washingtonpost.com  > Opinion > Letters to the Editor

File Sharing Isn't Theft

Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A22

The March 30 editorial on file sharing, "Not an iPod," misjudged the issue.

First, file sharing is not theft. Unlike shoplifting, to which it often is compared, file sharing deprives no party of property. It does not involve piracy -- no party assumes profits that rightfully belong to another because there are no profits to speak of.

_____What's Your Opinion?_____
Message Boards Share Your Views About Editorials and Opinion Pieces on Our Message Boards
About Message Boards

File sharing is a technological advance that allows for the costless worldwide distribution of digital media. By eliminating the distribution costs, it makes the world and everyone in it wealthier by enriching people's lives with music and other forms of entertainment.

Second, file sharing will not bankrupt artists, record companies or movie studios. These folks will continue to receive royalties from radio play, live performances and cinema presentations. In addition, music consumers desire not just music. They also want pictures of their favorite artists, album art, lyric sheets, etc. Thus, file sharing does not spell the doom of an industry, merely the doom of a particular business model.

Record companies and movie studios artificially inflate the cost of distribution by enforcing their copyright monopoly on distribution. This monopoly is a gift from the government that is now contrary to the public good.

Technology changes, and industry and law must change with it. File sharing can increase the amount of music and art in people's lives. I hope that the Supreme Court is not as myopic and chained to the status quo as The Post's editorial board.



© 2005 The Washington Post Company