The wild popularity of obtaining digital media online has resulted in the creation of legal, online distributors of copyrighted material - with enormously successful results. In 2003 and 2004, legitimate online music distributors such as “iTunes, Rhapsody, Music-Match, BuyMusic, Wippit, OD2, Sony Connect, Wal-Mart Music Downloads, and a new version of Napster” were all launched. Of course, these programs have spawned out of the enormous demand for downloadable, online music – and these programs have been served as a legitimate solution to the legal problems surrounding P2P file-sharing. iTunes has delivered the strongest showing thus far in the battle between legitimate online media distributors. Unfortunately for the legitimate distributors, however, is they offer less than 1 percent of the available music catalog worldwide; estimated at 50 million songs. This cannot compare with the available catalog of songs on various P2P networks. Also, the cost of buying a song on a legitimate distributor is still much too high; at a dollar a song, and with gigabytes of storage space on a typical iPod, it could cost thousands of dollars to fill with songs. To quote Nobuyuki Idei (Chairman of Sony Corporation, 2002):
“[The record labels] have to change their mind-set away from selling albums and think about selling singles over the Internet for as cheap as possible – even at 20 cents or 10 cents – and encouraging file-sharing, so they can also get micro-payments for these files. The music industry has to reinvent itself; we can no longer control distribution the way we used to.”
This is indicative of the impact that file-sharing has had on the record companies. As Idei said, the record industries must encourage file-sharing, because they can no longer control music distribution the way they used to. All this, because of internet file-sharing!
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