Is downloading music stealing? The record industry seems to think so. I think it is a resounding no. Sebastian Anthony writes in his article “Why I Pirate”:
“The RIAA, MPAA, and others continue to spin piracy as theft, but we know that’s not true: I’m not taking my game
from anyone. It’s not like Little Timmy arrives home to find out that he can’t play Lego Star Wars because Sebastian
has stolen the grubby disc.” (Anthony 2012)
It isn’t like downloading music is depriving the CD’s owner of their property. The music business gives songs away for free on the radio, and courts have found that recording songs from the radio is legal for private use. (Audio Home Recording Act) I fail to see how downloading that same song from the internet is a crime. It isn’t stealing it’s making a copy, which is legal to do with one medium but not another.
I can understand how the original person that rips the music off the CD and makes it available could be a criminal, or the person that resells copies of software. At this point though reselling your copy of a CD falls into a grey area of legality. Turns out you may not even own what you purchased. This is only for music, it’s not like reselling cars or televisions that were purchased legally is even questionable.
Whether or not I believe it is a crime aside, in reality it is a crime and it isn’t a victimless crime. The artist doesn’t make money on the sale of that song. Not that much money was made on digital sales by the artist anyway. The record label is getting over 500% more than the artist on a digital album download. (Anthony 2012) I guess it is okay for the labels to rob artists. Rather than pointing the finger at illegal downloading as the sole factor for lost revenues, maybe it is time to rethink the paradigm of the music business. After all concert attendance has been at its lowest levels ever. (Sisario 2011) It is unreasonable to think that illegal downloading has lowered concert attendance. It seems to me that the tactics of the recording industry trying to stop piracy are indicative of the death throes of an obsolete industry.
Audio Home Recording Act. 1992. 17 C.F.R. section 1008.
Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/1008
Anthony, Sebastian. 2012. Extreme Tech. “Why I Pirate.”
Retrieved from http://www.extremetech.com/computing/114493-why-i-pirate
Sisario, Ben. 2011. New York Times. “Lower Attendance Hurts Live Nation Revenue”.
Retrieved from http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/lower-attendance-hurts-live-nation-revenue/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0