I was listening to a story on Triple J radio this morning about CDs and copy control technology. Here are my 2 cents...
There are TWO issues in question here:
1. Do consumers have the right to make mp3s of the CDs they bought for personal use?
2. Do consumers have the right to share mp3s with other people?
Ever since the 70's and 80's it has been established practice to tape a record to play in the car, and making mp3s to listen to at work is the digital extension to that practice. Provided the 'personal use' does not extend to giving out copies, this practice should not violate existing copyright laws.
The answer to Q2 is fairly obvious; this is a violation of existing copyright laws, and thus falls outside the consumer's rights. It is this problem that record companies are so desperately trying to stop, however they are trampling all over the established 'personal use' practice at the same time. This harms consumers as it restricts their usage
But an obvious follow-on question is whether or not this actually harms the artist? If you ask the record companies, they will all say that it does. However many artists welcome the extended audience that file sharing brings. And typically the real fans will go out and buy the CD anyway. Many listeners use mp3s to 'test drive' music that they subsequently buy anyway.
I know of an author who posted an electronic copy of her book on the internet. Her publisher was scared it would hurt book sales, and wanted to stop her. She posted it anyway, and it actually *increased* sales.
Publishers are grappling with the Internet; those who see it as a threat are facing an uphill battle that they may never win. Publishers who embrace the internet as a new medium, and evolve business models to take advantage of it and harness its power will surely benefit themselves, consumers, and artists.