Since the birth of Napster in 1999, the entertainment industry has cracked down on illegal file sharing. Lawsuits were fired from all angles at the file-sharing software in an attempt to stop the pirating. Napster was ultimately shut down. Kazaa, the file-sharing software from Sharman Networks, emerged in Napster’s wake. Again, the pirating and lawsuits ensued. This time, the record companies got personal and began to file individual lawsuits against actual users of the software. In the latest twist to this legal soap opera, Kazaa, along with its partner, the digital media company Altnet, has filed a countersuit against the entertainment industry citing antitrust and copyright infringement. The question is no longer who is breaking what law but rather when will the legal battles stop?
Yes, the music and movie industries should earn money from products they produce. But at the same time, when 12-year-olds are being fined thousands of dollars while they live in public housing, it needs to be recognized that suing the very person who should be your customer in the first place is ridiculous.
Both sides of the cases have made substantial efforts outside of suing one another toward ending acts of piracy.
Universal records will significantly lower the price of its artists’ albums in October. Apple Music iTunes along with BuyMusic.com are a few of the Web sites that have emerged to sell individual artist tracks as well as select albums for a lower price.
Last year, along with Altnet, Sharman began selling protected pay content on its Web site. The intention was to combine forces with the record and movie companies by giving them a share of the profit earned from the various downloads. But, according to Sharman’s most recent countersuit, executives at large corporations like Time Warner and Universal backed out of Kazaa’s effort at the last minute, seemingly in an attempt to monopolize the digital media industry and put file-sharing companies out of business.
So until a comfortable middle ground can be reached, the lawsuits will continue from both parties. The attempts made thus far have been a good start, but apparently not satisfying enough to either end. Hopefully a compromise can be reached in order to avoid further lawsuits aimed at the users. Then the focus can return to music and other content, rather than the means of obtaining it.