It is Sunday afternoon and you’re one of many students slowly filtering back into the residence halls. Upon your return, you sit down and open your two most important computer programs – iTunes and Thefacebook. Before the start of school, you barely had any music, but now you can listen to about 22,000 songs between the 33 other users in your vicinity currently sharing their music on iTunes while looking through the profiles of your 324 “friends.”
How is it possible to have such a large selection of free music to listen to? The feat can be accomplished by myTunes Redux, a free program available on the Internet. It is necessary to have Apple’s iTunes downloaded first, but with these two programs working in tandem you may never need to buy a CD again.
The Recording Industry Association of America has sued thousands of people for illegally downloading and distributing music through programs such as Napster and Kazaa. The program myTunes only recognizes music of those in the same area, as opposed to the nationwide file-sharing programs. But the mix of college campuses and the growing prevalence of myTunes should be the RIAA’s biggest nightmare.
The point of iTunes is to buy music – at an average price of 99 cents – from the iTunes music store, which still means profit for the music industry. So even if myTunes is not illegal, the purpose of it still conflicts with the idea of iTunes. If a person buys a song on iTunes legally, anyone who is in the vicinity of the person who bought the song – as long as the person is sharing his or her music – will be able to download it for free through myTunes, which puts musicians at a disadvantage.
Living in a house, myTunes may not retrieve anyone’s music, but in Peabody Hall for instance, there are 21,701 songs available on a Sunday afternoon that can be publicly listed and traded. When downloading music from myTunes, it is still stealing music from others and is still hurting music sales – the RIAA’s biggest concern. If downloading music on Kazaa is illegal, then downloading music on myTunes should also be outlawed.
According to the myTunes Web site, “myTunes Redux is a program that allows you to download music made available by iTunes.” Before being able to download myTunes, the downloader must accept an agreement saying he or she will not use the program for anything illegal, which likely never happens. MyTunes, therefore, operates as a freerider – one person or one group of people do work or pay to get something done, and everyone else gets the benefits for free.
The latest edition of iTunes, version 4.7, puts a limit on the amount of people who can listen to one person’s music in a 24-hour span, and that person’s songs will not be available on myTunes. But there are still so many other songs to choose from, and since many people download music from each other, many of the songs not available from one person can be easily retrieved from someone else.
Last year, RIAA President Cary Sherman said, “The message to illegal file sharers should be as clear as ever – we can and will continue to bring lawsuits on a regular basis against those who illegally distribute copyrighted music.”
In a world where people are constantly searching for the easiest and least expensive ways to get things done, this act of piracy does not look like it will slow down unless the RIAA and the rest of the music industry is able to come up with a better way to prevent yet another form of music sharing.
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at The.Jeff@temple.edu.