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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Internet File Sharing: Theft or a Loan?

August 10, 2003

Re "Tone-Deaf Music Industry," editorial, Aug. 4: Calling Internet song sharing "theft" is like calling the Major League Baseball Players Assn. a "labor union." Ordinary people just don't use the language like that. If you take something of mine without my permission, that is theft. If I give it to you, it isn't theft. If I buy a CD, it's mine and I can burn a copy for a friend if I want. It's my CD. The artists got paid when I plunked down my money and got paid quite handsomely, given the incredible price gouging that goes on in retail music stores. If Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-North Hollywood) wants to sponsor legislation to protect corporate profits, he should consider outlawing all sharing, not just file sharing.

Every time I lend my chainsaw to a friend, I cost Sears some money. Every time I lend my truck to a friend, I cost Ford some money. How can we tolerate the millions of Americans who share equipment every year? If outlawing lending your tools strikes you as ludicrous, why doesn't outlawing the sharing of your music? There isn't any difference between the two.

Michael Helwig

Canoga Park

*

Your editorial bases its conclusion on the faulty premise that illegal downloading is petty theft affecting only artists and record companies. There is nothing petty about stealing anyone's livelihood. Beyond artists and labels, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods are evaporating with each "petty theft." First among them is the often forgotten songwriter of the downloaded song. Without the songwriter, there would be nothing to steal.

Marilyn Bergman

President & Chairman

American Society

of Composers, Authors

and Publishers, Los Angeles

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