Have you ever downloaded a song on your smart phone, tablet or computer? Ever decided to bypass iTunes, Google Music, or Amazon music and instead use your device’s app manager to download a free music-downloading app instead of paying for your song(s)? Without realizing it, a person doing this has just illegally downloaded a file and copyright laws, as basically “If you did not pay for a song, movie or other media file that has a copyright, then downloading that file is a crime. (www.webster.edu)”It may be easy to overlook these copyright laws and to even realize that what one may be doing is wrong because the files are so easily accessible on basically any device with Internet.
Illegally downloading music is such a big thing that an article by Lovoie discusses a recent case where a federal jury recently ordered a Boston University graduate student to pay $675,000, or $22,500 per song, for illegally downloading and sharing music after admitting to downloading and sharing 30 songs (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=8226751). The article goes on to explain that this is only the nation’s second music illegal downloading of music case to go to trial and that the judge hit him wit the book because he admitted to downloading and sharing these files between an 8 year time period. According to the article, “Last month, a federal jury in Minneapolis ruled that Jimmie Thomas-Rasset, 32, must pay $1.92 million, or $80,000 on each of 24 songs, after concluding she willfully violated the copyrights on those tunes.”
I have mixed feelings about these trials. To me, it is crazy that a person can get charged so much money for sharing files inadvertently and I think in both cases the people were hit hard and almost used as an example to show the world that illegally downloading and sharing music is serious and will not be tolerated. I almost don’t want to admit that I am guilty of illegally downloading music for the sake of this paper with how these two cases were handled. I do agree that it is wrong to steal people’s music and basically work they spend all of their time creating. I know that if I were a singer (which I would never be considering I cant hold a tune for even a second!) I would be offended if my music was available on random apps and websites for free when I spent a lot of time and money getting them published with iTunes, Amazon, Google, etc.
I have also seen many albums get “leaked” and artists have to get smart on what their next move is going to be. Do they release the album early? Do they ignore the leak and continue working towards the album release as expected? There are many options and whoever the person is that is essentially stealing this music and sharing it may be doing the artist a favor. For example, I remember when Drake’s last album came out and was leaked right before the album was supposed to come out for sale I had a hard time even listening to the song before it was available for purchase knowing he wasn’t the one to put it out there. In the back of my mind, I did feel guilty about listening to the track and at the end of the day realized it was someone else’s work that was being messed with and felt just a little bit angry with the person(s) that did that and probably claimed to be Drake’s friend. As I’m sitting here talking like I’ve known the guy all of my life or something J.
With the Internet and capabilities of our smart phones and such, it is crazy how easy it is to commit a crime and not even realize you may be doing so. Instead of sending every single person that downloads and shares a song and commits a piracy crime, maybe these people should be focusing on the bigger picture and hitting the app and website developers that create and allow you to find music and access the files illegally instead of the people. I am not saying that downloading these songs is right and should be overlooked, but I do feel that artists already make crazy amounts of money regardless of the people that do share files without copyright permission and there are other ways to handle the issue. Well, I did think that until I read more on the subject and apparently forgot about the people behind the scenes that are affected by people pirating music. It is easy for me to think that it is just one person until this one person turns into 30 million more people downloading a song and a loss of 30 million to the music industry as a whole.
To continue on to the things I learned, according to the www.riaa.com website, “One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes. (http://www.riaa.com/faq.php)” These numbers are crazy high and shows the severity of piracy on the music industry. I would hate to think I lost out on a chunk of earnings as a person in the music industry because of the easy access to pirating music and sharing these files. The few songs getting downloaded and shared add up to a crazy amount of money being lost because someone out there decided they should essentially steal these songs and share them with the world for free.
I have never really thought of illegally downloading music and the severity of downloading and sharing a file and how it can affect the big picture. This assignment definitely made me take a step back and look at the effects this can have on many people and an industry as a whole; as well as, the repercussions for committing this crime in which most wont not think is a big deal in how it can turn into a big deal eventually.