January 20, 2005 | By Donna Wentworth

The Year of Filesharing Legally

Our own Ren Bucholz makes the case this week in the San Francisco Bay Guardian that 2005 will be the Year of Filesharing Legally. Or rather, the year that drives home the benefit of making it so -- especially in light of the fact despite 7,000 + recording industry lawsuits, P2P traffic numbers are rising.

Why 2005?

1. The Supreme Court rules on P2P For better or worse, the biggest legal fight over file sharing will be finished by next Christmas. The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether makers of P2P software -- and by extension other technology makers -- are responsible for the sins of their customers. When its opinion comes down next fall, it will tell us what Napster's demise never did: whether or not it's legal to make and distribute file-sharing software. This won't stop the record labels from continuing to sue anything with a heartbeat and a DSL line, but that news will look silly next to the fact that ...

2. File sharing continues to soar The Recording Industry Association of America has sued more than 7,000 alleged file sharers since 2003, but P2P traffic has actually increased. By some counts, 60 million Americans have tried file sharing. New P2P programs are released faster than J.Lo can get engaged. There's no reason to think these trends won't continue or increase. The year 2005 will be the "best year ever" for P2P, and the medium's continued popularity means ...

3. Artists look for plan B When it becomes clear that the RIAA's slash-and-burn campaign hasn't stopped file sharing, musicians will start to wonder if there's a better way to move forward. Would it be possible to create a system in which P2P joins CD sales, concert revenues, and radio licenses as another way to pay the bills? The answer is yes, and the technology is finally available to make it happen. The trick is to make it feel free to the public while collecting money for creators.

Check out the full article online at the Guardian, and while you're at it, A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing, EFF's white paper on how to let the music pay.

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