Music’s Whac-A-Mole Menace: How the Moldy, Lopsided DMCA is Hurting Artists

Like so many kids at the dawn of the new millennium, Michelle Maalouf knew the best place to get music was the internet. The then-teenager’s platform of choice was Kazaa, and her download list was filled with the classics of the day: boy bands, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey. “Everyone I knew downloaded music for free,” Maalouf remembers. “Any type of music. I didn’t know that there was anything wrong with it. I thought it was just a way of listening to music and a way to explore.”

But unlike the vast majority of teens and young adults who consumed music this way in the year 2000, Maalouf was among the unlucky recipients of a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America: “One day, my parents got a letter in the mail that said we were being sued for downloading music, and of course they had to ask us, ‘What is this?’ ”