Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Valerie Alter


When a new technology enters the entertainment market, incumbents may look backwards rather than forwards. Today, peer-to-peer file sharing services enable users to get the weekly chart-toppers for free by downloading desired songs, depriving the record companies of their rightful royalties. The record companies fear that this free online peer-topeer systems will mean the end of the recording industry. In response, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has begun to prosecute individual users, including a 12-year-old girl. However, this approach is problematic, and there are two other potential solutions that may be preferable. First, the recording industry could abandon its attempt to prevent digital piracy. As such, it could accept file sharing as a permanent reality and so shift its focus away from CD sales as a means of generating revenue, looking instead to offering supplemental merchandise or services. Alternatively, the RIAA could develop its own cost-free sampling program, akin to a digital music public library.