Piracy is stealing and affecting music industry

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Mediafire, mp3raid, File Tram and 4shared are all websites made to share music for those who want it, but what these sites don’t say is that they are illegal.

Music piracy is having a great effect on the music industry, and it is a crime many commit daily.

Piracy is the use of another person’s idea, product or invention without their permission, which is an infringement of a copyright, as per Webster’s Dictionary.  For the music industry, this includes downloading music for free, sharing music with friends and emailing links for songs to friends.

Many think pirating music is a small act that does not have great effect on the artist or the music industry. Some statistics found on the Recording Industry Association of America’s website prove piracy not only affects the artist, but a large number of people working for the music industry.

“That cast includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, talent scouts and marketing specialists, producers, publishers and countless others,” the website says. “One credible study by the Institute for Policy Innovation pegs the ANNUAL harm at $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy as well as more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.”

Marguerite Driessen, a former BYU law professor, teaches media law for the College of Fine Arts and Communications Department.  She said she has strong opinions about piracy.

“I actually think stealing anyone’s anything is wrong,” Driessen said.

[pullquote]”One credible study by the Institute for Policy Innovation pegs the ANNUAL harm at $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy as well as more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.”[/pullquote]

Driessen said there is not always a black and white line because some uses are appropriate.

“For example, if you are singing a song while walking on the sidewalk, you are in violation of copyright,” Driessen said. “Yes, that is a violation, but I don’t expect anyone to send them money for that.”

Driessen explained that whether or not the copyright infringer is making money, they are still in violation and the consequences could be great.

“In this case, the federal government can criminally prosecute you and the people can civilly sue you for damages,” Driessen said.

Driessen also explained why sometimes, there are no charges.

“It is your responsibility to enforce copyright,” Driessen said. “If you are happy to give it out, no one is going to enforce it.”

Taylor Abegg-Lawrence, a sophomore from Provo studying microbiology, had his own definition of piracy.

“It’s the difference between stealing and copying,” Abegg-Lawrence said. “For example, if I steal a car, I steal a car. If I pirate a car, in the morning they still have a car. The only difference is I have one too.”

Abegg-Lawrence does not illegally download music, but he thinks if the music industry capitalized on the opportunity to give free music, it would make more money.

“If the music industry made websites to download songs for free, they would get more money through advertising and sales of other products than they would for selling the songs,” Abegg-Lawrence said.

The program Spotify is similar to the program Abegg-Lawrence was describing.

“Spotify is a radical platform offering free and legal access to a huge library of music,” the Spotify website says. “This is provided free by the use of minimal advertising (and some paid subscriptions). Although users can pay a small fee to remove advertising, users are welcome to leave the advertising in-place and enjoy free access to music.”

Derek Flora, a senior from Chino Hills, Calif., studying international relations, said he likes Spotify because he gets to choose the music he listens to.

“By listening to Spotify, I can hear all the music I want to, and it’s even better than Pandora because I can choose which songs I want to listen to,” Flora said. “It then gives me a reason to purchase the songs elsewhere.”

Flora said he thinks the best feature on Spotify is the link-up to Facebook.

“Because I get most of my music from recommendations from others, the connection with Facebook is awesome,” Flora said.

Flora said Spotify is helping decrease illegally downloaded music.

“Spotify has curbed illegal downloading because it offers a location to listen to music,” Flora said. “The main reason many have downloaded music off of the Internet is because the 30-second samples offered on iTunes and elsewhere were insufficient.”

Nick Bowman, a tech sales associate for Sports Authority, from Arvada, Colo., prefers to purchase the music he listens to instead of illegally downloading it.

“I do not illegally download music,” Bowman said. “I prefer to support the bands I like by purchasing their music.”

Although Bowman said he thinks piracy is a form of stealing, he also said it can help bands.

“It can help independent bands without major record companies to help get their music out there for people to hear it,” Bowman said. “It can also help small upcoming bands be found or become famous.”