After reading Simon Webb's article 'Do Kids Know The Value Of Music?' I was set thinking, do we really take music for granted nowadays, expecting it to be at our disposal 24/7? Is the idea of illegal downloading purely a selfish concept designed for free riders who didn't want to fork out 12.99 for an album, or is there something more subversive in there? "Music belongs to the masses" cry a new wave of musical anarchists as the music industry hones in on new targets, so who's right?

Let's think about the origins of rock, the kind of music we can see most of our modern genres springing from, rock n'roll ostensibly began as gospel music, which developed into blues before blooming into the early rock bands as we know them. Now gospel music is about as far from the commercial music industry of today as you can get; the tunes were shared around and sung by different choirs and the emphasis was very much on togetherness and involving the audience; no one was going to sue little Johnny for going home and performing the songs to his parents. There was a community spirit, a certain communism about this music that made the performers and the audience equals; a communism that the music industry of today seems directly against.

Just this month the Music Publisher's Industry, which represents US sheet music companies, announced that it would be suing websites offering song scores, tablature and lyrics without permission. David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers' Association, claims, "Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing." Is Dave Grohl really going to come round to your house and accuse you of forcing him into poverty with your screeching cover of 'One By One'? I don't think so, but already tab sites are removing their material for fear of legal action.

For years young musicians have been developing their talents by learning songs by their heroes, it's one of the best ways to get to grips with an instrument, and let's face it, most of us were inspired to start playing by Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix or some other great musical god and we want to be able to stand back and feel proud that we can play their tunes. Of course the music industry is making very little sense here, little Johnny might be playing Jimi's tunes from tabs without Jimi's permission, but he's never going to sound exactly like Jimi, and even if he did, he could hardly pass himself off as Jimi Hendrix and start cashing in on the records. So where's the sense in it all? The reasoning of course is completely commerical; music is a commodity and the record companies don't want those tabs online because they want to sell you expensive, glossy tab books when all you wanted was to play one simple song that you really love. Tab sites had that community spirit; they weren't about one person typing out the definitive version of how to play a track, but multiple people's attempts to pin down those elusive riffs and others building on this, this hardly seems to violate the tab book versions as very few tabs would come up with the exact same information. Whatever happened to the days when music belonged to the people?!

It's a sad fact, but with the music industry becoming more and more desperate and seeking new measures to control and confine our freedom to play and appreciate music, music is moving away from its liberating roots. The question now seems to be are young musicians everywhere infringing artists' rights by publishing tabs, or is the music industry infringing our rights to appreciate and share our interpretations of music with others?