File-Sharing Battle Leaves Musicians Caught in Middle

Since the Recording Industry Association of America began its campaign against file-sharing services and unauthorized song swapping online in 1999, it has offered one chief justification for its actions: downloading songs is stealing money from the pockets of musicians. But the musicians themselves have conflicted responses to file sharing and the tactics of the association, a trade group that represents record labels, not the musicians themselves, who have no organization that wields equal power.

So, many musicians have found themselves watching helplessly from the sidelines as the recording industry has begun suing people who are their fans, their audience and their consumers — who also share music online without authorization. Last week, 261 lawsuits were filed, the first battle in what the association says will be a long campaign of litigation against the most active music fans sharing songs on services like KaZaA. "On one hand, the whole thing is pretty sick," said John McCrea, a singer and songwriter in the rock band Cake. "On the other hand, I think it'll probably work."

News source: The New York Times

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