With the creation of new technologies and forums of media, industries must respond and adapt to the changes they create. The new technology of MP3s challenges the music recording industry today. MP3 stands for Motion Picture Expert Group Audio Layer 3 and, for those who do not know, is an audio file format that gives near CD quality sound compressed ten times that of the current standard. “MP3″ lists as one of the top five searched terms on Lycos and Hotbot (Kirchofer 1) and ranks up there with the word “Sex” on Yahoo! and Excite (Raihala 1). This new technology has its obvious advantages, but in its ability to aid the music industry it also aids those pirates and bootleggers who have been a thorn in the record industries side since day one. Due to this, the music industry has been trying their hardest to stop the spread of MP3s. If the music industry was spending resources trying to stop MP3s they could benefit from its capabilities. Piracy is the one problem that makes MP3s so controversial. Without this problem there would be absolutely no argument made. Piracy has been a problem in music since its corporate conception. “You look out there and there is a generation of people that think wrongly that music is free,” says Nicholas DiGiacomo, vice president of Scient Corp. (Kirchofer 2). The Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, reports that piracy costs them approximately $1 million a day is (Raihala 3). They total the world loss to be around $5 billion (Edgars 2). “I think it’s very similar to prostitution. The guy in Italy making copies is the pimp. The product you’re buying are the whores,” Rusty Harmon, manager of Hootie & the Blowfish, said (Edgars 1). MP3s come in to this by allowing piracy to easily occur over the Internet. Frank Creighton director of investigations for the RIAA said himself, “You have the equipment, you have the smarts, you have the bandwidth” (Edgars 2). To begin with the requirement to play MP3s are the standard computer: Pentium class processor or better, speakers, a sound card, and a player. Transfer is another matter though still not very complex to the average web surfer. First, one copies an MP3 from the CD. The WAV formats file one gets encoded using special but readily available and free software. Now, one posts the file over the Internet. There are many places on the to post files, and the majority of them are free. Free web site space is available at sites such as TheGlobe, Angelfire, Geocities, Xoom, Tripod, etc.. An alternative to a web site is also the usenet, a series of servers for posting messages and files for the general public. Transfer also occurs over chat rooms such as IRC, Hotline, or any of the many new Java chats. After they have the file it can be played off of the harddrive or decoded and burned onto a CD to be used on any CD player. A group in Europe consisting of 15 people with CD burners have 200 CDs with 150 songs each in MP3 format. They Plan on reaching 1,000 (Robertson 1). MP3s are so easy to get and send that no one ever thinks twice whether it is legal or not. “The same people who wouldn’t think of shoplifting a CD from Tower Records don’t think twice about downloading it on their home computer,” Cary Sherman of the RIAA says, “Somehow, we need to make it uncool for people to rip off artists they love by taking music without their permission” (Wehrman 2). The majority of the funds for fighting piracy Piracy is so common that the RIAA has made 1500 arrests since 1993 for it (Raihala 3). Cary Sherman himself found 80 illegal sites and more than 2 thousand illegal recordings in one afternoon sitting on the Internet (Wehrman 2). In its great attack on piracy 15 stores were shutdown and two web sites were sued by the RIAA with the help of it’s mock police force(Raihala 2). During this mad crusade the RIAA managed to threaten a 15 year old kid with jail and a $250,000 fine for merely having a webpage that linked to MP3 distributing sites (Raihala 3). These tactics as much as they seem to get things done really do nothing. When some one is forced out of a web site they just find another, and as new copyright protection is found it is broken by some college student with spare time. As Richard Gusler, Lawyer fo Hootie & the Blowfish, said:”Every time some one comes up a new technology to stop pirating, some guy or girl at a college somewhere comes up with a way to get by. My fear is that this is a black hole we’re jumping into, and I don’t believe we’re going to find a way to stop it” (Edgars 2). In the end all that happens is the fans get angry at the label. Many companies are finally realizing this such as TVT Records. They do not mind the posting of singles from their label but ask that whole albums not be made immediately available. Frank Davis of Caroline Records said:”By going out and using Gestapo tactics and purely legalese decrees about MP3, we’re going to offend a great deal of our fan base and generate ill will for the label” (Railhala 3). Back when recording tapes first came out the music industry had the same reaction as they are to MP3s (Raihala 1). They believed that people would begin to just tape whatever they wanted to see and wouldn’t buy records or got to movies. As can be seen the industries survived and in fact even increased sales during the time. Their reaction as seeable with hindsight was extreme compared to its truth. Though piracy over the Internet is common does not mean that common every day Joe will no anything about it. A majority of people will give an odd look for just rattling off two letters and a number. When Hootie & the Blowfish visited N.C. State University to fight piracy many people where surprised that such things were possible. A 20 year old Sophmore named Alicia Suka claimed, “I didn’t even know you could get stuff like that over the Internet. I just go to the CD store” (Edgars 3). Most people who are even interested in the concept just ask people to supply them with songs and often pay for it. The industry is less threatened by MP3s than they think. The CD still has better quality though only slightly. The normal fan would not get a plain looking CD anyway. Half of the CD is the artwork. An anonymous many called Buzz says, “Most People who are into music will always take the actual CD with booklet and packaging over some files that are sitting on their hard drive” (Raihala 4). The CD will always be more popular until a new device to store audio and data appears. Miller of A2B claims, “Shiny things that spin aren’t going away soon” (Wehrman 2).
By spending the resources wisely the music industry could benefit from the threat of MP3s. People such as Tyler Suchman of Global Music believe that Mp3s will give a needed revitalization of the music industry. He says, “Record Labels are going to have a tough time making the transition” (Wehrman 2). With Lycos’ new MP3 search engine and portable players in the works MP3s cannot stop from spreading. The record industry should prepare to embrace it and use it to their advantage. The major labels try dam up the flood, while the independent labels rejoice for the rain after a long drought. If only the major labels would rejoice they too could reap the benefits.– “Judge Bans Internet Music Device.” Associated Press October 17, 1998 (NewsBank, [Internet], Court Rulings, 1998). –Edgars, Geof. “Hootie & the Pirates.” The News & Observers (Raleigh, NC) September 2, 1998 Day Section Pg. E1. (NewsBank, [Internet], Piracy(Product), 1998). –Kirchofer, Tom. “Web Site Eases Search for Music Online.” The Miami Herald February 2, 1999 (NewsBank, [Internet], Music, 1999). –Raihala, Ross. “Music for the Masses.” Forum (Fargo, ND) February 4, 1999 (NewsBank, [Internet], Internet, 1999). –Robertson, Michael. “Attempts to shutdown pirate MP3 music sites are backfiring.” MP3.com http://www.mp3.com/news/025.html. –Wehrman, Jessica. “How Internet Technology is Changing the Music Industry.” Scripps Howard News Service November 27, 1998 (NewsBank, [Internet], Music, 1998).Thesis: The music industry could benefit from MP3 technology if they weren’t busy try to stop it. I. DefineA. MP3 (Motion Picture Expert Group Audio Layer 3) Compressed file format made for easy transfer of audio over the Internet.1.) One of the top five searches for Lycos and Hotbot.2.) Up there with “Sex” for searches on Yahoo and Excite.3.) Rio PMP 3000 by Diamond Multimedia.a.) Temporarily banned by judge Audrey Collins.b.) RIAA wanted royalties and compensation.c.) 2.4 ounces the size of cigarette box.d.) Can hold up to 2 hours of music.B. CD burner or CD writer computer device for writing CDs. II. Antithesis: MP3s aid the already costly music pirates and bootleggers. III. Con Argument: PiracyA. “I think it’s very similar to prostitution. The guy in Italy making copies is the pimp. The product you’re buying are whores.” Harmon Manager of Hootie & Blowfish.B. RIAA Recording Industry Association of America.1.) Reports $1 million are lost a day to music piracy.2.) Makeshift police force has 1,500 arrests since 1993.3.) 15 year old threatened with jail and $250,000 for a site with links to MP3 pages.4.) “You look out there and there is a generation that think wrongly that music is free.” Nicholas DiGiacomo, Vice Pres. of Scient Corp..5.) Estimates piracy cost the record industry $5 billion worldwide.6.) “You have the equipment, you have the smarts, you have the bandwidth.” Creighton Director of investigations for the RIAA.7.) Cary Sherman of the RIAA found 80 illegal sites and 20,000 illegal recordings in a afternoon.C. Transfer is free and easy.1.) Using free web pages such as:a.) TheGlobeb.) Angelfirec.) Geocitiesd.) Tripode.) Delphi2.) Newsgroups and the Usenet3.) Chat rooms likea.) IRC Internet relay chat (most primitive and least regulated)b.) HotLinec.) any Java Chat which only requires a browserD. CD Burners cost around $250 and the CD is usable on any player. Around 150 MP3s can fit on a CD.E. The record company lobbying group which awards gold and platinum records also spends most of it’s money on fighting piracy. IV. RebutalA. The music industry had the same reaction to tape cassettes when they came out.B. David Bowie and the Beastie Boys have released legally sanctioned MP3s.C. The techno band Underworld released an MP3 only available for one day.D. The average person doesn’t even know about Mp3s.E. “By going out and using Gestapo tactics and purely legalese decrees about MP3, we’re going to offend a great deal of fan base and generate ill will for the label.” Frank Davis Internet Director for Caroline Records.F. “Most people who are into music will always take the actual CD with a booklet and packaging over files sitting on their hard drive. I think the people who use MP3s to forego purchasing the actual CD are people who would have never purchased the CD in the first place.” Buzz, “Professional” MP3 Trader.G. TVT encourages fans to post singles but does not whole albums.H. “Every Time someone comes up with new technology to stop pirating, some guy or girl at a college somewhere comes up with a way to get by. My fear is that this is a black hole we’re jumping into, and I don’t believe we’re going to find a way to stop it.” Gusler, Lawyer for Hootie & the Blowfish. V. The Alternatives?A. Copyright protected files like watermark or various encryptions.B. Streaming audio plays audio off the Internet but not to the hard drive much like a radio.C. A2B music a division of AT&T1.) provides online music in a way to prevent distribution2.) “In most cases, the content owners say, ‘You, the person who downloaded this can play it, but you can’t pass it to others.’” Howard Singer, Chief Technical Officer of A2B. VI. Legitimate UsesA. Small upstart Bands bypass companies and form a direct fan base.B. MP3.com gets draws 100,000 users and features more than 2 million songs by unsigned bands.C. Lycos has started an MP3 search engine despite arguments from the RIAA.