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The controversy about the freedom of music existed from the beginning of music distribution on the Internet. It can take place in the context of the fight against DRM (Digital Right Management), the struggle with record companies and anti-modern understanding of copyright law in general.

It is an ordinary process nowadays to download music from the Internet. Music can go to the user in two ways: through the acquisition of audio files and by listening to online resources without access to the file. The first company that was engaged in distributing music in MP3 has become an American Sub Pop in 1999.

In the same year, another event that had major impact on the further sale of music over the Internet happened.  The new music service Napster appeared. Launched in June 1999, it allowed sharing music over the Internet by installing free software. Convenient interface and a focus on the transfer of MP3 files contributed its popularity. There were more than 20 million users in September 2000; this fact made the record companies to pay attention to Napster.

The attempts to negotiate with Napster have failed and finally, in 2001, Napster was closed. Internet has been accused in the collapse of the music label industry. “Survey results show there is no strong consensus regarding the impact of online file-sharing on artists. Of those surveyed, 35% agreed that file-sharing services are not bad for artists because they help promote and distribute the work of the artists, 23% agreed that file sharing services are bad for artists because the work of the artists can copied without permission or payment, while 35% of those surveyed actually agreed with both of the foregoing statements.

On the wave of consumer dissatisfaction with the ideology of Internet sales, as well as the growing discontent of musicians complaining of loss of income from the sale of their music, the search for new schemes of distribution of music content was continued. In October 2007 the British band Radiohead released the album In Rainbows by the new scheme, which was greeted by consumers enthusiastically. Without the contract with the music label, the band posted the album on its website and welcomed the interested people to download it, paying as much as they want. The musicians called their scheme “Pay what you want». The front man Thom Yorke explained his decision by the frustration of music label and respect for the audience.

There are two diametrically opposing views among the musicians: some of them insist on the impossibility of making music, without having a decent reward, others more concerned about accessibility of their products. For example, Prince refuses to distribute his music on the Internet, explaining that he understands no reason to do so.

There exists dissatisfaction of many musicians by label politics, according to which the performer receives only a small portion of the profits. In order to solve the problem, British musicians formed a Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), which deals with the returning for musicians the rights on their own music; it includes such well-known artists like Radiohead, The Verve, Gang of Four, Iron Maiden, Kaiser Chiefs, David Gilmour, Peter Hammill, Robbie Williams, Craig David and Kate Nash.

Punishing people for listening to music is definitely the wrong way to protect the music business. It seems that the labels have decided to act with the audience on a «it is better to get people to fear than to respect” principle. This is not the business model that consumers will like. It is better to act on a “to be loved and to help musicians to make a good record, selling them at a reasonable price” principle. Unfortunately any music lover can be punished for his attempt to listen to music. Many of the people that download are not film geeks, are not nerds. They are ordinary people and for them, as long as it’s possible, they do it. Free access to the files is like the thread that connects the listener with the favorite music.

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