Reading Passage 1-1
Impact of the Internet on Music
Today, it is common for people to get the music they enjoy by downloading it from the Internet. However, it was not always this way. Since Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877, people have used a variety of methods to listen to recorded music. Until recently, these methods mostly involved buying music as a product in the form of vinyl albums,* cassettes, or CDs. With the rise of the Internet, however, it has become easy to duplicate and distribute music as electronic files. But like many other technological breakthroughs, this has had both good and bad effects.
When the Internet first came into existence, many individuals joined networks where members agreed to share the music files stored in their home computers with other members. Since these networks attracted so many users, it has become possible to download almost any song free of charge. This system of file sharing gave netizens a way to come together and share the music they love with others. As a result, music artists and record companies have lost revenue they would have earned selling prepackaged recorded music and other related products.
The problem with this type of Internet file sharing is that it is illegal, being a form of theft. This is because the artist and the record company own the rights to the music they create and record. In order for someone to rightfully own a file containing protected music, one must pay for it. Otherwise, he or she is guilty of stealing it. In the U.S., people suspected of downloading copyrighted music illegally can be punished under the law. They are often forced to pay large fines or serve time in prison.
In some cases, popular artists are offering their work online for free to anyone interested in listening to it. They only ask people to pay what they think it is worth. In other instances, other online distributors offer songs for sale at a small price per-download. Using this method, people...