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Stop the misleading statistics over P2P swapping

A News.com reader says it's not the poor, starving musicians that will lose out when fans swap music over P2P networks. It's the record industry that's crying foul.

In response to the July 9 Perspectives column by Howard L. Berman, "Just desserts for scofflaws:"

I agree that downloading copyrighted works without paying the appropriate parties is illegal. I don't think anyone is arguing that it is not. Yet Berman goes straight to sensationalizing the issue through the use of misleading statistics. For example, his assertion that songwriters lose 8 cents per song that is downloaded is not even close to accurate.

That amount only applies to artists with recent contracts. Artists who put out a couple of albums in the 60s only get 2 cents. Berman also does not address the issue that no one has even studied or shown that one song download equals one less album sold in stores.

Recording industry groups stand to lose a lot of money from these illegal downloads. Naturally, they're up in arms. Their protectors in Congress are up in arms as well. Both groups churn out essays and statistics at a staggering rate. Where are the artists in all of this? If this is their meal ticket, one would expect them to be the most vocal...even more so given their ability to get press and publicity with little effort. Why aren't they banding together to force someone to protect their livelihood?

The bottom line is that it's not the poor, starving artist that is losing out on paychecks due to music downloading. One artist, Janis Ian, has written a well-thought essay on how peer-to-peer networking enables artists to enhance their incomes and (gasp!) sell more albums.

Do we need to stop rampant copyright violations? Definitely. Should our actions be dictated by half-truths, misleading statistics, and selfish interests? Certainly not!

Noah Cushing
Waltham, Mass.