File Sharing Essay

This essay has a total of 1313 words and 8 pages.

File Sharing

Author?s Note:

This was originally an informative speech and was some portions were edited for time
purposes, so some modifications may be required.If you?re using this as a speech, it will
be around eight minutes long.

Word Count: 1,054


Most people have an idea of what file sharing is, but they?re not exactly sure why it?s
such a big deal. Some of them may even be aware of the fact that file sharing is
punishable by law and carries a fine of up to and including $20,000. Since the
introduction of Napster in 1999, copyrighted music has been illegally duplicated more than
eight trillion times. In recent weeks, the Recording Industry Association of America has
filed more than three hundred lawsuits against American consumers who illegally downloaded
copyrighted music. File sharing has long been a problem for the recording industry, which
has only begun an uphill battle to alleviate illegal file sharing. In addition to the
lawsuits, the RIAA has employed the use of specialized computer applications in its quest
to seek out and hold accountable file sharing users. Naturally, millions of file sharing
people are not happy with the RIAA?s recent proceedings and have made the resolve to
retain their right to ?free? music. The biggest file-sharing networks have vowed to
continue to keep music ?free? while protecting their users from the RIAA?s retribution.

The origins of file sharing
Prior to file sharing, music lovers were forced to pay nearly twenty dollars for an album.
Some of them simply accepted the prices and went on to enjoy their favorite music while
others chose to purchase recordable audio cassettes in addition to albums and copy an
entire album onto one cassette. This copying was just as illegal then as file sharing is
now. The only difference between file sharing and copying an album onto a cassette is file
sharers run a greater risk of being caught. Federal officers weren?t going to burst
through someone?s home because they were copying an album. The crime was nearly impossible
for record companies to prove because the RIAA had no way of detecting when and where an
album was being copied. That is, until Napster arrived in January of 1999. Napster was
originally comprised of a massive network and three hundred servers, which gained instant
popularity. By the end of July of 1999, approximately twenty million people had registered
with Napster?s services, and an estimated half million were signing up daily.
Consequently, album sales dropped by nearly thirty percent that summer, and sales
continued to plummet well into the holiday season. By the end of the year, sales of
records, CDs and mini discs had dropped an additional thirty-five percent. Sales of
walkmans, stereo CD players and personal CD players decreased by three percent that year
as well. On the other hand, sales of recordable CDs and MP3 players increased by a
staggering one hundred sixty-nine percent in 1999, and the demand for these devices soon
overwhelmed the supply.

Why it?s a problem

It may or may not be obvious why illegal file sharing is a problem. Millions of people see
nothing wrong with downloading a song or two without paying for the download. It?s a
problem because it causes the price of albums to increase considerably for non-file
sharing consumers. The average music-loving American pays approximately from twenty-two
dollars to thirty dollars for each album he or she purchases. This wasn?t the case in the
years prior to Napster?s debut. The average American paid from eighteen to twenty dollars
for each album, with the exceptions of anthologies and double-album sets. It creates a
problem for the file sharing user. Most people have morals, or appear to, and constant
stealing might compromise those morals, which ultimately leads to other forms of theft in
some cases. It causes a problem for the music industry because 1) the record companies
lose money behind slumping album sales 2) the ?people behind the scenes? at the record
companies lose their jobs because the record companies cannot turn a decent profit, and 3)
the quality of artists? music is affected. Record companies that are facing grave
financial circumstances force their artists to compromise their artistry and produce the
most popular forms of music, which may irritate a large portion of some artists? fanbases
and cause the record companies to lose even more money.

What action has been taken to thwart file sharing?

Ironically, the RIAA has been slow to take action. In fact, the RIAA really didn?t begin
it?s retaliation until late 2002, when it accused four college students of downloading
more than one thousand music files. One of the students ended up getting expelled from his
respective university while the other three were required to pay heavy legal fines.
Recently, the RIAA pursued litigation against an elderly woman who downloaded a few Nat
King Cole and Bing Crosby music files, and most notably a twelve year old girl who
downloaded Britney Spears? entire catalog. The RIAA said it felt justified in exemplifying
these individuals because doing so appeared to be the most effective deterrent for file
sharers. Indeed, recent surveys indicate that at least two percent of the American
population no longer participates in the practice.

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