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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

LABJ FORUM: Someone May Be Watching

LABJ FORUM: Someone May Be Watching

Napster may have been forced out of business, but new user-based file swapping services keep popping up. Some see users of these services as thieves whose actions could lead to the collapse of the music industry. Others either don’t understand the harm or don’t care. Now, even the courts seem divided over the limits such activity can be regulated. So the Business Journal asks:

Do you think people who swap music files online should be prosecuted?

Jack McConaghy


Fulbright & Jaworski LLP

It appears the technology has outstripped the law in this area. And the law is trying to keep up and catch up. In terms of going after end users instead of just the people running the sites, I don’t know what you could expect to get out of them, especially if they’re not making any money off of it. And then there’s the bad will you’re creating. No one likes to be sued.

David Leiman

Vice President, Licensing

Delicious Vinyl

Prosecuting users is a short-term thing just to scare people. But it will take too many resources to go after each individual user, so they’ll have to go after service providers or people who make money off of file sharing. The only way they can battle file sharing is with competitive services. You need to be able to go into a digital store and buy what you want and burn it. The Apple iStore is selling songs at 99 cents a track. They had like a million hits.

George Nunes

Vice President Video, Music and Product

NBC Enterprises

The door is open and the cat’s out of the bag. To go after the end-user, the college kid in his dorm or my 16-year-old kid online who can get this stuff for free, is a total waste of time and resources. The only reason they’re doing it is to make an example. That mindset is a fallacy. I have an Apple iPod and I’ve already downloaded 20 songs at 99 cents each. It’s a brilliant model. Apple is saying, we’re going to give you something you’ll have to pay for, but it’s a fast download, the quality will be good, it’s got rights anagement and everyone, including the artist, will get paid.

Michael Nieves

Managing Director


I represent artists as well as labels. I don’t think the RIAA should be suing college kids. The major record companies’ way of dealing with file sharing has been litigating people out of existence. They’re trying to scare people, but it’ll never work. It’s like trying to cover the sky with your hands. They’re just beginning to give people what they want music online in a downloadable, cheap and user-friendly format. The file sharing people created the market for the record companies.

John Baldrica


UCLA Extension Department of Arts/Visual Arts

This technology should continue to be embraced by creative people trying to reach a larger audience without the arbitrary filters of big business. At some point, you have to give record companies some protection and let them profit from what they’ve done.

Shawn Conahan


Moviso LLC

I don’t think the music industry is happy about prosecuting college kids for doing something that feels like sharing to them, but if there were some other recourse, they would be pursuing it instead.

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