In the contemporary digital world around us, the idea of getting any type of music from Internet is getting an enormous popularity. This idea stimulates already scares and unlimited wants of the music lovers. Of course, the fact that everybody who owns computer could download any music he likes for free is very attractive. There are limits, however, as to how much pleasure we can have by using something that is morally judged. This question arises in any other piracy-related area.
MP3 piracy and moral issues bind us together and are changing lives, while the technology advancements make it easier for us to realize it. People who produce intellectual property and the ones that benefit from it are currently discussing the implications this can have on the online music in the future. There are several main sides to the problem.
There are huge corporations that deal with copyright infringement and push litigation. Overall recording industry principles say that is wrong to copy somebody else’s work and perhaps return profit to the authors. These principles ensure that the original ideas have value. The primary concern of copywriting people is the loss of revenue from selling music in the music shops. Naturally, they encourage legislation and copywriting to protect their own profits. They are trying to ban websites that carry free online music files that are under copyright protection. In addition, the record industry takes responsibility for investing in new music projects, developing online music services for its consumers and seeking partners. They often give government advises on the laws that would better protect music authors and their works.
In contrast, some of the consumer groups think that it is an easy way for promoting little known artists to allow them a shot for the success. It could be of great help for the struggling artists too. I mean those artists that lost their popularity among the audience, so they are given another attempt to come back. This way a Spin article has confirmed that about thirty percent of artists that were struggling to get back the popularity did so because of an easy and free access to their music. Thus public could check their music for progress without having to pay money for it and gave some chances for the artists to return their recognition. The concern in the situation remains the profit.
There are two categories of intellectual property. The first one is composed of writing, music, and films, which are covered by copyright. Inventions and innovations are covered by patent. These two categories have covered for years many kinds of work with little or no conflict. Unfortunately, it is not that easy when dealing with such a complex matter as computer software. When something is typed on a computer, it is considered writing, as it is all written words and numbers. However, when executed by the computer, it functions like an invention, performing a specific task as instructed by the user.
Online music falls into both categories. Generally music is covered by copyright laws, for the most mass market at least. Copyrights last as long as the author is alive plus fifty years and can be renewed. Patents last only seventeen years and cannot be renewed.
Thus, you can see the need for change in the system. The current laws regarding the protection of intellectual material cannot adequately protect music; they are either too weak or too strict. We need a new category of protection. The perfect protection law would most likely last for 10 years, renewable. This is long enough to protect a program for as long as it is still useful, and allows for sequels and new versions just in case. It would also have to allow others to make similar software, keeping the industry competitive, but it would have to not allow copying of portions of other music. However, there are many who dispute this, and I can see their point. Current copyright laws have and will protect software effectively; it can be just as protected as other mediums. This is true sometimes, however, to copy a book would take time.
Obviously, an information revolution is taking place nowadays. Digital technology started a convergence of every areas related to information, such as media and information technology and telecommunications. It gave the possibility for the globalization of communication, economy and social interaction. Digital networks such as TVs, telephones and personal computers offer a big variety of services, starting from data and voice communications ending with e-commerce, transfer of audio-visual data and accessing on-line information. Once costly and distinct broadcasting services, on-line data transfer and voice telephony are becoming more and more available for home user.
Also new devices are being invented to offer new convergent services. For example, we are able now to watch television on the Internet, or have Internet services on our TV set, or use the Internet for voice telephony. We can also have e-mail and access to the Web via digital TV decoders and mobile telephones. Telecommunications, media and information technology companies are using the flexibility of digital technologies to offer services outside their traditional business sectors and on a global scale. The Internet phenomenon is the most obvious product of this convergence. Over the last decade, it has grown at phenomenal rates due to its capability to offer interactive communications in every possible form; text, picture, voice and sound. Traditional communications networks as radio and television have been one-way only while those that were interactive like telephone have had limited functions. The interactivity and global nature of the Internet has made it a powerful medium for the quick, reliable and inexpensive global exchange of information and explains its phenomenal growth.
Traditional communications media were, not only, separate and operated on different networks; they also were regulated by different laws and different regulators, and of course at a national level. Most current regulations originated at a time when distinctions between sectors were clear. Moreover, they have a national focus, which is increasingly inappropriate as the services market becomes international. In other words, existing regulatory frameworks having been defined for a national, analogue and mono-media environment are now inadequate to deal with the present global, digital and multi-media environment. In the name of achievement of public interest objectives, antiquated rules and differing national regulations hamper the creation of new services and markets, and give rise to barriers to the free flow of information and global exchange of ideas. The need for an adequate regulatory framework at an international level is obvious.
Some time ago, the European Commission launched a Europe-wide debate on the convergence phenomenon as an input to communication policy formulation. In December 1997, the Commission published the Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors and invited all interested parties to contribute to the debate by responding to a number of questions and by making any submissions, they wished on the subject. If we read the Commission’s report on this public consultation which was published five months later, we will have all the answers to the questions of our topic because the identity of the participants and the central issues in this debate give us a clear view of what the different interested parties are and how they understand the current problems of media policy and regulation. All the various interests are reflected in the comments and suggestions sent to the Commission as a response to its initiative.
Technology and market forces made it possible for the individual consumer to have the information and entertainment of his choice at affordable cost. Consumer’s current concerns have to do with:
- the cost of on-line services which is dependent on the pricing policies of national telephone companies
- liability in electronic commerce and other on-line services
- data protection
- security of electronic transactions
- dispute resolution, that is they need a clear framework for jurisdiction in relation to on-line services provided from outside their country
- involvement of consumers in drawing up standards
The above issues are also the concern of the commercial and industrial players who need to be able to transact in a safe environment with assurance that the terms of the transactions will be fulfilled and with comfort that no nation will impose unreasonable burden in the form of taxes or duties and tariffs. This pursuit of similar goals is explained by the fact that technology and the Internet in particular have made the individual both a consumer and a producer of information and services. Therefore, everybody is interested in having safe on-line transactions, as either a buyer or a seller.
On the part of the content providers, such as publishers and film, music and TV producers, issues associated with acquisition of copyright, access to networks, and freedom of advertising and freedom of speech are their main concerns. Current copyright acquisition is complex and good protection of intellectual property is not ensured. Their products are in most cases collective works, which result from the collaboration between a series of creators , such as writers, composers, graphic designers, programmers, artists etc. and acquisition and management of all these rights is time taking and costly. Moreover, the creators are not protected against theft of their intellectual property due to differing copyright legislation in the different countries or even lack of copyright laws in some countries. Both content providers and creators ask an international copyright law to conform to the current needs and provide sufficient intellectual property rights protection in a flexible manner and at acceptable cost. Another problem for content providers is the current content regulation, which imposes restrictions on the ground of achievement of public interest goals and restrictions in advertising and informing consumers about their products. They support the view that content should not be regulated because there already exist self-regulatory bodies like the Press Complain Committee, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel which are more effective in ensuring that truthfulness and decency prevail in the media than a direct government intervention. Content providers ask also free access to networks and they view the current licensing procedures as barriers. According to their comment, ‘such procedures should only exist in exceptional circumstances where absolutely necessary to ensure clearly defined objectives or where linked to the allocation of scarce resources’.
Licensing is also a problem for content carriers, such as broadcasters and telecommunications operators but these are primarily concerned with the award of frequency spectrum. The rapidly increasing demand for radio-spectrum from new digital services makes necessary the allocation of additional spectrum. However, the awarding authorities are not independent from actors in the sector and there is no transparency in the allocation procedures. Another problem is the excessive fees charged for spectrum which in most cases is motivated by national budgetary considerations rather than by the concern of spectrum efficiency. In addition, commercial broadcasters and telecommunications operators have to face unfair competition from public broadcasters who have commercial activities besides being publicly funded.
The nature of the problems of those interested parties, which are, at present, responsible for regulation, that is, the national governments and the national regulatory authorities, is completely different. They are concerned with how to control the whole situation and with continuing to have a role in media policy and regulation. Unfortunately, for them, the global nature of today’s communication puts its control out of the hands of any single government. The best thing is for them to realize the futility of national regulation of a global phenomenon and help in the creation of a truly global village.
Major Record Labels are constantly dealing with issues of piracy and copyrighting. Of course, they do not reveal the technological secrets they are using, but there are some guessing that they have somehow corrupted the table of content of the certain CDs. They have also used the technologies that focus on setting up deliberate errors on CD media. The traditional cd players can overlook those errors, but CD-ROMS would not cope with them.
The idea of the systems like that to be perfectly playable by the standard consumer cd players but stop working on computer cd-roms. The idea is not very advanced, and can be easily cracked or worked around. All you need is standard CD-Player with a digital output (SPDIF). You can hook up the source (traditional player) to your pc soundcard, which will then enable you to transfer the digital data to your pc and share it in any format you would like, for example MP3. This way you can eliminate the protection on CDs. I will require some work, but you will end up with the same result if it was just a regular CD.
The technology is aimed to be convenient for the consumer, but since it is not a security mechanism, this is likely to backfire in the future against the record companies themselves. There are some people that are using CD-Roms to listen to all of their music. When they buy a CD and find out that is not playable, they will just go to the Internet and download the music they have already paid for. In a long run, this technology can convince people to forget buying CD’s that are unplayable and just take music of Internet at all times.
And experienced hacker meanwhile can just take apart those CD’s and figure out the algorithm’s of work and so use it later to simplify the process of cracking. There are a number of companies, which are trying to sell various kinds of audio and video protection technologies. In addition, none of them works. They are selling products that are simply flawed. It is simply a matter of time. One protection technology will be broken, then the next one, and the next one – and so on.
At some point, they will realize that this is not the way the world is going to work, and they are going to be forced to design a business model in which they can still make money in the presence of people being able to easily copy their music. If they do not redesign how the industry makes money then they have deep problems.