Music Piracy (Part Two)


The record company faces diminish of sales and a loss of jobs. There is 30% drop in global music sales from 2004 to 2009. This is bound to happen as there are lesser people buying the physical music albums. The price of the albums are usually set by the company as they think that the price will be able to maximise sales. Due to piracy, the company cannot generate enough revenues to cover the loss, thus will not be able to keep their company in operation.

The artists, songwriters and composers are not  able to get what they deserve to earn despite the amount of effort put in. It will also affect their reputations as their music are being sold and transferred in inferior quality. They will then have no incentive to produce new music.

Retailers are not able to compete with the illegal vendors and the free illegal downloads. They are not able to generate enough revenues, resulting in loss of jobs.

Music pirates may enjoy a moment of happiness from downloading but they will suffer when the music market breaks down and are not longer able to provide them with new music. By downloading music, we are in fact making our computer more vulnerable to virus and spyware as we have no idea what the files that we are downloading contains.

Consumers will also lose out as free illegal downloads may drive up the prices of the songs and albums.

Therefore, from the utilitarianism point of view, piracy affects all the parties in a negative way, resulting in total unhappiness.


The motive of an individual pirating software is to cut cost on buying music and for their own convenience’s sake. If everyone in the world has this same motive, piracy will invade into every part of the world. In order to prevent this from happening, record companies have to come up with anti-piracy measures. Doing this would be time consuming and cause the production of music to be more expensive. This makes the motive illogical and thus would be impermissible.

When we download music illegally, we are not giving the record companies anything in return. As we are not getting any permission from the company, we are merely using the company as a means to get the music. Again, this makes it impermissible.


Studies show that an individual tends to pirate mainly because of social influences. We are easily affected by our surroundings and tend to follow the trend. Experts suggest that besides explaining about the cons of piracy, anti-piracy campaigns should also cover illegal copying of software from our families and friends. Piracy policies and laws should also place emphasis on the consequences of piracy, what negative effects it will bring to the affected parties.

Record companies should also try to reduce the prices of their music as studies show that doing so will reduce the probability of a pirate from obtaining the music from other alternative sources.

Whistle-blowing is another way for us to spot piracy. If we happen to spot someone downloading illegal music in our workplace or school, we may be reluctant to report it. However, if everyone can look for piracy, it will reduce the frequency of piracy from occurring.


In conclusion, piracy is a problem that is hard to eliminate and will most likely remain with us in the future. Instead of getting affected by it, artists should make use of the Internet as a platform to reach a wider public. e.g. Apple and Amazon allow their writers to produce their own books and sell them online by using the iBooks program. Youtube provides a platform for creative artists to present themselves globally.

In order to guard against piracy, all of us have a part to play. We need to respect and comply with the law when it comes to downloading, re-distribution of music.



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.




GPS tracking: Ethical or not?


In the modern society, GPS tracking is becoming more and more common. It can be found in many areas of our lives, such as cell phones and cars. GPS is a powerful tool. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote:

“A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

The ethical issues of using GPS always revolve around the invasion of privacy. However, the definition of privacy is often vague. Currently, no laws are violated for the use of GPS, leading to the rise of numerous ethical issues regarding GPS tracking. In this essay, we are going to discuss why the use of GPS technology causes deep controversies.


Uses of GPS

A Global Positioning System(GPS) has many different functions, such as tracking criminals and parolees, watching spouse who may be cheating, tracking children and teens, employers watching over employees, spying strangers etc.

Tracking criminals and parolees

In the United States, GPS devices such as Trackstick, are secretly installed on the criminals’ cars without their consent. People believe that this can help to prevent crimes as criminals will not be able to make any movement, since they are under the police watch. However, there comes the question of whether this theory really works. This is a quote from an article of CNN that questions this theory:

Experts say GPS can create a false sense of security [when used to track criminals] because its capabilities are overestimated. Jill Levenson, an associate professor of human sciences at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, said many people believe it is “some magic bullet or panacea that prevents crimes.”

Tracking spouse

All marriage has an unspoken rule: You should be faithful to your spouse. Husband and wife should treat each other with respect. You will not be able to know if the other party has cheated on you as they will not admit it in your face. The use of GPS can help one to collect evidence and proof that the other party is a cheater.

Tracking children

Children are at an age where they are vulnerable to dangers. Tracking them with GPS can help to prevent them from getting abducted by strangers, or help to spot their location when they lose their way. Some day care centers in Sweden use GPS to keep track of the children on events such as outings.

Tracking teens

Teens like to keep secrets from their parents. This forces parents to install GPS on them as they are worried about their safety. However, teens are difficult to control. Once they spot the tracking device, they are able to find millions of way to undo them due to the vast amount of information on the Internet. GPS is rendered ineffective when it comes to teens.

Tracking employees

No doubt, GPS is an efficient tool that helps employers save tons of money by watching over the employees’ movement. One example of GPSs used by business is the package delivery service. GPS helps to check whether a particular employee travelled to other locations during package delivery. Business are able to save time and fuel and they can find the shortest route that helps to increase efficiency.

Tracking strangers

Tracking strangers can lead to an extreme action known as stalking. Stalking others is easy for someone who is tech savvy as they can hack into GPS-enabled cell phone. This enables them to track someone 24 hours per day. This is frightening as god knows what the stalker is planning as they know our every movement, even behind closed doors.



Imagine someone spying on you 24 hours a day using GPS. Every single movement you made will be known by someone close to you or worse, some stranger you’ve never even seen before. GPS tracking infringes our basic freedom as human beings. You live in fear as you don’t know what the person watching you is plotting. In a real case example, a man in Ontario found a GPS tracking device under his car. He mentioned that he and his wife couldn’t sleep well at night and they lost sleep at night crying about it. This invasion of privacy can even lead to mental breakdown if it continues for a long time.

The people using GPS devices to track others may gain a moment of pleasure and relieve as they are able to know other people’s movements. If the person they are watching is a close one, once they find out, their relationship will not return back to the way it used to be. For parents watching their teenage children, their parent-child relationship will be torn apart. For wife watching husband, there will be red flags in their marriage. Will they be happy by that time?

Kantian Theory

People use GPS with a simple motive: To know what someone is up to. It is not always bad to watch someone, it depends on who is other party is. If your daughter is being kidnapped by someone, you can use GPS to track her location, saving her in time. Many people argued whether police watching criminals is necessary as it is not always useful. Example: A sex offender equipped with GPS device raped and murdered a thirteen year old girl. I think installing GPS on criminals can minimise the harm that they will cause to society. The criminals know that they are being watched by police, thus they will be aware of their own actions. However, can this totally eliminate crime? If one day, the police decided to stop watching them, it is safe for us to say, they are no longer a potential harm?


GPS tracking is a double edge sword. It can be a valuable asset when it is used to maximise the general welfare of the society. However, many people choose to use it for their own selfish means. In my opinion, we can use GPS tracking, but only for emergency cases.

~Hui Shan