Survey: Is Napster Really Theft?

"It's a generational divide," says Mark Wright, @plan chief executive officer. "For online users under 35, Napster is simply the digital equivalent to tape swapping."

Despite the legality concerns of older pollsters, @plan found the majority of online shoppers--young and old--think sharing music files over the Web doesn't hurt sales.

"Across the board, people are saying Napster is more of a sampling type service," Wright says. "They're saying it will increase the number of CDs purchased...that's been the experience with the VCR."

Overall, about 65 percent of the total U.S. online population believes that the practice of sharing music files over the Internet will either increase music sales or have no effect on music sales.

Meanwhile in Australia, online music retailer Chaosmusic.com have proposed that 15 per cent of all advertising revenues generated by their 'Free Tracks' search engine, which searches for MP3s via Chaosmusic's site should be directed to the "appropriate royalty collection body".

Chaosmusic.com, who have proposed a similar scheme last year when they offered to report all download sites to industry regulatory body the Australian Publishing Rights Association (APRA). APRA refused then, but evidently the idea won't go away.

"In light of the legal battles in the US, we felt that it was time that the industry organisations in Australia start cooperating with each other, in order to establish an acceptable standard for recognising the copyright component of online music", said Chaos' Rob Appel. "The proposed levy is by no means an endorsement for the unauthorised use of music files", Appel was careful to add.

The proposal has been put to industry associations, managers, record companies and "other members of the music industry", according to Chaosmusic.com, with a suggestion to start collecting revenues in a holding account immediately.

In the letter, Appel equates the transfer of music files around the web to the use of music by radio. "The notable exception," writes Appel, "Is that there is currently no royalty going back to copyright owners. ChaosMusic proposes that our online music search tool, ‘FreeTracks', which allows users to search for music files over the Internet, be used to pilot an effort to generate some return for copyright owners". And so follows the disclaimer, that the "FreeTracks service is neither a client or server software, and that it does not enable users to swap files or publish files illegitimately. It is solely a search tool".

As well as proposing that either AMCOS (The Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society), APRA or PPCA, Chaosmusic have suggested that the benefits of the arrangement would also be in providing "quantitative information on the usage of music files that the service detects", according to the letter. "This would allow the collection society to distribute the revenue fairly to the relevant Australian copyright owners".

Chaosmusic.com last year created an industry body, the Australian Digital Music Association (ADMA), which was intended to address issues and act as a representative body for the emerging online music market.

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