MP3 – the great download the debate

For the past decade the music industry has been concerned with free distribution and downloading of MP3 files on the internet, especially on peer-to-peer sites that share folders among its members. The first many heard of this was when Metallica took Napster to court in 2000 when they discovered that a demo of their song ‘I Disappear’ had been circulating across the Napster network, and eventually turned up being played on radio stations even before its release.

But the major issue facing the global music industry for the past few years has been the debate whether to add locking to MP3 music files with DRM (Digital Rights Management).

Last month, Amazon announced the launch of a digital music store selling DRM-free tracks, allowing customers to play their downloaded music on any device. This move was is in direct competition with Apple, whose iTunes stores is the leading digital music retailer, and includes DRM on all its MP3’s.

DRM is a code that restricts how files can be played and shared. Tracks with DRM can typically only be played on the device that they were first downloaded to.

Other players in the market, such as the American superstore giants, Wal-Mart and Universal Music have used the debate to their advantage by selling DRM-free tracks. With Amazon’s new store, the industry is firmly divided into those selling downloads with DRM and those opposed to DRM.