Music Piracy (Part One)

Piracy is the re-distribution or duplication of other people’s original work without their consent. In early 2005, a hackware program known as PyMusique was created and is spreading wildly on the Internet. The motive of PyMusique was to strip the copyright protection off the songs on iTunes. The existence of this program leads to a rise in controversy of copy protection.

In the digital age, piracy is worsened by peer-to-peer and file sharing services like MegaUpload, BitTorrent and RapidShare. We can get whatever resources we want just by clicking the “Download” button on the screen. We are exempted from paying what we downloaded into our computer, all we need to pay is our monthly Internet bill. These convenience, hassle-free and cheap methods available makes it difficult for us to control piracy as it is rampant.

Nowsadays, we often refer to piracy as theft. Even though we are not physically depriving other people of the albums, we are claiming authorship of the intellectual property even though we are not the ones who produce it. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote:

“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

Why is piracy so popular?

Piracy is especially prevalent in the music industry. Many people simply download the songs and transfer it into their mp3, without buying the original copies of the albums. The main reason is because purchasing the original copies is too costly. For example, we can buy music from iTunes, the largest distributors of music. One song costs about $0.99. If we were to buy the whole album of songs, it will burn a hole in our pocket. Many poor students who are accustomed to the Internet where almost everything is free. From viewing photos, reading articles to watching movies, there is nothing that we can’t do with the use of Internet. What is the use of paying if it is already available for free in the Internet?

People also justified their act of unauthorized download by reasons such as “listening to the music before buying to know if the music is up to their taste.”

An individual who downloaded illegal music will recommend it to another individual, leading to a common belief that “Piracy is common. Since other people are doing it, i can do it too. There is nothing wrong with it.”

One can also argue that downloading illegal music will not affect the music company as he will not be buying it anyway. However, if we are not going to buy it, we should not even download it in the first place as we do not have the rights to own that property. This is equivalent to theft.

In the next post, I will continue to talk about the ethical issues of piracy and what we can do to prevent piracy.




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