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Not long ago, a New Yorker cartoon showed a woman, arms crossed and a stern look on her face, peering over her husband's shoulder at the computer. He turns to her pleadingly and says, "I swear I wasn't looking at smut. I was just stealing music."

It's easy to snicker at that cartoon, but the issue of online piracy is no laughing matter. It's been well- reported for years in the secular music industry, which has fought back by taking operations like Napster to court and even filing lawsuits against individuals who've illegally downloaded tunes.

But the problem isn't limited to the mainstream. Christian music is dealing with it too. According to at least one survey, Christians are just as likely to illegally download music as non-believers.

The Gospel Music Association has had enough. The GMA, sort of an umbrella organization that oversees much of Christian music, is fighting back—not with lawsuits and court dates, but with an awareness campaign that essentially asks consumers to examine their own habits and morals.

Adopting the slogan, "Millions of Wrong Don't Make a Right," the GMA is spreading the word in an attempt to curb the trends. They've partnered with the Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA) to develop a website to help accomplish that goal, and they waste no time getting to the point:

"Stealing music is the same as stealing anything else," the site proclaims. "It is illegal and the consequences are real—for you and for the music." Among the consequences noted are that "the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) can sue for as much as $150,000 per song illegally downloaded," many of those sued have settled out of court, for an average of $3,000.

The GMA and CMTA have decided not to pursue lawsuits, ...

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February 2005

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