In a long-overdue move, several of the Uk’s biggest net providers – among them British Telecom, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse – have signed up to a deal proposed by the UK government and the music industry to help tackle piracy online.
Hundreds of thousands of letters will be sent to net users suspected of illegally downloading music. Hardcore file-sharers could see their broadband connections slowed and will ultimately face the threat of legal action.
It has taken years for ISPs to adopt this view and it could be argued that such measures are too little too late, but it is at least a start.
I would ask everyone to bear in mind that the argument usually put forward by illegal downloaders that the major record companies are not financially affected to any substantial degree by such activity is a moot point; but more importantly, that music piracy hurts independent musicians and artists, too. These are the people who will suffer the largest detrimental effects, and without them, the production of truly great music will eventually grind to a very unwelcome halt.
All Big Arena Records’ releases are available without any form of copy protection software.
We believe that the abolition of such software – known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) – is good for both consumers, artists and music suppliers.
Major record companies are afraid of ‘leakage’ where one person illegally copies a track for somebody else. This problem will pale into insignificance however compared to the massive extra sales that will be generated when people feel free to use their purchases in any way they want for their own personal musical pleasure.
Even Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple, has today urged the world’s record companies to begin selling songs online without DRM. Apple has been under pressure recently to make its iTunes music store compatible with other music players, not just the iPod.
I am all for the universal protection of artists’ rights and believe any copyright offense should be dealt with stringently, but the fact remains that DRM copy protection has simply failed to tackle music piracy. (Any pirate can take the audio output of a CD player and convert the signal to MP3, whether or not the CD has DRM. And Apple’s FairPlay system was cracked almost the moment it came out.)
When major companies insist on locking up your digital media, it interferes with fans’ perfectly lawful use of music, movies and other copyrighted works: it can prevent you from making backups of your music downloaded from online stores, recording your favourite TV programmes or using the portable media player of your choice. And that is what it really is all about: your choice.
I am in no doubt whatsoever that the current restrictions that are in place are only harming music and its creators – a lot more than they are helping.
Ashley Morgan of Big Arena says ‘We believe that once you have purchased an album or a track you should be able to freely copy that album or track to other devices that you own. It is in an artist’s best interest that his or her music be heard as often as possible.’
I agree with you unreservedly, Mr. Morgan.