The Twisted Morals of Music Piracy
Despite the common knowledge that taking something without paying for it is stealing, there has been a worldwide debate throughout the last decade on whether music piracy through file sharing is an acceptable practice or a crime that should be punishable. The debate has split opinions from everyday people who want to justify their actions or call others criminals. Even the artists, famous and not, are split on the subject. Regardless to the debates going on in our country and the world, file sharing of pirated music is illegal, so it should not be done by anyone.
Many arguments are made by people who are for file sharing of pirated music is that it is not stealing, but only sharing them. These people say that there is no difference between sharing a CD with a friend down the road to burn it onto his or her computer and sharing the same CD with the entire Internet to download. To that, I say no, it is not. There are a large number of differences between these two examples. To start off though, both examples are illegal, so people should not do either. People cannot legally reproduce anything that is someone else’s media production without paying them per song or per cd price for the rights. Another reason why there is a difference is when someone gives a friend a CD to burn onto his or her computer, you know the reason why the person wants the CD. They may just want to hear a new band that the person who is lending the CD told him or her about, and that helps bands make new fans. When people distribute pirated music on the Internet through file sharing, they are making it available for anyone who wants it. Instead of the petty crime of lending music to a friend, file sharing pirated music allows an endless amount of people to steal music, taking the crime to a much larger scale.
Musicians have a hard time making money through album sales, but the people who are for file sharing of pirated music still say that musicians don’t get paid “that much” through record sales anyway, or that the artists don’t lose that much profit through music piracy. Although this may be true, it does not justify letting hundreds of thousands of people steal the artists music because it DOES take away some of the artist revenue, even if it is “not that much.” The record industry in the past decade has been on a steady decline. The combined impact of the Internet, the record companies’ slow response, the availability of single tracks instead of albums, more access to music listening online and unlicensed copying have put a 50% dent in music sales. When an album is made, the record companies pay for the band to make the album. They pay for the recording studio time, production, distribution after the albums completion, and many more cost that go into making an album. The Record companies pay the artist in advance to make the album, but majority of their pay comes from royalties through album sale. Royalties are what the artists get paid as a percentage of each album sold. The percentage is not a large percent (usually around 13% of each album sold), but during the time recording companies pay for the making of the album, they charge the band an advance against royalties. The record company may pay the band a set amount of money during the album’s development in order to have the members of a band have a source of income ahead of time so they can pay for their own living standard. That advance will be recouped before any royalties are paid. So when someone posts music illegally on the Internet, they are showing no regard for the artists’ hard work. So to refute those who use the excuse that artists don’t make that much from record sales, I will not say that they are wrong necessarily, but saying this does not justify ripping off the artists’ of their deserved pay.
Along with this argument that musicians don’t make a lot of their profits from album sales, people who support music piracy also say that the record labels make too much money that artists should be making off record sales. This is just another excuse to steal from an entire industry. Record labels help artists’ names get out into the world, and into our wallets. Without the record labels, a lot of great bands, maybe even some of your favorite bands, would still be no names or only famous in the underground scene of their genre of music. The only recordings they would have would be garage quality recordings, unless they were wealthy enough to pay for their own recording time in a studio and produce their own music, which would be unheard of with so many starving artists. Every band or artist starts out small, and with a record company who discovers them will start out with a low royalty deal. But the artists that do make it onto the Billboard Top 100 don’t complain about record companies because they know that the record companies helped them get where they are today. With the loss of revenues to the record companies through illegal downloading of music on the Internet, record labels will not be able to sign as many bands as they did in the past. This will harm up and coming artists because they may never have a chance to be signed to the companies as easily as in the past.
Any arguments that are for music piracy and illegal downloads via file sharing are only excuses by people to justify their own bad behavior through twisting their own morals. This is a crime that a large percent of the population is guilty of. The real problem lies in peoples beliefs toward the subject, and peoples’ attitudes on this subject reflects on other aspects in their lives. Anyone at some point in their life has tried to justify doing something they know is wrong. If someone tells a lie to a friend, they usually think, “Hey, I know I’m lying, but it’s probably better that they don’t know the truth.” In some cases, this may be right, but the bottom line is that we know when we are doing something wrong, and making excuses will never make it right.
Clifton, Sam. “How Much the Musicians Get from Album Sales” 2010. Web. 02 Apr. 2012.
Cumberland, Rob. “Record Companies and Labels” Bemuso.com. 2002-2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2012.
Brain, Marshal. “How Recording Contracts Work” 22 May 2003. HowStuffWorks.com. Web. 02 April 2012.
“Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)” RIAA, 2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2012.