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The Taming of the Internet Wild West

Charlie B. Dahan By

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You are being watched and the copyright owners are ready to take the individuals they can catch to court and even prosecute with the desired outcome being jail time.
I wanted to break from my usual column of offering advice and tips on how to break into and develop a career in music and the music industry and discuss a topic that has been the hot button topic since 2000, illegal file-sharing. This will not be your traditional argument whether it is right or wrong to download Mp3's without the copyright owners permission, because it has already been established. No, this is a warning to everyone who still participates in this activity whether they use Kazaa, Morpheus, Limewire, or any other site that facilitates this activity—you are being watched and the copyright owners are ready to take the individuals they can catch to court and even prosecute with the desired outcome being jail time.

In the last few weeks the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who represents the interests of the five major label group, Warner Music group, Sony, BMG, Universal and EMI, and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), who represents the major music publishers such as Warner-Chappell, SONY-ATV, Universal, and EMI Publishing, has won a landmark case against Verizon. The RIAA had been monitoring Kazaa, the largest file-sharing site since the RIAA and NMPA shut down and killed Napster, and noticed an individual who had downloaded and shared sever hundred illegal MP3's in one day. With such a gross and mass violation from one source, the RIAA moved on it's rights granted in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and demanded that Verizon, the company that the this individual used to access the internet and e-mail, turn over the name of the user they had identified as being a major copyright infringer. Verizon, fearing that such a demand would not only violate their relationship with their consumer base, but would cause a mass defection from their service for being a 'snitch' refused.

The RIAA took Verizon to court and won the right to demand that the infringer's name, address and any other contact be turned over immediately. While, Verizon has filed an appeal, the point in recounting this court case, is that you are being watched. You are being watched by an organization whose business has suffered tremendously since the dawn of Napster and who is focused like a laser on stamping out this activity that they rightfully see as nothing short of grand theft.

Since it has become more and more difficult to go after the sites like Kazaa and Morpheus due to their multi-national based business. The RIAA has adopted a pursuit of users and feel that once a few have been arrested and prosecuted to the point they are serving jail sentences for downloading a lot of Britney Spears and Creed MP3's, that will serve as the ultimate deterrent to internet piracy.

So rather than give you a lecture that what people are doing on these sites is wrong and nothing short of theft, please let this serve as your official warning—you are being watched when you download and share on these sites and the watcher wants to see that the violators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This won't stop the illegal sharing of music over the internet, but it sure will slow it down considerably.

Next time, we'll get back to business in the recording studio.

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