The so-called peer-to-peer (P2P) phenomenon or file-sharing specifically of music has been sought to be stopped at the threat of legal prosecution. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 reinforced the earlier existing copyright laws of the United States. The legal move was based on the premise that illegal downloading of music infringes on the intellectual property rights of musicians and artists as it reduces the amount of money they should be earning.
Internet music piracy has been blamed for decreased CD sales although not everyone is convinced. This is because majority of those who choose to download in this manner are not actual potential buyers. They share music in the same way that they share other things to their friends since these people are teens and college kids.
File-sharing has been credited for playing a big part in furthering the popularity of songs. This move is generally spontaneous and those who do it for no financial consideration rarely have criminal inclinations of copyright infringement. That said, it doesn’t change the fact that illegal downloading remains legally unacceptable, although it appears to be socially acceptable.
Even when the Recording Industry Association of America or the RIAA has conceded to the truth that file sharing is only one of the many factors that negatively affected CD sales along with slow economic conditions as well as competing forms of entertainment, ceasing of illegal downloading of music is still being actively campaigned for. Not because you pay a site to download music automatically means you are not violating any law. It can happen that the site itself has no right to distribute the music which you downloaded.
Given the very complicated situation, isn’t it possible to harness the strength of P2P towards the benefit of the music industry, especially since there appears to be nothing yet that can absolutely stop file sharing?