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By Adam Yerkie

“Every label in the world is just pissing their pants over this thing,” says A.J. Bovaird, bassist for the popular punk band Not By Choice.

Bovaird is referring to file-sharing, the sharing of music and video files online.

“In retail music sales in Canada over the last three years, each year has dropped off by about 15 per cent,” said John Fillion, senior manager at Sam The Record Man at Yonge and Gould streets.

In response to this drop in CD sales, one of North America’s largest record companies, EMI, has begun encrypting CDs with “copy protect” devices.

These encryption codes fool a computer into ignoring all but the first track, which has no audio.

The CDs will not be able to play on your computer or be copied. Other CDs will have a short, three-play life before the files delete themselves.

Fillion said customers weren’t complaining about copy protected CDs.

“We’ve had no consumer complaints that I know. It remains to be seen if it becomes a big deal.”

Bovaird, however, sees this from a different point of view.

“I’ve (heard) complaints from people who have bought MP3 players. I listen to my stuff on my MP3 player and I can’t copy my CD,” he said.

Bovaird says that as a musician, he doesn’t feel ripped off by file sharing.

“We ask the question on stage whenever we play a show, ‘How many people have our CD?” and a few people put up their hands. ‘How many people down loaded our CD?’ and the whole crowd goes, ‘Yeah!’,” Bovaird said.

“All we ever wanted in life was to get our music out there and it worked.”

Fillion disagrees. “There are a lot of people out there who are trying to make a living with their music, just like artists who are trying to make a living with their books, or trying to make a living with their paintings.”

“Copyright law is an important law and you have to realize that,” he said.

“If it’s something the consumers want to do, then the record companies really have to listen to what the consumer wants. But people who want to burn CDs will be able to,” says Fillion.

In fact, songs are available online from Radiohead’s new album which is one of the first copy protected CDs.

There’s a rumour that CDs will be produced with a surface that reacts with oxygen which will last from three days to three years, before self-destructing.

“I don’t know if that’s gonna go over really well,” said Bovaird.

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