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A survey of artists and musicians in the US has revealed that a large majority have embraced the internet and consider it to be a helpful tool to their careers.

The survey, conducted by The Pew Internet & American Life Project, shows that artists and musicians recognise the advantages of the internet and have used it to their benefit. Some 66 per cent of musicians surveyed said that the internet is "very important" in helping them to create and distribute their music. Additionally, 90 per cent of all respondents use the internet to seek out inspiration.

While the survey revealed that musicians agree that file-sharing should be illegal, they do not seem to be overly concerned about it, with 66 per cent of musicians citing it as just a minor threat or no threat at all.

In response to the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) pursuit of music file-swappers, two-thirds of all artists surveyed said that the people who run the file-sharing services should be held responsible for the piracy while 37 per cent of musicians believe that both those running the file-sharing programmes and the individuals sharing the files should be held jointly accountable. Interestingly, 60 per cent of all musicians surveyed said the RIAA actions will not benefit them in any way.

There is general agreement amongst artists and musicians on the issue of what is permissible and what is not in terms of copying digital music or material. Selling material without the creator's permission is broadly regarded as wrong while copying material for private use is seen as acceptable.

In general, the artists and musicians surveyed appear to have a balanced perspective on the subject of file-sharing and the internet. The responses indicate that they believe they have gained more from the internet than they have lost.

Around 83 per cent offer free samples of their work online and a large number have reported benefits from the practice such as higher CD sales, larger concert attendance, and more radio play; 72 per cent of musicians said the internet has helped them to make more money from their music and 69 per cent sell their music somewhere online. In contrast, a mere 3 per cent of artists say the internet has had a negative effect on their ability to protect their work.

In 2003 the RIAA began using civil lawsuits to target people who were illegally sharing music files through P2P networks and has sued in excess of 3,000 people to date. In light of thiss, Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, has launched Snocap, a new company that he hopes will bridge the divide between record labels and P2P networks. This has developed technology that will identify digital music tracks shared across the internet and create a system to collect royalties on behalf of copyright owners. If Snocap catches on it could be the happy medium for the industry and artists alike.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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