Although The IT Crowd’s anti-piracy advert seems “really mean”, it does pose the question as to why do so many people download music illegally? One of the most downloaded things on the internet today is music. Okay let’s be honest, we are in this technological era where we can practically download anything we want off the internet for free. I mean, who doesn’t want to click a few buttons and get things for free?
Throughout all this, however, I continues to be a heavy purchaser of music. On CD, initially, then later on vinyl and downloaded (legally) from the Internet. In fact, I often purchased those very same albums I copied illegally if I liked them, that is. If I didn’t like them, well, I considered that a free trial. I always figured that I needed to support the musicians I liked, and that meant paying them for their work by buying their LPs, CDs and digital downloads. But not everyone who pirates music ends up buying it legally. Well, when it’s so easy to download music, there mustn’t be anything wrong with it; everybody’s pirating music today, so why shouldn’t you?
How big is online music piracy? Pretty big, if you believe the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) who lobby the big recording labels. The RIAA claims that 95% of all downloaded music today is illegal, that 22% of all Internet bandwidth is consumed by the delivery of pirated items including ebooks and videos. Statistics state that the average iPod contains $800 worth of pirated music, which means that online piracy costs the music industry $12.5 billion each year (Michael Miller, 2012). Whether these “statistics” were inflated by the RIAA to highlight the declining sales of CD’s or not, the increase in music piracy is undeniable.
But who is illegally downloading? The finger is always pointed to the one’s who constantly share music illegally.. kids. According to recent statistics 71% of illegal downloaders are between the ages of 16 and 24, which means it’s us high school and college students. We are the ones who don’t necessarily have lots of money to spend on purchasing music in the first place. So there is no question as to why we love downloading music without paying for it. Whether you are an avid music lover or just a total cheapskate, there is no denying the appeal in curating your digital music library at zero cost.
However, downloading music at zero cost devalues the work of these musicians. You are pretty much saying that the great music they produce is worth nothing. I’m not going to lie, I have downloaded music before and I probably will again.. what’s that saying again- if you can’t beat ’em, join them? But the bottom line is, downloading music for free is stealing. In my opinion, you should support the artists you love by paying for the music they produce, whether that’s purchasing CDs and paying for legal downloads from the iTunes Store or even direct from the artists’ own websites. After all, you wouldn’t shoot a policeman and then steal his hat.
Who Music Thefts Hurt (RIAA Representing Music) http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_details_online
Downloading Pirated Music: Pros and Cons (Michael Miller) http://www.quepublishing.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1946755