[FoRK] NY Times on the free *and* legal and *good* message

Lucas Gonze lgonze at panix.com
Fri Sep 10 09:23:30 PDT 2004


No Fears: Laptop D.J.'s Have a Feast

OWNLOADING music from the Internet is not illegal. Plenty of music 
available online is not just free but also easily available, legal and 
most important  worth hearing.

That fact may come as a surprise after highly publicized lawsuits by the 
Recording Industry Association of America, representing major labels, 
against fans using peer-to-peer programs like Grokster and EDonkey to 
collect music on the Web. But the fine print of those lawsuits makes clear 
that fans are being sued not for downloading but for unauthorized 
distribution: leaving music in a shared folder for other peer-to-peer 
users to take. As copyright holders, the labels have the exclusive legal 
right to distribute the music recorded for them, even if technology now 
makes that right nearly impossible to enforce.

Recording companies have tried and failed to shut down decentralized 
file-sharing networks the way they closed the original Napster. (That name 
is now being used for a paid-download service.)

Courts have ruled that the services can continue because they are also 
used to exchange material that does not infringe on recording-company 
copyrights. At the same time, a bill before Congress, the Inducing 
Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004, seeks to restrict the way 
file-sharing programs are constructed.

While the recording business litigates and lobbies over music being given 
away online, countless musicians are taking advantage of the Internet to 
get their music heard. They are betting that if they give away a song or 
two, they will build audiences, promote live shows and sell more 

As with the rest of the free content on the Internet, there's no 
guaranteed quality control. Lucas Gonze, whose webjay.org lets music fans 
post playlists that connect to free music and video, describes free 
Internet music as "a flea market the size of Valhalla."

More information about the FoRK mailing list