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Music Piracy: Is Downloading Music Ethical?

by Sheena B (writer), Stafford, July 30, 2007

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Before I give my reasons for downloading music illegally, I have to say that I'm kind of in limbo with this topic because I have downloaded music illegally, but I also know the effects of what happens to an artist when their music is downloaded without any royalties.

So is downloading illegal music ethical? No,because when you are downloading music, it's taking away from the artist who spends countless hours recording the album and distributing it to their audience.

Going back to the statement I made earlier, I have downloaded music illegally from Limewire, and trust me, I felt guilty doing it, because piracy is a crime. It’s like going to a department store and stealing a $20 shirt. You figure, "I'm not going to get caught." That's how people feel when they go on site like Limewire or Napster (before the many legal battles).

Downloading music is a privilege because you can download songs without buying the whole album. The music that is supplied from artists to their fans is copyrighted for their protection against people who decides to use any type of aspect of a song or lyric. Legal action can be brought upon a person if he or she is caught downloading music illegally. Recently, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has handed out letters to 400 college students at 13 different universities regarding the use of illegal file sharing. The letters were issued to inform students of their illegal act and to offer an out-of-court settlement to avoid a lawsuit be filed against them. Although some students were at risked for letters being sent to them, they still chose the option to continue downloading music, much to the risk of being caught. I always wondered how the RIAA caught people in the act of illegal downloading, but I found my answer thanks to the courtesy of RIAA. The association catches file-sharers by logging on to different sites that offer person-to-person file sharing. The RIAA finds the person’s IP address and subpoena to get the person’s information. So is downloading a song that you hear countless times on the radio worth facing criminal charges? I don’t think so.

There are sites that you can go on that you can download songs and albums for a small fee. Sites such as MusicMatch, Yahoo Music Unlimited, AOL Music, and the new, legal Napster and stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and online giant Amazon.com offer people who rather download music from home a chance to get the newest albums or songs for a good price. For me, I go on Itunes and purchase songs for $.99. Not only am I downloading legally, but also I'm giving a percentage to the artist that I love. Even if its artists that I have doubts about, I still either buy their record or just download the single I want because I want them to get their earnings. Another site that is worthy to check out is Rhapsody, because they gives music lovers a 14-day trial run to test out the site and download music before committing to a contract for $14.99 a month. The best thing about Rhapsody is that you can use any mp3 player for the songs downloaded, compared to Itunes, which only caters to an Ipod. So why can't people just go on these sites and do it? Because they feel why should they. For me, it's all about being equal. Say if you were an artist trying to get your music out. You wouldn't want someone bootlegging your music or going on unpaid Web sites to get your album for free. So people should have the same respect for an artist that they would for themselves. It’s different if some artists decide to let people download their music for free, because they given permission for people to hear their music without paying, but if a person decides to download an artist’s new CD on the Internet before it released, then it’s unlawful.

One more tidbit about artists and their music. Many people may believe that artists are getting a whole lot of money just because they put out an album. They are wrong. Artists only see a percentage of their earnings when they sell their albums. The record company, producers, and promotions have to get a chunk of the fees as well. Musicians don't really see the big bucks until their albums sell a certain amount, such as gold or platinum status. So before you download another illegal song or album, just think about what you are doing to the artists and their families and realize that downloading illegally is wrong.


I know I did.



About the Writer

Sheena B is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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9 comments on Music Piracy: Is Downloading Music Ethical?

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By Chris Jones on July 30, 2007 at 03:32 pm
Musicians actually make very little money off of album sales even if they have a platinum record. The vast majority of money an artist makes is through touring and endorsements. If the artist writes his/her own songs then they are also entitled to a royalty from that song for the rest of there lives anytime it is used for a commercial, tv show, or anything else. That's why these old bands from the 50's, 60's, and 70's let rappers sample their songs all the time, because it gets the royalties flowing again. The only people who profit a great deal from record sales are artists who are signed to independent labels like Koch. They have cut deals with artists that are unprecedented. Typically an artist signed to a major label like Sony is lucky to make .30 per album sold. Deals with indie labels like Koch, you have the potential to make as much $5 or $6 per CD. Although, the flip side is that you usually have to come out of pocket for music videos, and other stuff that the majors would pay for. When touring the artist receives a check after every single show that includes a nice piece of the ticket sales. Superstars like Britney Spears and Jay-Z typically make around 20-30 million for a world tour. I will support the artists I like by purchasing tickets to see them on tour. I haven't actually paid for music in close to 5 years and I have no intention of doing so in the future.
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By purpledoc on August 03, 2007 at 12:17 am
So your logic is...because artists make little money from the record sales, it is OK to steal their songs without paying them even a little bit? Maybe you should be asking the artists (you know, the ones that actually CREATED the songs) themselves whether you are supporting their rights by stealing? Do you think the only person you are hurting is the CEO of the record company? What about the workers at the disc pressing plants? Did you mother never teach you that stealing is wrong, period? It's ridiculous to justify stealing music by saying you will at some point attend concerts. That doesn't erase the fact you stole the work of the artists in the first place. Doesn't anyone have any ethics left in them anymore?
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By Sheena B on August 03, 2007 at 01:49 am
With the comment regarding artists making money through other areas such as endorsement deals and acting gigs is true, but the point I was trying to get out was while bigger name artists wear other hats in the industry, lesser known artists are just trying to get their foot in the door to achieve some sort of recognition in the industry. If people steal their music, then they will never see any type of revenue. But whether it's an artist that have millions from tours or a new artist trying to find a break, bootlegging their albums are wrong because not only are you taking profits away from them but from people who also worked on their album, such as song writers, producers, to even the people packaging the CDs. I admitted that illegal downloading is wrong and I've stop because of the effect it has on everyone involved to produce a successful album for fans, so people should have the same respect for artists by supporting them and buying their albums.
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By Chris Jones on August 10, 2007 at 03:01 pm
It's interesting that stealing music to most people doesn't rise to the level of say shoplifting, but in reality it's the same thing. You make many good points and I agree with most of them, I just can't reform my ways when it comes to downloading music. Steve Jobs has been fighting the music industry to keep iTunes music at .99 cents a song for a couple of years now. The music industry wanted to lower the price at least on older songs, but Steve wouldn't hear of it. He's a billionaire which is totally cool he deserves it, but he's just being plain greedy about iTunes. I assure you he doesn't want to keep the price at .99 cents out of concern for artist profits, but rather profits for Apple. The bottom line is your right that stealing music is wrong, but it's just something I have to do. Good topic to write about by the way, its a debate that is sure to rage on for some time.
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By XX_BenDover_63XX on February 19, 2012 at 06:46 pm

Hirow frends how is your ilegal downloading going. I like to download porn instead of music. Anyone agree?

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By XX_BenDover_63XX on May 20, 2012 at 08:38 pm
Why does everyone hate me so much?
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By Dan_The_Man on May 20, 2012 at 09:13 pm
Go die Ben Dover
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By YourGloriousLeader on October 29, 2013 at 08:56 pm

i hav from relible soerc tht ben dover is homfag boi that has ova 9000 cat + 1 doge that is misin cuz iz such truble.

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By Credo on October 31, 2013 at 04:54 am

It's a crazy world we live in, especially the business and judicial world. Why would they allow sites that promote illegal operations like downloading free music and then punish people for utilizing the opportunities that the site offers? Pretty much it's like selling wine to a customer and the moment the customer walks out of the store with the wine in a brown paper bag he gets arrested for the wine. They don't prosecute the business that sold the product, they attack and prosecute the customer. Go figure.

An article of great consideration.. Spot on..

:)Credo

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