By Ron VandenBoom
Controversial by nature, the use of the Internet continues to confuse some, enlighten many and without fail anger others.
The latest victims of the Internet wars seems to be the music industry and the ever increasing impact Mp3s are having on record sales. Or so claims the industry.
For those who dont know, Mp3 are the hottest Internet music ticket in town.
Want to download free music from the latest and newest pop groups, country groups, and rock and roll groups? Maybe your brand is reggae or classical music it really doesnt matter, it is all available, its all free, and its all in perfectly reproducible digital format.
Entire record albums can be downloaded to your home computer with the click of a mouse and the quality is no different than the CDs you are currently paying $16.95 for at the local music store.
So whats the catch. Well currently there isnt one at least not to the consumer, and so too it appears to many of the musicians. But the record industry is fit to be tied.
According to record company officials, of the $16.95 you pay for the CD only 84.75 cents is profit for them. The rest of the CDs cost is spent for recording, distributing, paying royalties, and manufacturing the CD, with only 5 percent left over for profit.
Unfortunately for them offering free music over the Internet cuts into already dwindling profits and infringes on copyright laws.
Is there truth in the industries arguments? The answer depends on who you are and what kind of an arrangement exists between you and the record company.
Ever since the beginning of recorded music, record companies have entered into contractual arrangements with musicians. In most cases the musicians receive royalties for each record sold but retained ownership of the songs they recorded.
This meant the record companies could continue to distribute the musicians music but the musician was free to sell the music to other bidders for movie soundtracks, toys, sheet music, or even TV commercials.
Enter the Internet. What happens when musicians even musicians who are under contract to record companies, decide to post their latest material on the World Wide Web cutting the company out of the loop?
Hence the anger. Many artists are doing just that. It is especially true of new artists who have not yet been able to land the lucrative record deals.
Perhaps the most popular Mp3 site is Mp3.com a site where dozens of genres and thousands of full length albums are available for download.
While many of the artists are new and have never had the big money record deals, many others are well established in the industry and are now making their music available for free and for sale over the Internet.
Unfortunately while it may be perfectly legal for musicians to post their own music on the Internet, it does not necessarily follow that all music is legally posted on the Internet.
If I decide to post a CD I bought downtown to the Internet without the permission of the artist, the argument can be made that I am violating copyright laws.
I have received no permission from the artist to distribute their music and buying their CD only gave me the right to use it for my own entertainment not the entertainment of others.
Most music you find on the Web is legal and if that hurts the record industry, so be it.
Most new artists have found the Web a blessing in that now their music can be enjoyed and their name made popular without the power of record companies becoming involved.
My opinion is simple. Allow freedom on the Web, by keeping it legal.
Feel free to enjoy whats available, but avoid what is not legal. And keep your record collection in the cupboard where it belongs.