When thinking about topics like piracy and file sharing the first thing that comes to mind is that they are illegal. While it is true that obtaining music illegally and sharing music illegally is not ok, it is also true that it has positively affected the entertainment industry in terms of sales. First, lets define what these terms are.
Piracy is the act of illegally downloading some form of digital entertainment without paying for it. It could be music, movies, or even books. According to RIAA examples of piracy include making a MP3 copy of a song you bought, but then putting that copy on the internet for anyone to download it, joining a file-sharing network and downloading unauthorized copies of copyrighted music for free, and (one of the most common) making a copy of an album you bought and giving it to your friend.
File sharing goes hand in hand with piracy. It is the practice of transmitting files from one computer to another over a network (the internet), but it is not always illegal. According to Chapter 4. “Piracy” there are many kinds of file sharing. The first type are “users who download instead of purchasing.” The second type are those who use file sharing just to sample songs before buying them. The third type are those who use it to download copyrighted content that is either no longer sold or too high in cost to purchase. The last type use it to download content that is not copyrighted or has been given permission to download for free.
Now, lets bring back up the initial issue. Is piracy and file-sharing negatively effecting the entertainment industry?
According to Lily Rothman on Time Magazine a recent study by Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martins found that “illegal music downloads essentially had no effect on the number of legal music downloads.” They also found that the majority of the music that was illegally downloaded by those in the study still wouldn’t have purchased that music if illegal downloading sites weren’t available. What this essentially means is that the study found that the songs that were being illegally downloaded still wouldn’t have made any money if illegal downloading sites weren’t around. It kind of makes you think no harm, no foul, right?
According to Piracy isn’t killing the entertainment industry, scholars show by Ernesto on TorrentFreak, sites like SoundCloud and YouTube are actually having a positive effect on the entertainment industry in terms of promotion. People are using these sites to sample songs before they go out and purchase them. They may be getting a couple songs for free, but in the long run they are still making more money off of it than before file-sharing sites were around. Ernesto also explains that researchers have found that file-sharers are actually spending more money on entertainment than those who don’t.
What do you think? Do you feel that file-sharing in moderation could actually be a good thing or do you feel we should write it off altogether? Keep in mind the question raised by Lily Rothman from Time Magazine: “If you went into a store to steal a candy bar and, in the process, found lots of other stuff you were willing to pay for, would that make it okay to steal the candy?” Does the one candy bar really matter in the grand scheme of things?