"Don't Sever a High-Tech Lifeline for Musicians"

Janis Ian speaks out for file-sharing in L.A. Times
Folk singing legend Janis Ian has written a commentary for the LATimes Online (2/2/03) on the RIAA vs. Verizon case, in which the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that anyone suspected of downloading so-called "infringing" files on the Internet -- usually an MP3 of a song -- could be sued. No evidence is required. An accuser fills out a form for a court clerk and the machinery is set in motion.

"The record companies say this decision will mean more money for musicians, but they have it backward," says Ian. "The downloaded music they're shutting off actually creates sales by exposing artists to new fans."

Ian feels that if this ruling stands, many smaller musicians will be hurt financially, and many will be pushed out of the music business altogether.

"I've been a recording artist for nearly 40 years, with top-selling songs such as 'Society's Child,' 'At Seventeen' and 'Jesse.' Six months ago, I began offering free downloads of my songs on my Web site. Thousands of people have downloaded my music since then -- and they're not trying to steal. They're just looking for music they can no longer find on the tight playlists of their local radio stations. That's how many artists gain new listeners these days -- through the Internet."

She concludes by stating that, "The RIAA says it is doing all this to make more money for me and other artists like me, but don't be fooled. Many musicians would lose money, many fans would be denied a universe of new choices and the possibilities of Internet music would be cut off before the revolution even begins."

Visit Janis Ian's website, where she has many other articles on various topics.