Music downloads and the ethics of piracy

Introduction

Music piracy is the unlawful access to an artist’s music through either physical or internet means. Internet piracy is the illegitimate posting and access of music using websites or email services while physical piracy is the illegal copying of music to CDs, DVDs, flash disks or external hard disks. Usually music piracy can be through simple piracy, counterfeits, or bootlegs. The young generation is the great beneficiary of music piracy while the artists are the main losers of the illegal downloading.

Besides the music industry, other professionals for instance, producers feel the pitch of piracy. Music industry loses billions of money to the piracy while governments lose billions of money in form of taxes. However, campaign to create awareness about the negative impact of music piracy can lead to a decrease in the vice. The following article explicitly outlines the impact of piracy to the music industry, the public, government, and the remedies to curb the vice.

Music piracy has a great negative impact to the music industry especially in terms of public image or reputation and profit generation. There has also been a close down of recording companies, unsuccessful venturing into music by other people, and discouragement of new artists. Some music producers and artists decide to take up other professions rather than music while others take up singing as a part-time job or hobby. The creativity, innovation, and talents of many people go unnoticed due to piracy or discouragement from piracy.

Amazingly, some pirates download the music for sale to the public preventing the artists from gaining profits. The public access to pirated music leaves fans unsatisfied because the recording materials are of low quality and therefore enjoy the songs for a short time. Consequently, the public image or respect of the music industry drops. Surprisingly, due to illegal online downloading of music, the music industry loses about $4.2 billions yearly throughout the world.

Due to music piracy, the musicians, song composers, writers, and producers generate very low income. The artists do not benefit from their creativeness or innovation in the music industry; a sad tact that negatively affects their living standards. The producers who earn their living from the original copies incur loses or generate low profits. Additionally, the piracy taints artists’ names because the music on the market is of poor quality.

Similarly, their public and personal reputation decreases because of the fake music materials like CDs, DVDs or MP3 circulating in the market. In addition, “the prices of counterfeits fluctuate leading to a stiff competition with the originals” (Peitz and Waelbroeck 72). On the other hand, the public burns or carelessly disposes the fake music materials in the environment leading to pollution.

Although pirates and consumers tend to gain from the counterfeits, they are also at the losing end. The pirates may face the law because it is a crime to copy or steal another person’s trademark and copyrights.

The criminals may pay huge fines or face imprisonment incase they are taken to court. Similarly, consumers access music of low quality yet they spend a lot of money to purchase the CDs or DVDs. In addition, there is no satisfaction from the music industry, which may force consumers to criticize the musicians or artists painting them negatively.

Low sales of the albums negatively affect the retailers and recording companies who solely depend on the music industry to earn a living (Zentner 16). Due to piracy, the music industry is experiencing a decline in sales for the last three decades.

The retailers face stiff competition from counter fakes whether online or physical. The price of the counter fake goods is always lower than the original goods, therefore attracting many customers. Unluckily, the competition may lead to a decrease in employment and creation of job opportunities to the public.

Likewise, the recording companies, which hold shares in the albums or music industry incur loses. Consequently, most companies are closing down while others are struggling to fight piracy in order to earn profits in the business or venturing into a different business other than music. Due to the widespread piracy, most governments lose revenue that could raise the living standards of its citizens.

For instance, the US government “loses approximately thirteen billion dollars in form of revenue to the pirates” (Siwek 12). Unfortunately, the fluctuation in prices of pirated music not only affects the music industry but also other entertainment industries like cinema leading to inflation of other commodities and subsequent rise in prices of essential goods.

The fight against music piracy

The public, musicians, and government can collaborate to fight and curb piracy worldwide. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of piracy and therefore, teaching and preaching against music piracy will raise public awareness on the same. Artists can hold rallies and campaigns to raise the piracy issue.

Through printing media, there can be channeling of materials like books or leaflets, which discourage piracy to the public especially the youths as a way of informing people about the vice. The artists should compel their fans to help them fight against piracy by encouraging them to buy original CDs or DVDs.

Similarly, parents and teachers should teach their children about the negative impacts of piracy especially to self-esteem, government, and other people who depend on music for their livelihood. On the other hand, artists, musicians, and producers should lower the prices of albums, as it will discourage music prices. The main reason for music piracy is the high prices put in place to access music and tunes; therefore, cheaper prices and accessibility from the music industry will play a significant role in stopping the vice

The government should establish and enact rules and regulations to curb piracy. Through keen observation, all pirates should face severe punishment in form of imprisonment or huge fines. The public should be on the lookout to ensure they only access original albums, as it will lockout pirates from the market.

Additionally, the government should also chip in to ensure easy access of original music to the public. The music industry should access money in form of grants to lower their production rate and therefore, sell their albums at a lower price, a fact that will decrease the rate of piracy worldwide. Public government figures should actively be involved in the fight against piracy though public speeches and campaigns.

Finally, piracy occurs mostly through online services especially the internet; therefore, websites owners and communication industry should impose strict laws and access to online music services. The public should also not buy music from online stores unless it is through the music industry and not personal websites. In addition, websites promoting free online music should close down, as it will also curb piracy from avaricious people.

The internet services should put high charges to those who download music from the internet to discourage piracy. Industries that manufacture compact disks should only sell their products to genuine people while musicians should put a clear difference between original albums and counterfeits. Use of stamp services for identification of original albums and construction of few music outlet stores with a few agents will ensure effective distribution of original music.

Environmentalist can help in the fight against piracy by enacting strict laws on the public deposition of pirated materials. Most pirated goods are of poor quality and therefore lead to accumulation of fake materials in the environment. The public pollute the environment by either throwing away or burning the CDs or DVDs.

Conclusion

In summary, music piracy is the main hindrance to the success of music industry. The government, musicians, artists, consumers, and even the pirates themselves incur loses because of the piracy. The government loses billions in form of taxes while the music industry incurs huge loses profit wise and such derails economic growth. Consumers access products of poor quality while pirates may face the law because piracy is a crime.

However, campaign from the public, government, and music industry will effectively stop piracy. When the government and music industry enact strict laws against pirates, it will lead to a decrease in the rate of piracy. Through the help of the government, the public access to cheaper music services will decrease piracy levels. Therefore, all the stakeholders in the music industry and public sector should unite in the fight against piracy.

Works Cited

Siwek, Stephen. The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy. Institute for Policy Innovation, 2007.

Peitz, Martin, and Waelbroeck, Patrick. “The effect of internet piracy on music sales: Cross-section evidence.” Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues 2.4 (2004): 71-79.

Zentner, Alejandro. “Measuring the Effect of Online Music Piracy on Music Sales.” Industry Surveys 4.6 (2001): 14-26.