File-sharing debate continues

Students should know better than to be using music file-sharing programs on university networks. After the drawn-out Napster saga and the recent lawsuits filed against students at Princeton University and two other schools, it is clear the Record Industry Association of America is watching.

Arguments for file-sharing, however, are not without merit.

The record industry has yet to figure out how best to use Internet technology for music distribution, and prices for CDs can be prohibitive. Major labels need to figure out how to sell music via the Internet. Labels can sell music at a lower price online with lower overhead and make more money. The music giants, however, are slow to change.

Until music distribution evolves to make inexpensive Internet distribution practical for both sellers and users, file sharing remains a tempting alternative.

Users of such programs need to realize that unauthorized use of recordings is a violation not only of label rights, but also of artist rights. Artists deserve royalties for their creations, and file sharing deprives them of earned income.

The RIAA has every right to sue students it catches using college computer networks for piracy. A maximum of $150,000 per song, however, seems excessive.

Both students and labels need to exercise more restraint in the ongoing file-sharing argument. Conflicts are inevitable as the music industry finds itself in transition, but piracy and lawsuits are not the ways to go about enjoying and distributing music.

University Wire — U. Southern California.