DOWNLOADING MP3S WILL MAKE YOU GO BLIND, WARN BPI

Link between porn and piracy, claims the mouthpiece of the major labels...

Most of the big serach engines have reported that MP3 is the most searched for word on the internet after “sex”. Yet according to the watchdog for Britain’s music establishment, the two are inextricably linked.

In a statement issued today in London, The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) – the professional body that represents Britain’s major record labels – claims that they are investigating illegal sites offering downloads of MP3 files that “force” fans to view pornographic material before they can get the music.

The statement claims that “pirate” sites are using major names to lure users to download tracks, “then are forcing the user to watch horrific scenes of teenage sex”.

Emma Fanning of the BPI said: “It has always been the case that piracy has links with pornographers and organised crime. What is most repellent about this is that it is likely to attract the younger user.”

Sarah Roberts, Communications Manager of the BPI told nme.com: “The majority of illegal music is still produced and sold on CDs, but the rate of growth of MP3s is of concern and we feel we have to act now.”

But one webmaster who runs a fan site for a major band told nme.com: “The users aren’t members of organised crime. These are kids in towns across the world posting sound files that they recorded when bands came and played there and they’re trading them on the internet. Kids aren’t getting rich off of this. It’s like swapping bubble gum cards. These are the same people who were telling us a coupe of years ago that taping stuff on cassettes was destroying the music industry. They’re looking for someone to blame. They should take a look in the mirror.”

The BPI claims that it is not opposed to MP3 files per se: “The BPI supports all technological advancements – including the MP3 format – that are revolutionising the way music can be distributed. The BPI does not, however, support unlicensed MP3 sites that violate artists’ and producers’ rights. The BPI wants to ensure that music fans and consumers reap the benefits of the internet. Record companies are excited about, and are actively pursuing, the vast opportunities of the internet. Protecting the copyrights of artists and record companies on the internet is not censorship.”

Yet even legal MP3 sites have come under attack. The BPI‘s Stateside equivalent the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) started the year by fighting an unsuccessful court battle against Diamond, claiming that their portable MP3 player the Rio was an encouragement to pirates.

And recent attacks by voices such as John Kennedy of Universal attacking the “scourge” of recordable CDs) and of HMV Europe managing director Brian McLaughlin saying that the chain would boycott releases by artists who had made music available to download before releasing it on CD, vinyl or mini-disc suggests that there is a lot of resistance to the new technology and its implications for the future of music retailing worldwide.

The BPI claim that they will go after sites promoting pirated music as well as sites that point others to such sites, which could include internet service providers and free web space providers who do not censor the content of sites. The BPI also traditionally does not differentiate between pirated recordings (forgeries of legal releases) and bootlegs (live recordings, often done by fans and traded amongst themselves).

Click here to go get some (legal) Mp3s. We guarantee that you won’t be forced to watch any “horrific scenes of teenage sex” (unless, of course, you’re having a shag and catch a glimpse in the mirror or have a porn video on your VCR or something).

Is this the big labels running scared and looking for a scapegoat? Have you ever been forced to witness “horrific scenes of teenage sex” while downloading Mp3 files? Was it good for you? Tell us what you think. Post a message on Angst!