Declan Mayes, President of the Music Buyers Association, is furious at a recent announcement by the recording industry regarding people downloading MP3 music files from the Internet as actual criminals.
A few parallels may be instructive. If someone copies an audio music cassette for their own private use, they are, strictly speaking, breaking the law. But recording companies have usually turned a blind eye to this practice because prosecuting the few people involved would be difficult, and the financial loss to the company itself is not considered significant. Now the Music Recording Association has announced that it regards individuals downloading music from the Internet as pirates, claiming that they damage the industry in just the same way. "The industry is completely overreacting; itll be a laughing stock," says Mayes. "Theyre going to arrest some teenager downloading files in his bedroom—and sue him for thousands of dollars! This isnt going to frighten anyone into buying CDs".
Mayes may have a point. There is a general consensus that CD pirates should be subjected to the full wrath of the law, but few would see an individual downloading music for his or her own pleasure in the same light. However, downloading music files illegally is not as innocuous as making private copies of audio cassettes. The scratchy, distorted cassette copy is a poor version of the original recording, whereas an MP3 file is of high quality and can be stored—on a CD, for example. It is this that makes the practice a powerful temptation for music fans, given the high cost of CDs.
What does Mayes think about claims that music companies could be forced out of business by people downloading music illegally? Thats nonsense. Music companies are always whining about high costs, but that doesnt prevent them from recording hundreds of CDs by completely unknown artists, many of whom are "packaged" by marketing departments to appeal to young consumers. The companies are simply hoping that one of these new bands or signers will be a hit, and although it can be expensive to promote new artists, the cost of manufacturing the CDs is actually very low.
This last point would appear to be the focus of resentment against music companies: a CD is far cheaper to produce than its price in the shops would indicate, and profit margins for the music companies are huge. An adult with a reasonable income may not object to paying £15 for a CD of classical music, but a teenager buying a CD by the latest pop sensation may find that price rather steep—especially since the latest pop sensation is almost certain to be forgotten within a few months. And while the recording industry cant be held responsible for the evanescent nature of fame, given the teenage appetite for anything novel, it could lower the prices it charges—especially since technology is making CDs even cheaper to produce.
This is what Mayes hopes will happen. If the music industry stops exploiting the music-buying public, it can survive. Everyone would rather buy a CD, with an attractive jacket and booklet, than mess around downloading files, but the price has to be reasonable. The problem isnt going to vanish if the industry carries on trying to make a quick profit. Technology has caught up with the music companies, and trying to fight it by taking people to court will only earn money for the lawyers.
16. Mayes thinks that the recording industrys recent announcement ______.
(A) fails to take into account the difficulties of prosecuting offenders
(B) makes the industry appear ridiculous
(C) will deter consumers from buying CDs
(D) will encourage resentment of CD piracy
17. Why does the writer feel that MP3 files are unlike copies of audio cassettes?
(A) Downloaded MP3 files are generally not for private use.
(B) The financial losses to the music industry are greater.
(C) The price of MP3s is higher than that of audio cassettes.
(D) There is a significant difference in quality.
18. According to the passage, Mayes implies that music companies ______.
(A) could cut costs by making cheaper CDs
(B) should not promote artists who are unknown
(C) are speculating when they promote new artists
(D) should use different manufacturing processes
19. The author points out that the music industry cannot be blamed for ______.
(A) the fact that fewer teenagers are buying classical music CDs
(B) the fact that fashions change quickly
(C) the poor quality of modern music
(D) the prices that are charged for CDs in shops
20. What does Mayes think is at the root of the survival problem facing the music industry?
(A) The unprecedented speed of technological development.
(B) Unrealistic legal advice and practice.
(C) Its failure to adopt an appropriate pricing strategy.
(D) The rapidly changing nature of contemporary music.