Many people might have the experience of downloading free music tracks from the internet without paying, and or the experience of sharing MP3 songs among friends. Since the introduction of mobile phones networks whereby one can download music from the internet, and share it with his or her friends the music industry has been heavily hit. “Downloading music from the internet is now more prevalent than before and is mostly practiced by the youth who are not or less concerned that they are violating copyright law.” (Recording Industry Association of America) In some countries downloading and sharing MP3 music is not legal while in others it’s illegal although some people still practice the vice.
Today, the internet is an everyday tool for sharing information and files with millions of people accessing it on a daily basis. Cases of copyright infringement through the download of music have remained high even amid rampant media education and court cases aimed at educating people on the threats piracy causes to the copyright owners. Songs are created from individuals’ creativity and innovation and it’s prone to piracy by multitude hence the need to lend them copyright protection. The owner of the music is the only one with the exclusive right to make copies of the work, distribute the work’s copies to the public and perform the work to the public. Downloading music from the internet and sharing it with your friend is not different from making unauthorized copies such as burning music files onto CDs or stealing a music CD from a shop.
I have no doubt that many people understand that music is copyrighted and any copies made without the copywriter’s authority are illegal. It is just that most don’t care; just students will not find it unethical to photocopy books obtained from the libraries which are just illegal as downloading MP3 music from the internet according to the copyright laws. Downloading and sharing music from the internet constitutes piracy which is immoral and should be banned by law for the sake of the composers and the media companies.
Musicians compose music not only to entertain people but mainly to make a profit by selling music copies. Hence whenever someone obtains the music for free or at a less cost than it should be it results in loss of revenue to the musician and the media company because now they can not make copies and sell. Downloading and sharing free MP3 music means that the composers and record companies of the music do not get anything for their work. Because everybody has a copy of the music artist from the internet, nobody will bother to buy the ones produced by media companies.
Many may claim that downloading does not constitute to crime because nothing is physically taken from the composer, but they should understand using somebody’s idea without his or her authority is unethical. A musician creates his own song and takes it for recording in media companies. The music material benefits both the composer and the producer in that the composer will earn money from the sale of the music and as well pay the media companies for producing his material. Then if people will not buy such work but instead downloads it from the internet for free and even go-ahead to share it with their friends, they deny both the composer and producer the right to revenue accruing from the music.
As a result, media companies can no longer continue with their business because they are not generating any revenue as many media companies depend on the music they produce to meet the cost of developing new artists and to keep their business going.
Not only the revenue which could be earned which is lost, but the time and effort the producer and the composer had made to see the work done. As we all know well that, not everybody can compose and sing a song hence the need to appreciate the work done by others through their own efforts and dedication. It takes musicians a long time to compose and release a new album into the market as well as much effort to get people to do a collaborate with. As one commits oneself to the production of music he or she expects to reap fruits from the work. Pirating through internet downloads deprives the industry of a couple of benefits. Hence enacting laws that will combat music piracy will encourage more artists into the industry and the present artist to produce more.
“Music piracy dims careers of the most aspirating new artist” (Kevin, 2002): The investor usually commits his finance where it gives an immense return on investment. Piracy is the main problem that drives musicians from the industry as it takes away the cash associated with the industry. Music piracy benefits people who have never even contributed a single piece of material to the song, not to mention that they obtain such work free of charge. When people are assured of protection from pirates of music then they will be encouraged to venture into the industry. With this more people will be employed through self-employment and also those who work in the media companies.
Music piracy threatens the jobs of many people ranging from the musicians themselves to those who work in the production houses and the music dealers. Artist relies on songs they compose for the source of income, producers expect the artist to record their music with their companies while music distributors and vendors expect to earn from the music they sell with permission from the musicians. Pirating music means some elements of the chain are eliminated and hence loss of jobs. Musicians will stop composing music because it proofs unprofitable to them; producers will close down their businesses because they are longer receiving music for the production. The legal music vendors will not be spared either because there +are no music CDs to sell and the end result is that, most jobs will be lost. The honest retailer will also lose because they can no longer compete with cheap pirated music in the market. Therefore controlling piracy through legislation of laws will have a resounding benefit not only to the artists themselves but also to the media companies and the business people.
Music piracy kills creativity and intellectual property. As I stated earlier songs are as result of people’s creativity and innovation hence if we allow other people to make use of other people innovation without paying for it, we will discourage innovation and creativity in any industry. With laws protecting copyright artists will not have to bother about piracy because they know once they have released or created any work it legally belongs to them. Musicians mostly depend on their reputation to the public. In most cases pirated music is of inferior quality which damages the reputation of such musicians. This is so because when “transferring music from the original CD its quality is damaged according to analysts.” (Morgan, 2003) Pirated music is always of low quality compared to the original versions made by the media companies.
If vendors avail fake and poor quality music to the public, it will damage the credibility of the artists. Therefore as we allow more pirated music into the market, the more we all damaging the credibility of musicians and the more they lose their customers. Consumers on other hand will also lose because; they are not getting the quality music they were anticipating to have. They CD bough by the consumer may not last long as they were expected hence consumer will be forced to buy another CD in very short period of time.
Music piracy also deprives revenue to the government as music pirates don’t pay tax and dues as required by the law. Downloading music from the internet deprives off government revenue which could be otherwise collected if the music was sold in recorded version. If copyright protection laws are enacted and fully implement music pirates will be in problems. This is because the music recording industry and the law enforcers will always be looking for them to bring them before the courts of justice. The law will provide the measures to be taken to protect copyright owners and lay foundation on procedure of dealing with the music pirates. Because the laws will recognize piracy as a crime, once those who pirate music have been cracked down, they will be charge in courts and be forced to pay fine. As result cases of music piracy will reduce across the world.
The fact that piracy is victimless crime which does not maker copy writer worse than how he or she was before the piracy was done or the copywriter does not lose any physical material, should not be used as basis to continue practicing piracy in the music industry. Although piracy might be viewed by few elements in the society to be beneficial because it avails cheaper music to the public, it is unethical practice because pirating is taking advantage of effort made by other to benefit oneself at no cost.
- Kevin Carlson. Music Piracy, 2002.
- Morgan, Fiona, 2003. Copyright laws are stifling art, but the public domain can save us.
- Recording Industry Association of America Negative. Effects of music piracy on the Music industry.