How Much More Can We Take

I got my first computer seven months ago. I was then ignorant to the world of free music I was living in. My roommate downloaded the Imesh software for me. This bit of software, which took up little space on my hard drive and maybe a half hour to download, has been part of the next big wave of technology. It allows its user to download shared files from other users anywhere with the same software.

“You are going to need this throughout college,” my roommate let me in on this useful money saving secret. I could always do so as long as I had an internet connection.

The software allows its users the ability to download music, movies, pictures, and more. The most downloaded files are music files, in the form of MP3’s. The downloading of music has become a hobby for almost anyone with a computer. It is also an illegal hobby that has our nation downloading daily. This is the largest crime spree in my knowledgeable history of humankind. The fact that people are downloading files isn’t where they are unjust. The true crime comes out when these files are of copyrighted works.

People can copy CDs onto their hard drives then let others use them over these file trading networks. The labels on CDs clearly state, “Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws,” this meaning that no one is allowed to even copy the CD without the approval of the copyright holders.

The day has come when our technology has allowed people to pass along illegally copied files and get away with it. I don’t think I can remember a single day going by in the past few months when I haven’t heard at least one comment made about what somebody downloaded the previous night. People are helplessly playing in this criminal playground on the internet. In their defense, America has become demoralized. The values within households have diminished. Our government no longer puts an emphasis on the righteousness of our people. So why would anyone care if they were unlawfully cheating the record companies and the artists? There’s really no way to predict how immense this problem could get or how fast it could escalate.

Should record companies even have to accommodate for their consumers’ wrongdoing? No doubt they are going to try for the simple reason that they want their business to thrive. There are possibly some ways to counteract the shift in how we acquire music. Three articles stood out in their support of new ideas to shield the abundance of the dishonesty of copying music.

Warren Cohen describes in his article, The Day the (Pirated) Music Died, in the November 2001 issue of Fortune, how new technological advancements in the music industry could stop piracy. He gives details on how the system works then goes on to explain how record companies still aren’t appealing to the overall consumer market.

Cohen spoke out with lyrics from a well known rap song “‘Copy-written so don’t copy me,’ warns rapper Missy Elliot on her ‘Get Ur Freak On’ single.”(1) He explains that some artists are finally backing their recording companies by letting them release albums with the technology to safeguard them from copiers. This idea would seem like the ideal solution to the music industry’s problem. But as it turns out, there is one problem with the solution. The advanced CDs have a glitch that isn’t going to fare well with the consumer. “The CDs will function just fine on most home stereos and Walkmen, but when placed in a computer’s CD-ROM drive, they’ll be virtually unlistenable—and unswappable over file-trading networks.”(2)

The consumer will not buy CDs if they cannot play them on their computer. That’s the most used medium for all things now. The computer is used in practically everyone’s daily life. In order for these companies to catch a consumer’s eye, they are going to have to do it on computers for today’s computer confident teenagers. “Says Dennis Mudd, president of software firm Musicmatch: ‘If consumers no longer buy CDs, and then go to the underground peer-to-peer sites to download music, piracy would be accelerated.’”(5)

Just recently, another solution has risen to help stop the climb in stolen music. Konstantinos Karagiannis provided in his article, Pay-and-Play Music Services: EMusic, PressPlay, RealOne Music, featured in the March 2002 issue of PC Magazine, hopes of setting a new trend in the music industry. He reviewed and criticized the three web sites offering tracks for a fee giving good reasons to allure this PC intelligent group.

For a price of around ten dollars, the three reviewed web sites were all comparable. Each of them provided fewer songs and artists than the religiously followed Napster. In the end the victor would be the site with the most to offer its consumers. (8) Quality and content is what the computer literate down loaders want. The quality seems to be almost all there. The lack of content is where the sites are going to lose their appeal to this group.

This seems to be the movement that the record companies need to make. That way they can still provide their services it would just be through a different means. All of the record companies are going to have to push to get this to happen. Otherwise, some artists aren’t going to have their music downloadable over the internet except for illegally. This would provide music pirates another reason to keep on illicitly sharing files.

On AOL News January 22, 2003, Ted Bridis explains, in his article, Net Providers Must Aid in Piracy Fight, how a federal ruling could possibly put the internet service providers in charge of fixing the problem. This would place them with the labor of singling out consumers who illegally trade copyrighted files.

Verizon Communications Inc. was the internet service provider waging this out in the courtroom. “Verizon promised to appeal and said it would not immediately disclose its customer’s identity. The ruling had ‘troubling ramifications’ for future growth of the Internet, said Verizon’s associate general counsel, Sarah B. Deutsch.” (5) Undoubtedly the internet service providers would lose customers by releasing their names to copyright holders, who in turn would more than likely sue the customer. That would put internet service providers out of business, and change the way people obtain information and communicate.

All three of these solutions have another problem within them. At least some people are making an effort to fight the war against copyright infringement. That’s more than some people can say. Especially the one’s who sit back and churn out a CD a day and not think twice about the people they are not allowing to receive their due revenues.

The largest part of the problem with pirated music is the lessened values of today’s people, and the fact that some people don’t know that downloading these files is illegal. America has been so instilled with the idea that we are a free country and that pretty much anything goes that people have started to believe anything is for anybody’s taking. If we can’t go to a restaurant and eat, then leave without paying, then why should we be allowed to steal music? Because most people would only steal if they thought they could do it without getting punished. That’s why people continue to take music, simply because there is no firm reason to press us into not doing it. With recent lawsuits over this notorious issue I believe people are beginning to realize the damage that has been caused. With that said, more consumers would probably still download music over the internet, though they would pay money to get it.

I guess my roommate was right when he told me I could save money. I’ve downloaded my fair share of songs and have reaped those benefits. I was unknowingly taking from the people who provide me with a service. That service is entertainment and that service holds people’s jobs. Now it’s too late to go back and give the record companies and the artists their rightful money. We can’t replace the damage we’ve caused to these people. The only thing we can do is support new programs and ideas for the development of an improved and more accessible music industry. It’s our turn to help give back. That’s the least we could do.

Works Cited

  • Bridis, Ted. “Net Providers Must Aid in Piracy Fight.” AOL News. January 22, 2003.
  • Cohen, Warren. “The Day The (Pirated) Music Died.” Fortune November 2001: p52+.
  • Karagiannis, Konstantinos. “Pay-and-Play Music Services: EMusic, PressPlay, RealOne Music.” PC Magazine March 2002: p32+