  • Comment number 48.

    "Why should I buy a PC when I can just take yours?"

    because a PC is worth buying, sold at prices according to standard economic pressures and advancement of technologies.

    whereas music is over-charged.

    calculations indicate that fifty pounds per music-fan per year would be enough to provide every single one of us with complete access to all audio ever produced ever. i'll pay that but damned if i'm paying fifteen pounds for an album and hoping i like it. itunes is a better alternative, but not the best. look at the success of In Rainbows by Radiohead, or Johnathon Coulton's music - optional micropayments are not only the way forward, they're a great way to make money.

  • Comment number 49.

    "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to
    another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it" - Theft Act 1968

    This simply cannot describe file-sharing. The 'why dont I steal your computer' comment is a false analogy. If you could manage to make a copy of my computer and still leave me with mine I very much doubt I would be morally outraged.

    File-sharing is not a victimless crime, I will concede. But it is an inevitable self correction in a market where, for too long, the industry giants have complacently enjoyed huge profit margins without adding any real value. Produce a good album with great cover art and packaging and I will buy it, regardless of whether I have the mp3 already.

    File-sharing will not kill the music industry, merely clear away alot of the deadwood and force it to adapt quickly and start offering more in return for peoples' increasingly limited cash.

  • Comment number 50.

    Lets put down some cold hard facts before embarking on mission statements:

    - Market trends change at least once per decade.
    - Music formats are not consistent after 20 years.

    Vinyls: Were main output until the 80s
    Cassettes: 80s-mid 90s
    CDs: 80s-present
    Mp3: Late 90s-date

    Was there not a discussion at one point: Cassettes vs CDs? Or perhaps Vinyls vs Cassettes?

    In terms of sound quality, MP3s (320kbps) are vitrually equal to CDs. The question is now in terms of how much do you value a single track? Is the money you pay to download the track good consideration in terms of value?

    These debates are far fetched for children so lets look at it from their point of view.

    Kids are skint and credit cards are usually unaccessable to minors. Downloading tracks or albums for free is more feasible as they dont have to explain their spending habits to their parents.

    The record companies evidently make money from their downloads but not from their record sales. My answer to them is: TOUGH LUCK. Your market has gone, your products are now priced accordingly and be prepared to start following traditional business models instead of ripping apart the consumer by asking £14 for a CD album.

    Why do we all sympathise with the record labels? Why can they not accept that the money to be made is long gone and they should start turning to more imaginative, unorthodox and adventurous methods into captivating their audiance, instead of sitting on their laurels pumping out products for HMV sell.

    As for the artists, 5 individuals trotting around the globe making millions and millions for playing music are going to be forgotten. It's hard to listen to multi-millionaires sing about broken hearts when a huge majority of people in this world are living in appaling condidions.

  • Comment number 51.

    As someone who grew up in the 90's, I had a few choices regarding music:

    Buy extortionately priced CD's with the little money I had,
    Listen to the radio,
    Borrow music from friends,
    Watch Top of the pops or music channels.

    Obviously I could not buy all the music I wanted, and infact only bought music from my favourite bands. This was the same for every kid.

    The music companies took advantage of young people, charging them as much as they could because there was no other way to distribute music at the time other than CD/Casette.

    Now young people can get all the music they want for as much as -they- want to pay for it, and they wont get caught. It's a complete reverse of the 90's. The vast majority of young people have no problem file sharing, it isn't a morale issue for them.

    Should it be a morale issue? Buying a music track isn't like buying a loaf of bread. If you like a certain song, you HAVE to pay what the music company demands. It's not like you can pick a cheaper song by a different band, because it's not the same, whereas cheap bread essentially does the same as expensive bread (if you're a student like me anyway).
    Now music consumers have a voice and guess what? A huge number of them download for free, rather than pay extortionate prices for music. And why wouldn't they?

    I support my favourite bands by buying their CD's and so do my friends.

    The music companies should be working with young people rather than against them.

  • Comment number 52.

    Who remembers the uproar caused by the music industry constantly ripping UK music purchasers off?, the price levied for CD's in the UK was a massive increase in the price compared to the rest of Europe and America, the industry tried to justify this by stating the UK releases had 'exclusive' content, which were either crappy b-sides and/or verbal intros by the artists, it all boiled down to the 'Rip-Britain' argument, with the music industry still ripping off the UK. Now.. however, with technological advances in the computing areana, the average PC user can and does download non DRM protected music files, surprisingly the music idustry are now bleating they are getting ripped off, well, I for one have a long memory... they did NOTHING when the shoe was on the other foot, maybe if they had, then the majority of people would listen now. OK... two wrongs don't make a right... but... let he who casts the first stone!!. (cough)

  • Comment number 53.

    Newsflash - be sure tio read this:

    U2 manager Paul McGuinness is furious at the escalating levels of illegal file sharing. According to recent calculations, the illegal sharing of U2 music files means that the band is losing almost one million pounds per minute in revenue. McGuinness has said that the band and himself are suffering greatly from this loss of royalties. Apparently Bono recently had to sell 6 of his houses in order to make ends meet whilst McGuinness’s own fortune was cut from 50 billion pounds to a trifling 30 billion. The same sad story is echoed in Hollywood where stars like Nicole Kidman and George Clooney are having to drop their normal salaries of thirty million dollars per movie to as little as fifteen million dollars due to the illegal downloading of movie files. As Hollywood reporter Vince Vile states: “Movie stars and movie moguls alike are feeling the pinch from illegal downloaders. Big name directors like Spielberg are apparently resorting to begging for money just to buy a coffee. As for the pay cuts affecting top actors, some stars like Ben Affleck are having to sell 4 or 5 of their sports cars in order to powder their noses above water.”

  • Comment number 54.

    I hope we will find a solution to all this. I am a guitarist/singer and hope that when I grow up I can start making music and earn money on it.

    If we in the future only download music for free illegally, I guess I'm going to give that up. But then when I think again: Will there even BE music if nobody buy it? At some point I guess people are forced to buy the music in order to get new.

    The musicians need the people, the people need the musicians. Quite confusing...

  • Comment number 55.

    infinitysky wrote:
    "As many people have already said, ?15 for a CD, where only 3 or 4 of the tracks are particularly good is ridiculous. It's all one big con."

    Erhm... if you only like 3 or 4 songs of the whole album, you might want to change favourite music artist(s)...

    I enjoy every little piece of my albums that I BUY for a, what I think, is a fair price.
    (I know I just posted, but I spotted this one and HAD to react)


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