Over the past decade, we have witnessed dramatic advances in the field of information technology. In the process, our lives have improved greatly. Indeed, technology and by extension, the internet, has had a profound effect on our lifestyles and lives. Not only has the internet affected the way we conduct business and interact, but also it has also affected the manner in which we share information.
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With the rapid growth of online business, there has also been a resultant increase in the number of people and businesses that are connected to, have access to and share information. Although the internet has eased sharing of knowledge and information, as we advance in technology, it is important to consider issue of ethics in sharing information and knowledge.
One area where there has been a rapid growth in sharing of information and technology is in the music industry where the issue of file sharing has become quite rampant. File sharing describes the activity of providing or distributing access to information stored, using digital means, like in multimedia form (for example, images, video, and audio), as well as computer programs.
To start with, a summary of the article, “The high price for free music: how illegal downloads are silencing artist”, by Hayes (2012), is provided. The key points of the article will be summarized. Thereafter, the multinational as well as global aspects of the article shall be analyzed. Three critically important questions that I would like to address regarding this topic are also highlighted.
Hayes (2012) argues that file sharing has seen a rapid increase in illegal music downloads. He further notes that nearly 80 % of the music downloads are illegal downloads. This is also negatively affecting the economy. By downloading music illegally, you hurt musicians and generally, exploit the music industry. It becomes hard for musicians to finance and develop new projects. This effectively creates a hostile market for musicians.
As Hayes (2012) has noted, many people who download music illegally do so because it is a convenient way for getting music with little regard for the ethics behind such a practice. The loyalties paid to musicians by record companies are also likely to decline due to declined music sales, buoyed by increased cases of music downloads. Lack of adequate policing of the music industry means illegal music downloads goes on unabated.
Hayes (2012) further argues that as the prevalence of illegal downloading increases, this tends to reduce the pricing power of an artist, because there are cheaper options of getting their music. In the past few years, electronic piracy has turned into a problem of global status.
The emergence of Napster in the late 1990s ensured that file sharing became extremely popular (Liebowitz, 2000). Hohn, Muftic and Wolf (2006) argue that recording and software companies have witnessed reduced sales revenue owing to internet piracy. Peitz and Waelbroeck (2004) notes that internet piracy accounted for nearly 20% of music revenue losses. File sharing has largely come about due to technological innovation.
By definition, ethics is a choice of what has been accepted as being wrong vs. what is accepted as being right. Having established that illegal downloading of music is akin to theft, as such, it would be better to examine some of the reasons that prompt individuals to download music. One of these reasons is that people are reluctant to pay a premium for music that they can otherwise downloading cheaply. The argument is that it is not justifiable to pay for something that you can get free.
From an ethical perspective, downloading music illegally is wrong, because it is akin to reaping where one has not sown. The artist cannot get what he/she rightly deserves, because you have found a cheaper way to access their music. Downloading of music illegally contravenes Mill’s principle of utility which proposes that conducting oneself in an ethical manner does the greatest good to a large number of people (Panas & Ninni, 2011).
Multinationals in the music industry have also been affected a lot by illegal downloading of music. For example, some multinationals have had to alter their businesses due to theft and illegal downloading of music. This is because these practices affect the pricing power of companies. Consequently, they are forced to reduce compensation given to artists in order to generate profits. In light of the foregoing arguments, the following questions arise:
Why are we so fascinated with illegal music download?
How can multinationals in the music industry overcome the problem of illegal music downloads?
How has the prevalence of illegal music download changed the marketplace?
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The issue of illegal downloading of music has largely been influenced by advances in technology. This affects the revenue sales of music and as such, music producers and artists do not get value for their money and time. Besides, it contravenes some of the theories in ethics, such as Mill’s principle of utility. There is a need, therefore, to institute policies that seek to decrease the prevalence of illegal music downloads.
Hayes, J. (2012). The high price of free music: How illegal downloads are silencing artists. Web.
Hohn, D. A., Muftic L. R., & Wolf, K. (2006). Swashbuckling Students: An Exploratory Study of Internet Piracy. Security Journal, 19, 110-127.
Liebowitz, S. (2002). Policing Pirates in the Networked Age. Policy Analysis, 438, 1-28.
Panas, E. E., & Ninni, V. E. (2011). Ethical Decision Making in Electronic Piracy: An Explanatory Model based on the Diffusion of Innovation Theory and Theory of Planned Behavior. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 5(2), 836-859.
Peitz, M., & Waelbroeck, P. (2004). The Effect of Internet Piracy on CD Sales: Cross-Section Evidence. Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 1(2), 71-79.