Our columnist this week is Callum Fitzpatrick, a 17-year-old studying at Leeds College of Music (BTEC National Diploma in Popular Music) and Pudsey Grangefield School (A-level Media).

With the introduction of music downloading, it has never been so easy for artists to get their music circulated around the globe and heard by millions; so, should it be illegal for us to download music for free?

When P2P (Peer to Peer) file-sharing programs were first hatched, they were set up with one aim: to give fans the music they love and at no cost. The craze had millions logging on and downloading mp3 files of their favourite tunes. However when heavy metal band Metallica realised a demo of their song I Disappear had found a route to its fans and radio stations prior to its actual release in 2000, they filed a lawsuit against popular P2P program Napster, angering thousands of fans and ultimately leading to a major trial that made the downloading and sharing of music for free a breach of copyright laws and a criminal offence.

Music trends have changed through the years. We have transferred from records to cassettes and from cassettes CDs emerged. The technology continues to grow and the prices grow along with it. With the high prices that are put on CDs, it is quite understandable that we are enticed to obtain music for free instead of paying the ridiculous prices in shops.

The Scrooges who set sky-high prices for CDs are quick to attack the consumer who is listening to their music for no cost, but they don't appreciate the underprivileged listener and that maybe some people can't afford the CD they strive for. Does this mean they should be denied the opportunity to enjoy the music they love?

I can appreciate that the smaller bands and artists who are not too successful need the income from record sales to earn a living, but I don't understand why multi-million selling artists such as Metallica, Dr Dre and Madonna protested. These originally sparked the controversy surrounding the subject. They complained not because they can't put the bread on the table, but due to greed. It is the artists themselves who are supposedly role models for children. What is to be learned from this; that greed and selfishness is something we should carry out?

Why do the record companies need any more money? Why not give a little bit back by letting the public enjoy their songs for free? If the artists are losing so much money, then surely they wouldn't be able to live the high life we witness them portraying every time we turn on the television.

The record industry claim that consumers obtaining music for free is the reason they are losing millions in revenue and this is the reason CD singles have plummeted by 50 per cent since 1999.

Is it the general public that is causing the problem though? Whatever happened to the time when music was about reaching fans, creating a message or just for the good-old entertainment value? Music used to be created by the people, for the people and about the people; when did this purity die out?