Can the RIAA Make Peace With P2P File Sharing if it Generates Artist Revenue?

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MP3 Rocket’s latest software release adds multiple purchasing options for obtaining songs, CDs, concert tickets, ringtones and more, and becomes the first application for file sharing to provide instant access to song lyrics.

MP3 Rocket users get additional purchasing and content options, including song lyrics.

Our focus on innovation and value continues to drive our product development and the quality of our users’ experience, which we believe is an industry-best. But our effort to incorporate purchasing options has tremendous potential for the music industry. It’s a starting point to begin channeling revenue towards copyright owners.

By adding multiple purchasing options to its latest release, P2P software-maker MP3 Rocket is helping to bridge the gap between free music file sharing and financial compensation for artists. Starting with version 5.3.5, the software also features user experience improvements such as live chat rooms and one-click access to song lyrics—the industry’s first file-sharing client to incorporate this feature.

“There are big issues at play in this latest release,” said Paschal Rousseau, an MP3 Rocket developer. “Our focus on innovation and value continues to drive our product development and the quality of our users’ experience, which we believe is an industry-best. But our effort to incorporate purchasing options has tremendous potential for the music industry. It’s a starting point to begin channeling revenue towards copyright owners.”

The recording industry has been reeling ever since Shawn Fanning created the first-of-its-kind file-sharing and download software service called Napster in 1999. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) successfully shut down the original Napster by way of court order in 2001 (239 F.3d 1004, Ninth Circuit), and has been aggressively pursuing various lawsuit and crackdown strategies ever since (see the Wired story and more recent actions). The campaign has even included high-profile jury trials and verdicts against individual music consumers, most notably a $1.92M judgment in June 2009 against a single mother from Minnesota who downloaded 24 songs (0:2006cv01497, Minnesota District Court).

However, the various approaches by the RIAA and others have been painfully unsuccessful at slowing peer-to-peer’s exponential growth and file sharing continues to reach unprecedented numbers. Cisco published a white paper in June 2009 that stated that at the end of 2008 file sharing accounted for 50 percent of all global consumer Internet traffic (see the full Cisco report). Looking forward, in Table 5 of the same report Cisco also predicts that global consumer file-sharing traffic on the Internet will continue to grow at an average of 24 percent each year through 2013.

“We respect the enormous challenges the music industry is facing,” said Rousseau. “It's not easy to protect a revenue base coming from content when digitization is changing the fundamental ways that customers are interacting with and consuming it—just look at what’s happening to newspapers for instance.”

Making money in the digital world requires new strategies that embrace how music consumers are now able to search, discover and share, he said. “We believe that technology companies such as MP3 Rocket can collaborate with record labels and publishers to build and deploy services that this rising generation of consumers will embrace. A big step in this direction is the new purchasing features that we’ve just released.”

When a user conducts a search for their favorite artist in the latest version of MP3 Rocket, the search results include a new “Downloads” column with a hyperlink entitled “More.” When the link is clicked a window is generated that provides a host of new options including “Song Lyrics,” “Buy This Song,” “Get This CD,” “Get Ringtones” and “Find Live Concerts.” With one click the user is directed instantly to the purchase or content option that they’ve selected.

In the few days since the new functionality was released, Paschal said MP3 Rocket users have begun purchasing music and “the numbers are promising. Our users are proving that music lovers want to support the artists they listen to.”

Paschal says MP3 Rocket users initiate millions of searches every month. “That's a lot of opportunities to reach music fans with the right offerings. We have a unique window available to help the music industry build a new future of file sharing that compensates rights holders while maintaining the characteristics of technology and community that make P2P so compelling to users.”

About MP3 Rocket:

MP3 Rocket is the premier technology for downloading, file sharing and streaming free music, movies, torrents, music videos, games, TV shows and other content. The software supports both Gnutella and BitTorrent download protocols, as well as live video and streaming music. The most recent version of MP3 Rocket is available as a free download at http://www.mp3rocket.com.

Contact:
MP3 Rocket
Phone 416-981-3135

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Paschal Rousseau
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