Before interning at a record company last summer, Kei Yagasaki ’06 said she saw free music downloading as harmless. But after listening to a “warning talk” from a Warner Music executive, Yagasaki said she began to see free downloading as stealing.
“Music is becoming more and more uniform as [record labels] are only making the music they know will sell,” Yagasaki said.
In the digital world of free downloads, movies, music files and sitcom episodes are only a click away. But, like Yagasaki, more Internet users — Yale students included — are opting out of downloading free media files in favor of alternative services, most recently including the Yale pilot program for certain legal downloads.
According to a study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project the number of Internet users who say they share media files or computer games dropped eight percent from June to November-December of last year.
Benjamin Pollack ’06 said he is not opposed to online per-song purchasing sites, such as Apple iTunes, but disapproves of free downloads.
“I feel very strongly about intellectual property rights because, as a computer science major, my future career will depend upon them,” Pollack said.
Pollack said he expects music studios will eventually profit by selling individual songs at a fixed cost, perhaps picking up the business model of movie rental establishments that rent out single movies.
Adia Hinds ’06 said she knows of peers who stopped using common free download sites, such as KaZaA and Morpheus, and began using alternatives out of fear of being tracked and penalized for uploading.
“People avoid having to download music sharing programs by getting music from their friends through Instant Messenger instead,” Hinds said.
Computer science major Adam Cushner ’04 said there is no risk associated with sharing a few files through the Yale Network because the recording industry is only going after users who upload files at large volumes.
“If you have music and you share it with someone else it’s probably illegal, but there is no way to find out or enforce the law,” Cushner said.
Music lawyers on Wednesday filed suits against 532 computer users for illegally sharing an average of 800 songs each over the Internet, the Associated Press reported. The suits are the largest number filed at one time since the Recording Industry Association of America last summer began suing users for large-scale illegal file sharing.
Shannon Stockdale ’06 said she stopped using KaZaA for fear of obtaining corrupted files, but still obtains free music by burning CDs.
“You can borrow a friend’s CD and use the copy-from-CD feature to get music files onto your computer while circumventing the downloading-from-a-network process,” she said.
One student, who declined to give his name for fear of prosecution by the RIAA, said he did not feel guilty about illegally downloading songs for free. He said the music industry already profits more than enough from consumers.
“I’m not worried about getting caught because I share a limited amount of songs to prevent myself from being prosecuted,” he said.
But students in film studies courses have a new way legally to upload movies through a Yale pilot program by Cflix, a company that provides a legal online sharing service. Since Yale implemented the program on Jan. 13, Yalies have been able to download videos uploaded by professors for free after registering for a course.
Film Study Center Director Michael Kerbel said the FSC loaned over 11,000 videos to students and faculty last year, but he thinks that number might change now that the Cflix pilot program has been implemented.
“Part of the idea of Cflix is to enable students to have access to music and entertainment,” Kerbel said.
Film studies major Austin Conroy ’05 said though he hopes Cflix will not replace screenings for his classes, he thinks the program will prove useful when it comes to writing papers and completing course assignments.
“I used it for my Hitchcock class,” he said. “It’s a more effective way to study films.”
Comparative literature and film studies professor Dudley Andrew said the Cflix pilot program was one more step in making the study of film as readily available as possible.
“It’s fantastic for classes because I can now assign a film comfortably the way I assign a book, knowing students can easily access it,” Andrew said.