Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Music piracy : Nothing to gain, everything to lose

Music piracy and the protection of recording artists is an issue that I am extremely passionate about and an issue I follow quite frequently.  As a performing artist, I believe that supporting music and purchasing albums is how we respect and perpetuate artistic growth.  Please reference a recent essay I wrote regarding the topic below.

Music piracy is the copying and distributing a piece of music for which the composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company did not give consent.  Music piracy is a form of copyright infringement, which is a crime in many countries.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw much controversy about copyright piracy regarding many aspects involved in the activity of illegal downloading.  More portals and websites for illegal downloading and file sharing among peers seemed to be more abundant during this time as well.  These aspects included the act of redistributing media content, how much production and distribution companies in the media were losing due to piracy, and the very scope of what ought to be considered piracy.  The cases involving piracy were most discussed in debate as to determine how to define the act and how to treat individual cases of illegal downloading.

The term commonly known is “piracy” but that’s too small of a term to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the gigantic cast of industry personnel working hard behind the scenes to bring the high quality music to your ears.  The cast of music personnel includes songwriters, recording artists, audio engineers, computer technicians, scouts, producers, publishers, and many, many other people that help the music industry stay afloat.

It seems that simply one individual downloading one song may not feel like a serious crime or be harmless at all.  The true harm is the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally.  This massive accumulation means not compensating any of the people who helped create that song and make it available to the masses and music fans.  This reality is devastating to all the employees of the music industry.  A study conducted by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates the annual harm at $12.5 billion in losses to the U.S. economy.  In addition to the economy, 70,000 lost jobs are a result and $2 billion in lost wages to American workers.

When all the accumulated losses are pulled together, it makes one think again about downloading one song or potentially album illegally to save a few dollars in the process.  Especially when a lot of pirated downloads are not even the correct quality one would purchase normally on iTunes or through a legitimate purchasing music venue.  As a performing artist myself, I would personally be crushed to not be paid any compensation for all the hours I put into producing music and ensuring that it was a high quality product to release to the masses.  I would additionally be crushed to learn that I wasn’t supported monetarily and would find it hard to keep producing music if I received no respect for the art I was producing.  In turn, I am against music piracy, even in the smallest of forms, every illegally downloaded song adds up to millions of losses for all those in the music industry.

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