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All downloading and swapping of MP3s has attracted wrath of RIAA because there are no digital security features associated with MP3, so millions of songs are freely shared everyday by millions of users. The files are small enough to be downloaded easily, or even sent to a friend as an email attachment.
Another thing that makes MP3s very exciting and compelling is that it is easy for people to become DJs by mixing their favorite songs. A lot of people have created their own compilation CDs where they take all of their favorite songs from different artists and bands and burn them to CD very quickly and easily.
Webcasting or Internet radio has also become very popular allowing listeners to "stream" audio on their computers. Unlike downloaded MP3s, streamed MP3 files aren't stored on your hard drive, but are broadcast like traditional radio through your MP3 player. Real Networks was one of first to offer streamed audio software, which uses a proprietary format known as RealAudio. Microsoft allows offers their own proprietary streaming audio through their Windows Media Application. If you do a search for "Internet radio" or "webcasting", you will find hundreds of Internet radio stations offering every imaginable type of programming.
Of course, as exciting as MP3s are, there are some legal and business battles that are being waged. MP3 itself is not an illegal audio format, but when people offer up MP3 versions of copyrighted material that is considered a copyright infringement. The Home Recording Act allows you to make copies of your music CDs for personal use but by law, you are not allowed to distribute or share these files with friends or family if they do not own a copy of CD.
The debate rages on as to whether or not MP3 and P2P file sharing programs are good for music industry. MP3 proponents believe that MP3s help promote music and musicians by getting music heard far and wide. On other hand, MP3 critics argue that free music will kill music industry and artists who depend on it. Essentially, it is a battle for control of music distribution. Artists can now bypass record labels and distribute their music very easily and effectively.
A balanced and compromised solution should benefit artists and music labels. There is no doubt that artists and musicians should be compensated for their efforts, yet a lot of new and upcoming bands distribute free MP3s as way to get their music heard. As buzz and excitement builds around band, people are more inclined to support bands by buying their CDs, attend concerts and purchase other band merchandise. Ultimately, bands and music labels probably don't want to bite hand that feeds them.
So, where does that leave us? Well, as we have seen many times over years, hot technology trends come and go. However, MP3s have really captured ears of music aficionados worldwide. With millions upon millions of MP3 audio files out there, and hundreds and maybe even thousands of MP3 related software that has been developed by software developers worldwide, there is no doubt that MP3s are here to stay.
Gabriel Nijmeh is the software editor at MP3-CDBurner.com - http://www.mp3-cdburner.com, where we feature software reviews and downloads of MP3 software including CD rippers, MP3 CD burners, MP3 converters and more. Stay up-to-date on the latest and hottest MP3 software downloads and enjoy our MP3 tutorials, FAQs, music articles and shareware developer profiles.