We have heard the warnings, we sympathize for those negatively affected, and some of us have even suffered the consequences, so why have we refused to put an end to music piracy? The fact of the matter is many of us download free music files without a second thought because the act has simply become so familiar and ordinary. The number of people who download has only increased despite efforts by the Recording Industry Institute of America and some college campuses to scare students away from the habit. What explains our continued support of this so-called stealing, despite all of the attempts of artists, songwriters and production companies to stop us?
In addition to music advocacy groups and concerned distribution companies, many artists and songwriters have stepped up to explain their views on illegal downloads. One of the most common arguments of these artists is the downloading community has misconceptions that artists aren't affected because they can make their millions from live performances, tours and memorabilia. The claim of multi-platinum Grammy-winning artists, however, is one of self-pity, arguing the average songwriter-artist is fortunate to make any money at all from their craft and is merely trying to make a decent living. Although I understand the existence of struggling musicians and those trying to get a foot in the door, I also have a hard time sympathizing for them when they hide behind wealthy, well-known stars who make the claim of lost funds completely unbelievable and take away from any actual element of suffering.
Another supposed downfall of music piracy is the decline in fans tuning into the radio. However, most artists realize radio time will not drastically impact concert and tour sales, it is instead the advertisers who are threatened by the possibility of fewer listeners. It is details like this that make us want to ignore the hype, since many of us switch stations to bypass advertisements anyway. Obeying the plea of these advertisers actually has very little to do with the musicians themselves, taking away from our need to stop what we're doing.
Our decision to continue downloading is encouraged still by has-been artists and writers who attempt to use the idea of \music stealing"" as an excuse for a decreasing income. Often these musicians are one-hit-wonders or past artists who have simply lost their popularity and novelty, and listeners, in turn, have lost the desire to own their music. Often, these artists attempt to reap the benefits of lawsuits that have no application to their specific music, a pathetic endeavor on their part.
For many beginning artists, the Internet is one of the only ways to publicize and promote their bands and music. Oddly enough, these bands are quick to complain about illegal downloading when they are the ones who initiated the availability of their music on websites to begin with. Other artists agree listeners should be able to ""get a taste"" for the music by downloading one or two songs, but it shouldn't go any further than that. If we are permitted by artists to download music without repercussions once, then how are we to distinguish when this act suddenly becomes illegal?
The recent target of college students in this battle has sparked some confusion as well. The RIAA and some music vendors have decided to aim their dispute primarily in our direction with the knowledge that college campuses are leading such file exchanges. The music industry has made a distinct effort to use a scare tactic against all students in the hopes that challenging the illegal behavior will thin out the rising numbers of participants. The RIAA even believes if students continue to illegally download music, the parents of these students will step in to discourage the behavior. This assumption is baseless, however, because parents often care little about the downloading habits of their children and even more often are unaware that the downloading is even taking place.
Internet users believe they are entitled to any information that passes over their computer screen cost-free. The act of downloading music might never be condoned in a money-obsessed society, but it's not surprising that its popularity is still rising. The fact of the matter is, we should continue obtaining music files that are as rightfully ours as anyone else's. Living in fear of punishment over something as innocent as enjoying music is insane and I say we give those in seek of monetary advancement a run for their money.