Decriminalize File Sharing

We, the undersigned, petition all lawmakers, recording industry executives, and others in politics or the music industry to recognize that swapping music files via the internet deserves to be recognized as an activity which deserves legal protection. The author of this petition, a musician, encourages other musicians to sign this petition and send the RIAA the message that, as a community of artists, we do not feel that our livelihood is threatened by the practice of file-swapping. In fact, the more that music can be made freely available the more we benefit as musicians by learning from one another\'s work. For the purposes of this petition, the terms \"file-sharing\" and \"file-swapping\" refer mostly to the exchange of music files via the internet, and do not apply to the exchange of software or reproductions of printed material. All signers of this petition recognize that: 1. The definition of \"Intellectual Property\" is in need of revision. Royalties earned through the distribution of musical recordings are a privilege bestowed upon artists by a capitalist system, not a right which should be guaranteed by law. 2. The increasingly widespread occurence of file-sharing is not a sign that consumers are increasingly corrupt, but is rather a sign that the music industry should be adapting to new consumer needs. 3. File-sharing is beneficial to working-class musicians, who utilize the technology for research and education. 4. The recording industry operates for the benefit of the consumer, and not vice versa. 5. The album-based paradigm of music distribution deserves reconsideration. 6. There are a variety of means by which the recording industry could reap revenue from the file-sharing phenomenon, the best of which are unexplored (e.g., surcharges for blank CD\'s or prohibition of free client programs). 7. Contrary to claims made by those opposed to file-sharing, it is quite difficult for the average consumer to craft a truly faithful reproduction of an original CD, even with .mp3 technology and a fast internet connection. 8. There is no reason musicians are thought to deserve residual fees for the distribution of their work, other than the fact that it is an established custom. Other types of creative product, such as web site content and print journalism, do not earn money for their creators in a similar way. 9. Programs which offer music online for a fee (and are thus promoted as \"legal alternatives\") do not offer as wide a variety of music as that which is offered by free file-sharing programs. Furthermore, because a great deal of the music which is currently freely available has not been released for sale or is produced by amateur musicians, there will NEVER be an alternative which offers a greater variety of music. Efforts to produce any alternative to free file-sharing can only encourage an interest in mainstream music; such a practice makes criminals of those music fans with more eclectic tastes than the average radio listener. 10. The definition of file-swapping as \"stealing\" is an exaggeration. If a piece of music is intended to make money for the artist, then you can only be defined as \"stealing\" that music if you likewise intend to profit from it. For that reason, in spite of the points communicated in this petition, the undersigned do not in any way advocate plagiarism. 11. In short, file-sharing should be protected, not forbidden, by lawmakers; it should be embraced, not opposed, by the recording industry.

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