Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Snidey Vodka
Mar 19, 2008
In recent years, record labels have taken to complaining vociferously about music piracy and MP3 freeloaders. According to figures being thrown about, the industry is losing around $4 - 5 billion a year due to piracy. (Note that the RIAA claims the global music market generates $40 billion per year, yet the the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry a global organisation set up by the RIAA - claims piracy accounts for fully a third of the market.)
I don't intend to argue about the accuracy of those figures even if the maths obviously doesn't add up. My concern is with the assumptions they're based on.
First of all, we need to distinguish between music distributed for free via P2P networks or home CD burning, and music being sold. It's an important distinction to make, because the music industry has a bad habit of lumping them together and treating them as the same when they aren't. In it's 2006 report on music piracy, the IFPI depicts P2P networks and bit-torrent sites as agents of piracy, despite the fact that they have fundamentally different purposes.
Doubtless you have seen some of these dumb propaganda adverts put out by both the record and film industries which try to link piracy (and implicitly, filesharing) with terrorism. Well.... perhaps piracy does fund terrorism.... but filesharing? The whole point of filesharing is that it's free there's no money involved anywhere, so how can it possibly fund terrorism?
It's a simple point really, but the record industry seems to be deliberately confusing the two. Despite their claims, a kid downloading tracks for free from Limewire isn't remotely similar to a multinational criminal cartel. I know there are plenty of websites out there selling MP3s for next to nothing. I know they can do this because they didn't pay for the actual production of the music and they aren't paying any royalties, so they have no real costs to recoup. I know this gives them an unfair advantage over record labels and that by undercutting them like this, they are depriving artists of their income. I don't deny that this is morally and legally wrong. The record industry is quite right to try and stop it.
But it is also dead wrong to prosecute people who download tracks for free. That is a stupid and heavy-handed approach which has achieved nothing other than revealing that the music industry is run by quasi-fascist greedheads....
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