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Ronan Chris Murphy is one of the most sought-after record producers in the USA. Known to be a musician’s producer, his credits include King Crimson, Steve Morse, Tony Levin, Terry Bozio, Chucho Valdes and Stevie Stevens. He produced singer songwriter Pete Teo’s upcoming debut solo record ‘Rustic Living For Urbanites’. Options2 invites him to discuss music piracy.

In Options2 – The Edge

The issue of music piracy, or the theft of intellectual property in general, is a difficult one to speak about with moral authority, as there are few among us who have never copied an album onto cassette for a friend or watched a copied videocassette. The ease of which it has been possible to copy music has been taken for granted for generations now, but the scale and rate of growth in piracy need not be argued in moralistic terms but in simple logistic terms. The current trends in music piracy will have severely damaging effects on the development of new talent, product and their related economies. Without some change in this trend it may spell the end of companies and individuals being able to profit from recorded music.

Piracy of audio recordings has its roots in the cassette market and evolved into a CD market with the advent of low cost CD recording media and equipment. This illegal market for physical copies of recorded music proliferated in many parts of Asia, but remained fairly contained and much criticized in most of the Western world for years. The growth of the Internet and the development of ìfile sharingî technologies, which have allowed computer users to make copies of, and distribute recorded music without the consent or control of the copyright holders, have made the plague of piracy a global issue of staggering proportions.

No one could have predicted the impact of an 18 year old college drop out named Shawn Fanning introducing a computer program called Napster, that would allow any computer user with an internet connection to access other user’s files and copy them; the exchange of music files being the most obvious and popular uses. It was June 1, 1999 when Fanning distributed 30 test copies of Napster to friends and asked them not to tell anyone about it. They told; and within days there were over 4,000 users. By the end of 1999, 20 million users were using the service to illegally swap music on the Internet. In 2001, music sales in the US fell 5% and in 2002 fell an additional 9%.

In the beginning, the online exchange of recorded music was quite limited, as the public at large was not familiar with the technology, the amount of time required to copy a recording was excessive, and the audio quality of such transmitted music was low. But Internet access speeds and encoding quality are both rapidly increasing. While the most popular format for exchanging copies of music on line