Piracy is a multifaceted issue. There’s no doubt about that, and record labels are not happy.
Ever since the start of the 21st century, the number of peer-to-peer websites (where people are able to share files through a central network) skyrocketed. Recently, music labels sued YouTube ripping sites and they want $150,000 for every illegal download. Considering how many people pirated copyrighted content, the figure would most likely stack up in the billions. This made me think, why is the fine so high?
Four years ago, I made made a speech at school advocating against pirating. The act of infringing copyrights is immoral and technically a crime, but it’s hard for people to get caught. Through research, I learned that piracy robs artists and record labels of money, with billions of dollars lost each year and tens of thousands of potential jobs lost. I ended the speech by stating that it’s morally correct to pay for the content, and we should stop pirating all together, knowing that online piracy would go on forever.
Today, the problem of piracy is still prevalent. Although I still believe that pirating intellectual content is wrong and the internet pirates out there probably won’t get caught, I now have an understanding of why people do so. First, for those who’ve taken EC 101, or any microeconomics course, you probably know the term “rationality,” which is acting upon what best interests you. Internet pirates are like us: rational self-interested human beings. They would rather download a song illegally for free online than pay money for it. It’s likely they would feel guilty for stealing the content. However, the reward outweighs the risk for them.
Also, it makes sense that pirating hurts the economy, but do the music industry and the artists really need that much more money? Taylor Swift chose not to have her music streamed on Spotify because she earns more money when people buy her music than when her songs are played on Spotify. However, her net worth was more than $200 million this year. Surely, she has enough money to last a lifetime, so why doesn’t she want her music to be on Spotify?
On the other end of the spectrum, imagine a world where pirating doesn’t exist. Would we expect the music purchases to increase tenfold? In a perfect world, people would buy the music, but I think people would more likely choose not to purchase the content. I believe that people either pirate or not buy at all.
If you’re an Internet Pirate on campus, I have a few cautions to throw at you. First, pirate at your own discretion. Read up on the penalties that comes from pirating. If you get caught, you could potentially get fined a lot of money. Also, don’t brag to your friends about the songs you downloaded illegally, and definitely don’t share the content with others. If these scare you off, music streaming apps such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora are risk-free alternatives for your music listening desires.