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Illegal downloading: The real cost of ‘free’ music

Those who download music illegally should think of how they are negatively impacting artists and the economy.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MCT CAMPUS

Everyone loves free stuff: whether it’s free food samples at Costco or a free gift with purchase at a favorite retail store. With the economy the way it is, people will take as much free stuff as they can.

Even more exciting than getting free food samples is getting free music downloads. But downloading music raises an ethical question: “Is it stealing?” The answer is yes. Just because it’s easy to do and hard to get caught doing, downloading music from unauthorized sites is stealing.

Downloading free music is breaking copyright laws, which was exactly the point the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was trying to make by suing LimeWire for copyright infringement. The RIAA is entitled to $150,000 for each registered work infringed. The number of infringing works is likely in the millions — which is absolutely too many songs being stolen.

Copyright laws exist to help protect the artists’ intellectual work, and the people who are making money from the artists’ music, such as the record company, stores that sell the music and the artists themselves.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, 95 percent of music downloaded online is illegal. In hopes of lessening illegal downloading, the RIAA attempted to make an example of LimeWire and scare other companies away from using file sharing.

The lead singer of local band Bernen Fir Jeff Cochran does not approve of illegal downloading.

“If you want to support the band you like, you’ll buy their albums,” Cochran said. “It’s different for local music to be downloaded for free, as opposed to corporate level, because you want people to listen to your music as a local artist and you’ll do anything to be on their play list.”

It’s one thing for bands to give out their music for free. It’s another when a band who isn’t giving away free music is being stolen from — especially from their so-called “fans.” If these people care about the well-being of their favorite bands and are genuine fans, they’ll take responsibility for their actions and stop stealing music.

When people download free music, they probably aren’t thinking of all the people they are affecting. According to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation, music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs are lost with a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings. People who download free music might as well be laying these workers off themselves.

Ammon Roberts, a senior biology major, agrees it is wrong to illegally download.

“I don’t do it because I don’t feel it’s right,” Roberts said. “If I were making the music, I’d be upset if people were downloading it for free.”

Most people wouldn’t go out and steal a shirt from a retailer, or steal a car from a car dealer. These people are causing others not to make the money they worked hard for and deserve.

“I used to download music for free all the time, but I started feeling bad, seeing as though I’m an artist now,” said Cochran.

Now, others who download music illegally need to echo the sentiments of Cochran and buy music the way it was intended — legally.


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35 Comments on Illegal downloading: The real cost of ‘free’ music

  1. Peter Brett, PPUK // Feb 28, 2011 at 5:21 am //

    You missed, "I think it's ethical but I don't do it because it's illegal" as an option on your poll.

  2. Peter Brett, PPUK // Feb 28, 2011 at 5:29 am //

    This is yet another opinion piece that presents only one point of view, based on extremely shaky data that has been proven by Ben Goldacre of The Guardian newspaper to be based only on record industry press releases laundered through "independent" studies financed by the record industry. The author doesn't even bother to critically examine the claims that copying a song is equivalent to stealing a car (it's not), or that sharing recorded music harms artists livelihoods (hundreds of indie artists agree the opposite, and their viewpoint is substantiated by actual independent, peer-reviewed academic research).

    "The real cost of 'free' music"? Nope.

    [youtube IeTybKL1pM4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4 youtube]

    • So what happens to the people working at the bike factory when everyone just copies their work? Do they ever create new bikes, or is everyone happy with the same red one like in your cartoon?

      • seriously? your point is invalid, mainly because there was no point to your statement whatsoever. you entirely missed the point of the video, and the bike analogy made absolutely no sense.

  3. dreamingape // Feb 28, 2011 at 5:33 am //

    so what does this piece do? does it put forward solutions? does it put forward new insights? neither, it's just another piece in the long line of articles on both sides of the argument that are just too busy preaching to the choir.

  4. Mr. Twocents // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm //

    I always find it interesting that at no point do these types of articles discuss the ridiculous cost of a cd that you can have reproduced professionally at about a buck a piece that in these difficult economic time the record companies have no problem charging upwards of $20 for, or the fact that the record companies have no problems charging an artist some exorbitant feel to record said album. It seems that as per usual record companies and thier supporters are only interested in their bottom line and forget that the reason they have jobs is because we as the consumer have allowed them to rape an entire industry of people decade after decade.

  5. I could be wrong, but it seems as though artists make more money these days off of their fame than their music. See: Justin Beiber. Though I realize this is probably not true of smaller bands.
    I say screw em. Most of the music that comes out these days is crap anyhow. Do you think for a second that Janis Joplin would have cared if someone stole her music? Hell no. She was drunk 24/7. Hendrix was out of his mind frying balls all day. And they created some of the best music ever. And to be honest, none of the greats would have cared that people wanted their music bad enough to steal it. And the bottom line is that if someone doesn't want your music bad enough to steal it, then your music is dog vomit.

    • Totally agree with you! If artist want to make money off of singing. They have to do live concerts in order to make money. Selling CDs and Albums wouldn't work anymore. Since piracy will never end can never be stop!

  6. What's not considered is the net economic benefit of people not sending that $20. in to those record industry executives, but instead having an extra $20. to spend in the local economy. Plus, rather than just affording one new CD a month, today's youth can enjoy thousands of new titles in the same period, making them more informed music consumers, better musicians themselves sometimes, and usually better people because they are much better entertained, and entertainment help people relax. Plus, when people share stuff, other people get to know them, and get to like them because they like what they like, and people like people to like them. People who share cool stuff are cool. So, you can't really stop that, can you. Plus, maybe most importantly, when people find something they like they say, "Who did I get that from?" and they check out what else that person has to share. This way they are way more likely to find stuff they like than if they just randomly listen to whoever the recording industry executives want them to listen to today.

  7. Its 2011. Music used to be a product but now its a service. When are major record labels going to realize that? Why won't they figure out a system and adapt to the future instead of whining about all the money in potential profits they are losing? Internet has allowed bands to thrive without even being signed, and thats why indie is exploding.

  8. Hello there, could we place this article to our website?

  9. Man the people represented in this blog are really clueless. You can NOT equate "stealing music" (please note the quotes) to stealing a car or shirt! A car takes thousands of man hours to manufacture. As does a shirt but less. How many hours does a song take to manufacture… Uh how about ZERO! and then there's the distribution costs. Ditto; Nothing. So lets focus now on the major labels. Courtney Love is right; THEY are the ones who steal. They corralled musicians into terrible contracts where the wrong people make the money. Check out the distribution of a song bought "legally" on I Tunes. 80% goes to OTHER entities than the band. NOW THAT IS ILLEGAL.

    • Yah your sort of an idiot. It may not take long to physically manufacture the cd, but your not considering the man hours, the creativity, all of the people that it takes to put together every song. How about the technology it takes to produce the cds? ALL OF THESE THINGS COST MONEY. Overhead is what it is called in the business world, obviously something you know nothing about. So next time you decide to post something, please think before you do.

    • idiot, have you ever recorded a song before? Have you ever spent SEVERAL WEEKS tracking in a $40-an-hour studio, sent your album to a $60-an-hour mixing engineer and waited about a week, and then to a $100-an-hour mastering engineer for several days, then spent thousands of dollars to manufacture the CD's? You have no idea what you're talking about.

  10. "How many hours does a song take to manufacture… Uh how about ZERO!"

    That's wrong. Ever heard of sound mixers and producers? It may not take as many physical resources, but it takes a lot of time and energy on peoples' parts.

  11. Raising the age old question of "why would you charge money for art?" As a musician myself, why would I ever try to put a price tag on something that is beautiful and personal.

    • Truer words have never been spoken, sir. I find it hilarious that the ones who are complaining the loudest–like Metallica and Ozzy–have million dollar mansions and everything they could ever ask for, but bands who don't make nearly as much, like Fran Healy of Travis and The Offspring (okay bad example, I know but just bare with me) are in full support of it. Shouldn't those who aren't making that money be complaining? I don't know about anyone else, but that makes me totally sick.

  12. The link in the article to the interviewed band Bernen Fir is dead, here is the actual link ! Check it out they have great music! http://bernenfir.com/

  13. Bitter much? How's that music career working out for ya? I'll be sure to look out for your latest jam when i'm stealing music in mass. Har d har.

  14. An artist enjoying his friends at a restaurant was approached by a lady that recognized him and asked him to draw her picture for her. He took a moment and flawlessly rendered her image on a napkin.

    As he handed her the picture he said, "That'll be ten thousand dollars, please."

    "What?! Ten thousand dollars!? It only took you a moment to make it!!", the woman cried.

    "That's right," he said, "and, thirty years of practice."

  15. idahocrystal // Mar 7, 2011 at 11:56 am //

    One of the first things I learned as an artist:
    It's only worth what someone's willing to pay for it…

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  17. A couple of years ago a NC police officer who was RECORDED discussing downloading for free. The officer named the name Kazaa which has appeared in numerous lawsuits and talked about how the songs were arranged in groups and you choose the songs and just click and get them. He said it was the thing to do everybody was doing it. He bet his daughters had downloaded a THOUSAND SONGS on his computer. He said he had to get a new computer his old one FILLED UP WITH MEMORY. He laughed and said he hoped the federal government did not come in and investigate
    Shortly after this conversation we began reading the news articles people were being sued by RIAA and the FBI. They were calling piracy a crime of stealing and calling these people thieves. The RIAA and the FBI on their websites encourage people to report piracy. The FBI Anti Piracy Warning says they investigate. At that time we reported the officer's conversation as well as his name to the RIAA and the FBI. It was ignored. ignored. We continue to report this and it continues to be ignored

    • I am a reporter in LA and have a deep eye on this issue because of last few years i had worked on getting the reason behind the stolen music, It surely is illegal and being a company or a store they have to take care of laws otherwise there is a strong reason for the state to take some serious and strict actions against those companies, No doubt that number of these cases is in about thousands but with the first step taken towards it we will surely beat this mafia. Only the strict and straight actions against the companies doing this junk can make it happen.

      Nathan

  18. Not only is free music downloading a detriment to the music industry, it is also illegal. Many people don’t even think twice about what the artists get from the songs you are downloading for free. Eventually the whole world will be downloading illegally, which will most likely lead to the crash of the music industry, and artists will not want to publish songs any more since they will not be getting paid. If you are the singer, and people download your music for free, how would you feel? The singers feel sad, when someone downloads their music for free, therefore we have to do something about it.

  19. A couple of years ago a Reidsville NC police officer was RECORDED by my daughter discussing downloading for free. The officer named the name Kazaa which has appeared in numerous lawsuits and talked about how the songs were arranged in groups and you choose the songs and just click and get them. He said it was the thing to do everybody was doing it. He bet his daughters had downloaded a THOUSAND SONGS on his computer. He said he had to get a new computer his old one FILLED UP WITH MEMORY. He laughed and said he hoped the federal government did not come in and investigate him.

    Shortly after this conversation we began reading the news articles people were being sued by RIAA and the FBI. They were calling piracy a crime of stealing and calling these people thieves. The RIAA and the FBI on their websites encourage people to report piracy. The FBI Anti Piracy Warning says they investigate. At that time we reported the officer's conversation as well as his name to the RIAA and the FBI. It was ignored.

  20. dragonreaper2725 // Apr 28, 2011 at 10:11 am //

    well i think that it is stupid that they are still trying to enforce this law seeing as how itr can never be fully contained. and i do not think it should be illegal because someone probably bought it in the begining

  21. A couple of years ago a Reidsville NC police officer was RECORDED by my daughter discussing downloading for free. The officer named the name Kazaa which has appeared in numerous lawsuits and talked about how the songs were arranged in groups and you choose the songs and just click and get them. He said it was the thing to do everybody was doing it. He bet his daughters had downloaded a THOUSAND SONGS on his computer. He said he had to get a new computer his old one FILLED UP WITH MEMORY. He laughed and said he hoped the federal government did not come in and investigate him.

    Shortly after this conversation we began reading the news articles people were being sued by RIAA and the FBI. They were calling piracy a crime of stealing and calling these people thieves. The RIAA and the FBI on their websites encourage people to report piracy. The FBI Anti Piracy Warning says they investigate. At that time we reported the officer's conversation as well as his name to the RIAA and the FBI. It was ignored.

  22. All I have to say is I could buy every copy of CCR albums in the world and I wouldn't be helping the band any bit. Most artists make their money from doing tours because the record company gets most of the money from album sales. Besides that, 90% of the artists I listen to are dead….so yeah, I'm kinda against lining the pockets of the crooked music industry heads who abuse the artists. I think they are so content on earning the billions of dollars earned via lawsuits; They aren't the least bit concerned with trying to change their business structure. Most corporations ask the government for a bailout when going through financial hard times, instead the music industry asks the courts for a lawsuit. The reason most artists get terrible contracts is because the record labels have power over the artists. Most artists are looking for a break and take the first one they get. They get stuck with a bad contract because it's sold to them as "This is the only shot your going to get it. It's this or nothing." It's almost like selling your soul to the devil to get the one thing you desire most in life.

  23. Can anyone tell me if you can really download free music from this site http://www.legalfreemusicdownloads.com?

    Or is just a scam or something?

  24. Can anyone tell me if you can really download free music from this site http://www.legalfreemusicdownloads.com?

    Or is just a scam or something?

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