“This is an honorable attempt to level the playing field,” says Jon Ippolito, professor of new media at UMaine. “But the future is not about propping up old and outdated regimes. We have to focus on new ways to support art.”

His example: MagnaTune.com. On this music-sharing Web site, a consumer can listen to an entire CD online. If the consumer wants to download the CD or obtain the commercial rights to use the music, they are asked to pay for it. For personal use, the listener can choose the price he or she is willing to pay, starting at $5, and going up as high as the listener wants, with the artist getting half the money the consumer pays.

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