Defining Online Music Piracy

So, what is online music piracy? According to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), if someone makes unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings by online, it would be considered as online music piracy. Nowadays, digital information can be downloaded easily, and they seem to be available everywhere on the Internet. However, the U.S. copyright law has clearly stated that it is prohibited to download or upload copyrighted music without permission (RIAA, 2011).

It is not really clear when people started downloading music. But downloading music was become famous in 1998 after Napster was released and created by Shawn Fanning. Napster was a software program that allowed people around the world to share each other’s music files for free. Within several days, Napster was downloaded and used by thousands of people. Later on, music industry thought that Napster caused the decrease in their revenue, and Napster pirated music. Eileen Richardson, Napster’s CEO in 1998, said that Napster did not violate any law since Napster did not actually host any music. However, music industry kept complaining about Napster. Then in 1999, RIAA sued Napster for facilitating music piracy that was followed by several litigation cases from musicians. Because of so many litigation cases, Napster changed the purpose of their business from offering a music file-sharing software program to offering an Internet music subscription service that sell legitimate online music (Funding Universe, 2011).

After Napster, a lot of software programs and websites are created that provide free music downloading, such as Pirate Bay, Limewire, BitTorrent, 4share, etc. People find it really easy to download and get music for free, which lead to the online music piracy dilemma.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Daniel
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 14:04:35

    With regards to music piracy and from an ethical standpoint, I believe an artist has every right to be angry and seek legal action when their recordings are unwillingly sold for profit or bootlegged by a shady record label or download site. It’s the intellectual property of the artist, who typically writes and composes their own songs. Not to mention, the artist has developed their own way of performing a song, which is documented within the recording.

    In 2011, a judge ruled in favor of singer Paul Collins, whose rock group The Beat lost substantial revenue from a series of unauthorized bootleg recordings released by an underground record label. The recordings were unknowingly engineered during The Beat’s tours with The Police, Eddie Money and The Cure. Although the label argued that the recordings were tracked and mixed by an independent investor during the 1970s and 1980s, Collins was unaware of these dealings and was awarded an unspecified amount of damages. Collins was granted permission to digitally re-master and officially release the live recordings. In response to backlash and negative publicity from fans accusing him of being greedy, Collins attempted to make a public statement about piracy. In 2012, Collins made the recordings available to everyone as free MP3 download tracks to fans worldwide.

    Some fans might argue that Metallica was selfish to target Napster for illegally offering their music as MP3s. In all fairness, not everyone victimized by piracy are platinum-selling, wealthy artists in the caliber of Metallica. Paul Collins had just as much right to take legal action, but he turned the negative situation into a positive one by publicly releasing the pirated material as free downloads to his fans. Case in point, not all rock stars are selfish or “only in it for the money.” Musicians have a right to be paid for their intellectual property. People who support music piracy only think about themselves. If a musician isn’t being paid for their work, how are they supposed to continue recording, writing, performing and touring? Musicians aren’t slaves and if they aren’t making enough money to function, then they might choose a different career path that doesn’t involve making music.

    Reply

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