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What is all the legal fuss over MP3s?
You may have heard about MP3s the way many people have: hearing about illegal music downloads. Up until recently, the MP3 file format had become synonymous with illegal music sharing.

Several years ago, a Peer to Peer (P2P) web site named was created that allowed people to share files with many people. Unfortunately, the system quickly became a source of illegal music, video and software. In addition, the downloads went through Napster's central servers, making it possible for media companies and artists to sue for copyright infringement. Later, other P2P sites appeared that created direct connections between individual computers instead of through the central servers. This prompted the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to sue individual users, since a court decision took liability away from the P2P services.

While illegal trading of MP3s continues, the demand for downloaded music has created a new business model: purchasing and downloading individual songs instead of buying full albums in stores. Running at the front of the pack is Apple's I-Tunes music store (though they use another file format, known as AAC instead of MP3), with others making their own mark in the business. Even Napster has made the transformation into a legal service, providing both music and their own brand of player.

With the current popularity of portable music players, the MP3 has become a hot property. People have discovered the value of a device that is both portable and doesn't skip when worn while jogging. The MP3 format allows hundreds of songs to be carried wherever you go.

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