When it comes to legal action over downloaded music, the defendants are often individuals: The lone user downloads one too many copyrighted files and Big Media goes on the offensive. But now, the little guy is turning the tables. A fresh crop of lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals argue that it’s the big companies that are ripping off the consumer….Consumers have long complained that legally purchased songs cannot be played on all their devices in part because of restrictions on the number of devices that can hold a license for a song at any one time. Traditionally, the record labels and download services have argued that the restrictions are necessary to combat piracy and ensure artists are compensated. Seeing few alternatives, many music lovers have begrudgingly accepted this answer—or opted for illegal downloading.
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As even digital music revenue growth falters because of rampant file-sharing by consumers, the major record labels are moving closer to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions — a step they once vowed never to take.
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With global music sales down for a seventh straight year, the talk at an annual industry meeting in Cannes, France, has become heated over how to develop digital sales against competition from the dreaded F word — free.
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Everyone knows the MP3 format is used by more devices and people than any other file-based digital-audio format. Most also know that record labels prefer DRMed alternatives such as the ones sold by Apple’s iTunes, because they make it harder for people to share music. But wait — was that a pig flying past my window just now? Evidence is mounting that major labels may start to prefer the MP3 format, as impossible as that used to seem.
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