Issue of Downloading Music
Over the past couple of years technology has been increasing by leaps and bounds especially over the internet. One of those new technologies that is causing big headlines is the ability for internet users to access and download streaming and mp3 format music online. As soon as mp3 files were introduced to the internet, software companies, consumers, and the music industry have struggled to establish rules for the game that is online music (Dueling). There is an unlimited amount of resources on the web to take part of online music through file sharing and specified web sites. This is a great advantage for the consumer but the music industry is hurting over this new development. There are many legal issues concerning this that many just don’t care about or are totally uninformed of. Because file sharing and the downloading of music is so popular and wide spread, many steps will have to be taken in order to harness this new technology. It is obvious that this is the future of music but first it must be done in a way that is legal and so both sides of the issue can benefit.
If you ask the general population if they feel downloading music off the internet is a crime you will get a resounding answer of no. “More than half of all internet users in the United States say that downloading music is not stealing” (Is Downloading). Many believe that online music is simply another value added technology that increases music sales. These people feel it is their right to utilize these technologies and should not have it taken away from them. Those in favor of downloading music also feel like it does not hurt the artist or the record companies. People of all ages and nations are downloading music all the time (Look Who’s). “Young music enthusiasts who may have had difficulty obtaining music in the past due to a poor distribution infrastructure or governmental import controls are now going online to get the music they crave, and also discover new music” (Look Who’s). Down loaders find it so easy now to hear and enjoy new music they probably would of never even heard about if this technology did not exist. Another reason these people feel downloading music should be legal is that compact discs are highly over priced at twenty dollars a pop (Dueling). For the most part these compact discs contain on an average about thirteen songs and only about three or four songs the listener truly believes are good and worth buying. That is where downloading comes in, so instead of buying the entire CD they can just download the songs they want. Downloaded music is also much more convenient than compact discs. The fact is, CDs scratch and become unusable rather easily. They also are hard to keep track of and take up lots of unnecessary space. Downloaded music cannot be destroyed by getting scratched or misplaced because it is all stored on your computer. Songs can be organized in anyway possible making it easy to access and identify for each individual person.
After summarizing the views of those who believe file sharing and music downloading is a legal act it is easy to identify with them. All of their points are valid and require looking into by the music industry. It seems like the music industry is out of touch with the music consumer. They are headed in different directions as far as how to get desired music. Downloading music is a fast, easy, and reliable way to get the specific songs that you want and you don’t even have to leave your home. With the ability to burn CDs now it makes even more sense because you can make mix CDs that have song you really want to listen to. If a burnt CD scratches it is not the end of the world because with the ability to download music the songs are all stored on your hard drive so you can just burn the CD over again. The benefits of downloading music are endless but it does not necessarily mean that it is right.
With so many laws many people are confused over the legalities of downloading and sharing music. The fact is when dealing with copyrighted music, virtually all the music currently on the net, the downloading and sharing of it for free is totally illegal. There are many acts that apply to this topic such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Net Act, Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, and the Record Industry Association of America (Legal Issues). Basically all these acts mean that if you use copyrighted work without the proper authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement lawsuit against you (Legal Issues). This means it doesn’t matter if you have download one song or a thousand, you can be held accountable. These laws exist because what’s going on is causing major problems for the music industry and could cause even bigger problems in the future if it is allowed to continue. By allowing people to download music for free over the internet it eliminates competition and is believed to be dominating the music market (Issues 4). Music sales are dwindling because people have the ability to just get their songs for free. The uniformity of the music industry is most likely caused by this. All CDs are essentially the same price and offer the same amount of songs. If sales were higher and weren’t effected by this new technology than the industry might be more willing to experiment with new prices and ideas. The music industry would also be more willing to experiment with online sales if they weren’t so worried about having their music taken and give away for free. The fear of not being able to make songs because they won’t be able to afford to make them anymore is now a real fear (Issues 4). The huge expenses of finding talent, recording an album, advertising, and then releasing the CD to the public are not paying off in sales revenue. By having the songs available for free, they loose all the money it takes to make the whole process happen. Downloading songs also violate the rights of the singers themselves. By the laws, people must pay the artist for the selling of their works (Issues 4).
Artists also make a pre set amount of dollars off of each CD of theirs that is sold. Artists could be extremely popular but not be getting the money they deserve because people are downloading their songs instead of buying their CD. For the most part, album sales is how singers make their living and no one has the right to take that away.
Nobody wants their job taken from them or the money they rightfully deserve from doing their job. That is exactly what is happening and what will continue to happen to the music industry if the free downloading of music is not stopped or controlled. The people in favor of having free reign over online music have to understand that they are shooting themselves in the foot. If the downloading of online music continues on the path it is on now new music being made and released will become a slower and slower process and grow even more scarce than it is today. People want new music, ideas, and ways of getting to those things but that is never going to happen to the fullest unless change is made. When it comes down to it, the entire process of downloading music is illegal and someday it will be stopped. For the industry to make a full recovery it is best that we all start to do what is right now and reap the benefits in the future.
The benefits of getting online music under control are endless. If the illegal form of downloading music is stopped than new and maybe even better technologies may come out. Record labels could have their own sites where for a small cost you could download an artists CD or the songs you desired. This way both parties would get what they want: The consumer gets the music they want easily and efficiently and the music industry get the money from sales that they deserve. Once illegal downloading is stopped the prices of CDs could drop to a more affordable price because it will be one of many ways you can get the music you want. The artists will be happy, the record labels will be happy, and most importantly music listeners will be happy with the new abundance of music availability and accessability.
Is Downloading Music a Crime? David Legard. September 2000. Accessed November 2004 <www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,18719,00.asp>
Look Who’s Downloading Online Music. Michael Pastore. May 2001. Accessed November 2004
Issues 4. Clarkson University. Accessed November 2004
Dueling Over Digital Music Rights. Christopher Jones. February 2000. Accessed November 2004 <www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,34114,00.html>
Legal Issues Connected with Downloading Music Off The Internet. Accessed November 2004
“Key Moments in the Online Music Battle.” Wall Street Journal Online 12 Oct. 2004. 17 Nov. 2004