The problem: audio piracy
Digital audio piracy
As mentioned previously, the introduction of high speed networks and low-cost CD recorders has facilitated the delivery of music and video over the Internet, and as a result has increased the threat of piracy and other unauthorised use. Just as users can use their web browser to make copies of web pages, digital audio pirates are able to copy, reproduce, and distribute digital media. Audio piracy is one of the newest forms of digital media piracy and first became a widespread problem with the advent of affordable CD -Burners . Pirates were able to digitally rip (steal) the binary code of a complete audio CD, and then make exact duplicates.
With the increase in popularity of the home computer, this same digital rip technology is now being used to copy and distribute pirated audio even more easily. Until recently it was never feasible to use personal computers and extant bandwidth to produce and distribute pirated audio. A single song may have taken up to 60 MB, and thus would be impractical to create, store, and transfer. Music is now digitally ripped, converted to an audio file, and then compressed using MP3 technology, producing a CD quality sound file of an average of 3.5 MB. This MP3 technology is now readily available, easily accessible, and has become the next wave in audio piracy, encouraged by hundreds (if not thousands) of MP3 pirate sites dotted around the Web.
Digital audio piracy has become a far more serious problem for the record companies than traditional forms of audio piracy, since CD -quality copies of unreleased songs (and often entire albums) can be available to the entire world within minutes, satisfying at least some of the demand created for songs by record industry hype. One example of audio piracy satisfying demand is the story of U2's last album, Pop (1996), which started with someone in Hungary posting what was meant to be a private in-house video of unreleased material. Within five hours it had appeared on at least 30 other sites. This was considered by many hardcore Internet music fans to be an act of freeing U2's music from the hands of a ruthless record company regime, but Island Records" Marc Marot saw things differently - "What the [people responsible] had done was they had [taken] a piece of work that was not ready for public consumption by U2's own reckoning and delivered into the hands of bootleggers" . Predictably enough, illegal CDs of the two unfinished songs were on market stalls less than 18 hours later. To further add to Island Records" bootlegging worries, the day before MTV was scheduled to debut the entire Pop album, a sneak preview of the broadcast granted to an Irish DJ friend of the band had been taped and posted on the Internet.
Another problem for the record companies is that listening to digitally-copied music in the form of MP3s has become portable and will probably increase demand for MP3 files as its popularity increases, just as the Walkman and the Discman increased demand for cassettes and compact discs respectively in the 1980s.
Until the advent of the MPMan it was inconvenient to listen to Mpeg3 files away from the computer, such as in a car, and it was unheard of for PCs to be connected to a hi-fi. Now, the MPMan allows the user access to digital sound files previously only stored and played back on a computer by transferring MP3 files from the hard drive into the MPMan via a printer cable .