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Last week, a federal court issued a permanent injunction against LimeWire, a free peer-to-peer file-sharing program used to illegally download music. The court held LimeWire liable for copyright infringement and the site was ordered to cease distributing and supporting software. According to a court document, LimeWire agreed to the injunction.

It is the end of an era for LimeWire, but not for free music. LimeWire may be done for now, but that doesn’t mean that the age of file sharing is over. In fact, it is time to rethink the way music is sold because illegal downloading is not going anywhere.

File sharing makes up a notable portion of the music market. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has shown that 95 percent of all music downloaded was obtained illegally. Before this injunction, LimeWire had millions of users that downloaded more than three billion songs, and since its end, other programs like it have seen triple-digit percent increases in activity. Some reports predict peer-to-peer sharing will double its current level by 2014.

Illegal file sharing is in part to blame for the music labels’ grim financial outlooks. In 2008, a MultiMedia Intelligence study showed that the value of peer-to-peer file sharing cost the music industry $69 billion worth of lost revenue, posing a threat to labels’ survival. “Content industries have been pushing really hard for expansion of legal authority,” Legal Studies and Business Ethics professor Kevin Werbach said. “The labels are not necessarily getting more aggressive, they are just getting more desperate.”

But it is not only the file-sharing part that is harmful — it’s the free part that is causing problems. No one should get away with breaking the law, but music labels should attempt to embrace the technology and develop methods in which they can still be compensated.

Some management in the music industry agrees. U2’s manager Paul McGuinness argued in British GQ that preventing illegal downloading is not about “fewer limos for rich rock stars.” Philip Bryne, manager of the Irish rock band Gama Bomb, responded on his band’s blog and dismissed the idea that file sharing can be successfully policed. He emphasized the need for a new model in the music industry, where artists profit mainly from touring and advertising, a theory he has tried and tested with Gama Bomb.

Byrne is right. The law alone can’t and won’t prevent peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

“This is just one more hit in a game of Whack-A-Mole,” said Peter Decherney, a Cinema Studies and English professor who also studies the history of copyright law and internet policy. “Another file-sharing network will soon take its place, but it can’t go on forever. Using the law is only one tool. There have to be other methods to address file sharing.”

It’s not that consumers don’t want to support artists because many people do take alternative legal paths to obtaining music quickly and easily, proven by the success of iTunes. But illegal downloading continues because services like iTunes and Amazon can’t fully compete with other free and unlimited programs. Subscription services like Spotify (a music version of Netflix) or offering music through internet service providers rival LimeWire, and can help to reduce illegal activity.

Artists need to make a decent living and their work should not be reproduced and distributed without their knowledge. But, they have to meet us consumers halfway and adapt to new technologies. That means they have to come up with new business models and make less profit from song sales. Besides Gama Bomb, many artists such as Girl Talk, Kanye West, White Panda and Lil Wayne have maintained successful careers despite releasing music for free or a price of the consumer’s choosing.

These artists have proven it can be done. How many others will successfully adapt?

Adrienne Edwards is a College sophomore from Queens, N.Y. Her e-mail address is Ad-Libs appears on Wednesdays.

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