General Question

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111 Answers

steve6's avatar

I don’t do it, it’s wrong. (He says standing in front of his pirate ship, aarg).

queenzboulevard's avatar

Morally, it is stealing so it is wrong. However, morals don’t stop my generation from doing anything.

meemorize's avatar

IF the artists would get the money i pay for a cd I would feel compelled to buy music. But paying $20–30 for a cd — a medium which costs next to nothing to physically produce — is simply outrageous.
I think priracy is a statement that a system is broken. In this case the production/promoting and selling of music thus I only buy the cd’s if i know that at least a decent amount of my money is going to the artist. (some artist even sell their albums via online directly excluding corporations all together.)

TitsMcGhee's avatar

Of course I do it, but I’ve actually beendoing more downloading from free and legal blogs, my favorites of which are moteldemoka, songbytoad, and saidthegramophone.

steve6's avatar

Part (most) of the reason music sucks so badly in this era is the per cent of people stealing music. To combat this, record companies pull an untalented nobody off the street, prop them up with canned music and hype, then they don’t have to pay them as much. That’s why they usually just have one album, get thrown back on the streets before they can ask for a raise, and none of this so-called music or these “artists” will go down as being classic. Hence, crappy music.

shockvalue's avatar

@queenz: Actually, internet piracy isn’t stealing at all! To steal is to remove something from its original place. Pirating is just copying. The original content remains intact, but now I’ve got a copy of it too!

Piracy is not theft: A handy guide!

steve6's avatar

@shockvalue, Did you just answer your own question? What are your thoughts on my previous comment?

funkdaddy's avatar

That seems pretty flimsy shock… if I take your art and use it as the basis for an ad campaign, or even present it as my own, nothing physical has been stolen but I would imagine you would still feel slighted on the deal…

@steve6 your previous comment seemed like you were trying to stir something up and get a response, asking for a response makes it appear even more likely, there’s good and bad music in any “era”

shockvalue's avatar

Eeh, my piracy logic has strong roots in With that said, don’t listen to a word I say.

However, your example is slightly different. I am not downloading music and then claiming it as my own. What you have described is plagiarism. And that is illegal, if not wholly unscrupulous.

shockvalue's avatar

@steve6: My “thoughts on [your] previous comment” are as follows: Actually, I’m not really sure that’s true at all. What artists do you know that were signed and then dropped solely to combat music piracy? Furthermore, I agree with funkdaddy in that every era has good and bad music. It may seem like more music is bad simply because there is so much more music being produced today than ever before. I’m sure the ratio of “good” to “bad” has remained relatively constant.

madcapper's avatar

Umm anything to do with pirating is automatically cool and therefore done as often as possible by me!

queenzboulevard's avatar

^ The FBI is going to be watching us all for the next 72 hours just for talking about illegally downloading music…..I will not be downloading anything until that time is up.

madcapper's avatar

haha I was always worried about how lame it would be to get arrested for pirating over the net but then I continued to “borrow” thousand dollar programs like the Adobe suite I just got and so I don’t think it’s such a big deal because those programs shouldn’t cost so much! I am a student damn it!

steve6's avatar

A huge majority of artist never make the big money. How many rap artists will go down as classic music and still be played 20–30 years from now?

shockvalue's avatar

@ steve6: It doesn’t matter as long as Tupac and Biggie make the list!

steve6's avatar

@capper, Is the Adobe suite any good? What does it entail?

steve6's avatar

I like Tupac. Did you see that movie he was in with the guy from Pulp Fiction? Tim Roth I think. It was great!

madcapper's avatar

I shall respond when I install it all. It just finished downloading this afternoon and I haven’t messed with it since. But I will update you…

LKidKyle1985's avatar

When I was 8 I would record songs off the radio with my tape recorder, and when i was 12 I recorded my favorite music videos with the VCR. And then when i was 14 Napster became popular. But for some reason the first 2 examples are legal, but my last example is illegal. Not sure what the difference is, so I have no moral conflict when I download my favorite songs off the internet.

steve6's avatar

@lkid, I taped albums I purchased, maybe once or twice a friend’s album. What’s the statute of limitations on vinyl?

LKidKyle1985's avatar

on vinyl? I suppose it wouldn’t be any different. If you have a song being played on vinyl and you want to record it to something its all the same.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Also, I am not sure what the music industry is trying to prove. If I want I can make a playlist of any song by using Youtube. And then its just a simple trick to record it to my Pc after that. shrugs And what if I record those songs off the radio to a tape, and then transfer the tape to my pc? is that illegal too? Well maybe illegal, but im certainly not going to burn in hell for it lol.

bluemukaki's avatar

I think the point of the matter is that generally people don’t ‘steal’ unless they are driven to for economic or other reasons.

Let’s examine the situation:
Music and films cost an amazing amount considering their production value is basically nothing, they make a lot of money from licensing and product placement. The artists more often than not do not receive a reasonable amount of the 98% profit these sales return.

Buying music legitimately is relatively unfair. As a legitimate purchaser, people are still treated like thieves and are subject to unfair DRM and copyright laws which are completely unreasonable and only exist because the government is heavily influenced by MPAA and RIAA’s decisions. You only have to look at how EA treat their legitimate customers to know that its not exactly fair how they treat you. Why would you pay $80 for a game you can only use on 3 computers?

Many people use illegal music downloads to sample the music they want to eventually buy. Those that don’t are alt east discovering that music and may eventually buy music which they would be previously unaware of before they ‘stole’ that music.

I’m fine with downloading some pirated music, but as a result of my recent use of torrents, I have spent more than $150 on music which I would never know existed prior to that use of torrents. You decide who wins there.

dynamicduo's avatar

It’s never stealing to me. This is the way I consume all media (music, tv, games) nowadays – ignore the biased and paid reviews and try the product for myself if it picks up my interest. If the item proves to be worth paying for, I go and buy the product at my leisure. If I judge it not worthy of paying for, I’ll usually abandon and delete the TV series or game, and might delete the music depending on how bad it is. I also use torrents to watch current seasons of TV that I can’t buy on DVD, and again if they are good I’ll buy the DVDs. Like Dexter, I’ll pick up that series the next time I see it on sale.

I spend more money nowadays on media than I did in previous years. The only thing that’s changed is I no longer buy a game based on reviews or previews, I buy it if it proves to be a great game, which for some games is really hit and miss (case in point, Spore – what once was a great game eventually was beaten and plundered into the mess they released, I would have been major POed if I had paid for that crap).

It’s not my fault that the RIAA’s business model absolutely breaks thanks to the Internet. Even without Bittorrent, it was going to happen. The RIAA’s only purpose is to fund and promote artists in order to reap money. The Internet now lets people promote themselves and one doesn’t need tens of thousands of dollars to produce an album today, one can do it in the basement, upload it to MySpace music, and start a band. They’re just making their death a painful and long experience – suing your own customers? REALLY? Instead of innovating and thinking up a way to live in this new world, they’re holding onto the last hopes of their silly money making scheme. Good luck with that.

sndfreQ's avatar

You can try to rationalize it all you want, theft is theft. Artists have, regardless of their business/contractual arrangements, recorded their perfomance with the intention of making a living from your consumption of that music.

Replace the commodity of media with any other tangible goods and you’d be hard pressed to justify to anyone that your voluntary payment is fair practice toward those who have provided you with those goods-be they entertainment, foods, or any other consumables.

Radio airplay of songs on broadcast radio is paid for by advertising monies (that generate mechanical royalties for the artist). I seriously doubt that the majority of piraters download music, keep only what they intend to buy, and delete the rest. In the interim, your consumption of those goods you pirated are basically and fundamentally performances-when you listen to those songs repeatedly, you are taking earnings away from that artist.

There is a previous thread from earlier in the year that I’m going to pull when I get back to my desktop (on iPhone at the moment), and that discussion had some pretty substantive points beyond “because I’ll pay when I feel like.”

Put yourself in the shoes of the artist who chooses to sell their artistry. That’s your choice and right as a commercial artist.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I always pay for music, and I don’t mind doing so. There’s enough sites, streaming radio, etc. to determine if you like a particular song. Usually I purchase an actual CD from a traditional local music store, most because I want it to stay around.

And I agree with everything sndfreQ said.

delirium's avatar

I will download music to try it and music from super popular (or long dead) artists without guilt. If I end up liking it a ton, I usually buy the actual music directly from the artist.
If the group/person isn’t well known it will Never be downloaded illegally by me. I will buy it directly from them. If I like a small unknown group particularly I will donate money as well.

I am a strong believer in supporting the arts, not padding the pockets of the huge record lables.

sndfreQ's avatar

By the way, there are many subsidized outlets online (Pandora, Deezer,, etc.) that allow you to preview music, even via “unlimited” subscriptions (Rhapsody for example). In all those cases, the performances are paid for by someone, for everyone’s right to consume it according to those guidelines. Until the industry as a whole adopts a new method that the creators of content are amenable to (and in their decision making willingly relinquish their rights-e.g. Creative Commons), then those rights belong to the copyright owners (aka the creators/performers of those recordings).

delirium's avatar

Ooh, also I will download something I already have in another media. Right now I’m getting the digital versions of the Philip Glass I have records of.

delirium's avatar

Ps. SndfreQ, it may look like I’m debating/justifying myself in response but actually am on my iPhone and was typing and babbling, blind to the world.

sndfreQ's avatar

@LKidLyle: tape and VCR are considered lesser-than-master quality of the performances; legally, the fair use laws deem those media types to be allowable for consumption; however, pirating of 100 percent digital copies of the original data (song) is considered duplication on a one-to-one level, bit for bit, identical to the copy, therefore the copyright infringement.

Unauthorized uploading and/or downloading of copyrighted content from any distribution server is unlawful under U.S. Copyright.

delirium's avatar

Hehehe. Hi!

eambos's avatar

It’s an easy way for me to turn all my records and CDs into digital media.

Usually what I pirate is something tht I would never buy, but if it turns out to be great, I’ll do something (buy the disk or band merchandise) to support the artists.

sndfreQ's avatar

Here is that previous discussion I mentioned earlier.

All I can say is, if you made your living from selling your performances, and as they say “put food on the table for your family” based on the hours and months you toil to produce that work, how would you feel if someone off the street told you they have a right to consume your music however they pleased, and that maybe they’ll pay you for it if they think you’re worthy?

…you would feel pretty crappy knowing that your so-called fans treat your livelihood with such disrespect. Or maybe you wouldn’t…

I’m passionate about this issue because I work in the Music Industry, and am in this position as a content producer (I am a songwriter, producer, engineer, and sometime-recording artist). Someone told me once that it’s my fault for choosing this line of work, and that I should “like it or lump it.” In this day and age of the internet, where the only accountability a user has is to pay their internet bill, scruples have been replaced by a misguided sense of entitlement; saying a system is broken justifies your denying someone the right to make a living is morally reprehensible.

cookieman's avatar

I always pay for music.

I will listen to the free preview clip on iTunes, I subscribe (for free) to Pandora, I use the Internet to track down music I hear in a movie or on TV.

There are plenty of free and legal ways to preview music prior to buying.

To argue that pirating is a way to determine if the product is worthy of sale is simply justifying illegal behavior.

As a graphic design professor, I teach my students about granting usage rights for their artwork to a client. It is no different.

sndfreQ's avatar

Some interesting links to share with you regarding copyright:

Although the following source is based in Florida, the law they’re citing is a Federal statute.

And the recent update to intellectual property laws includes infringement via unauthorized duplication of content, amends copyright infringement to be a federal offense. (ref. Title II, Section 208. Criminal Infringement of a Copyright).

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@sndfreQ well my argument is that its not immoral. Thats like saying taking a picture of the Mona Lisa and then making a poster out of it that you hang in your apartment is immoral. They still have the song, and every dollar that goes towards that song goes to them. But yeah, just because some copy right law says its illegal doesn’t make it immoral. Besides, last time I checked, CD quality trumped free download qualities almost all the time. So That argument doesn’t really work either.

mea05key's avatar

they are charging awefully a lot of a cd/dvd. I dont think it is ever worth it to buy ori unless i love the artist soooo damn much. So i am fine with piracy.

dynamicduo's avatar

You know what, I know a ton of music artists, I come from a musical family, and many of my friends are in bands, and I sing and play guitar myself. They have released their own albums on their own and sometimes with a label. They ALWAYS made more money on live performances than they did by selling CDs. Always. They never have problems putting food on the table, they love what they do and they love engaging with fans. I’ve already produced one full album on my own using the tools that I had access to, and it sounds pretty decent, sure isn’t as great as a fully mastered album, but I’m happy with it. And I didn’t need to sell my soul and lock myself into a multi year contract to do so! If I found out my album was being pirated I would be flattered that anyone thought it worthy of pirating, and I wouldn’t make attempts to shut it down because increasing my popularity is easily worth giving away my music – these people would probably never have purchased my CD anyway.

Let’s admit it – the Internet has cut out a lot of middle men from all industries, music being the first and most obvious one. Obviously these people are pissed that they don’t have a job. But that’s the cost of innovation and progress. There will still be a need for record producers, audio technicians, even promoters to a certain extent; in fact the demand for services should go up as more bands are able to gain an audience on their own and not be locked out of the music industry by means of not being signed to a label. But it is simply unrealistic for music producers to continue to think they can run the same business with the same # of employees in the same roles in this new world.

There is also a lot of contention regarding the word “theft”. Copyright infringement IS NOT THEFT, I can’t make this any clearer than it is. Theft involves taking something, the end result is that I now have what you do not. This is NOT the case with copying digital data. And not every download correlates to a lost sale – many people download new things to try them out because they can. It’s the same principle as going into a record store and listening to those demo booths they have where you can sample a bunch of CDs, only I am not forced to physically go anywhere.

There is also the price point argument. Back when the labels were charing $20 a CD, piracy levels were higher because the price of a CD was not accurately what the market wanted it to be. Nowadays I see the average price of CDs is $10 a disc, which is much more reasonable, and I would be more inclined to buy a CD at this price point. Yes yes, I know the costs of producing a CD so don’t try to get into that argument. The underlying point is that 20 years ago they could charge $20 a CD because the technology was expensive and limited. But now that everyone can produce music (albeit lower quality music possibly) with a bit of audio knowledge and the right gear, there’s no way the record companies can continue pricing their CDs the same and expect people to pay for it. Unfortunately the RIAA chooses to stubbornly continue in its direction instead of evaluating the market and innovating a new direction.

I bought four CDs last year. Each of them was from an indie band, produced on their own or with their own money. I got to chat with the artist/band while making the transaction. That is music I support. Stuff like Britney Spears’ new release? I would never pay for that screechy mass produced garbage.

TaoSan's avatar

Can’t argue with the smart brains from Harvard!

Study defies traditional beliefs about Internet use

By Beth Potier
Harvard News Office

As sales of recorded music drop precipitously, the music industry has pointed a blaming finger at the dramatic growth of file sharing among individuals who search, share, and download music files from each other. Surely if consumers can get their favorite songs for free, the reasoning goes, they’re not making tracks to the nearest record store to pay $18 for a CD.
Think again, says Felix Oberholzer-Gee, associate professor at Harvard Business School. In a recent study, Oberholzer-Gee found that sharing digital music files has no effect on CD sales. “It’s a finding that surprised us,” he says. “We just couldn’t document a negative relationship between file sharing and music sales.”

Oberholzer-Gee and co-author Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina accessed data directly from file-sharing servers and observed 1.75 million downloads during a 17-week period in fall 2002. “Our key advantage is that we have much better data than anybody else who worked in this subject,” says Oberholzer-Gee. Most other research on the market impact of file sharing has relied on survey data. Asking people to self-report about what is, after all, illegal activity almost never produces reliably truthful answers, he says.

Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf’s study used statistical models to compare downloads of songs from 680 popular albums in a variety of styles with the actual sales of those albums, as reported to Nielsen SoundScan, the industry’s leading sales tracker. The researchers statistically analyzed whether the sale of an album declined more strongly in relation to the frequency and volume of downloaded songs from that album. In one week, for instance, they saw a spike in downloads of songs from the soundtrack to the film “Eight Mile.” They would chart sales data for that CD in the following weeks to see if the download activity caused sales to decline.

It didn’t, they were stunned to find. “This is where we cannot document any relationship between file sharing and subsequent sales,” says Oberholzer-Gee, calling the effect “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

Music to record industry’s ears?

In fact, the study found that for the most popular albums – the top 25 percent that had more than 600,000 sales – file sharing actually boosts sales. For every 150 songs downloaded, the study showed, sales jumped by one CD. For the least popular 25 percent of the sample, “we found a more pronounced negative effect,” says Oberholzer-Gee. Despite predictions that the Internet would level the playing field of the music industry, giving consumers equal access to obscure, independently produced artists as to chart-topping pop darlings, music downloads parallels music sales.

“When you look at what the music people are sharing online, it’s very much like looking at radio,” he says. Not coincidentally, the early days of music radio brought similar fears that consumers would not purchase records they could listen to for free.

For the record industry, Oberholzer-Gee argues, this research brings great news. ”[File sharing] is not as dangerous as many have believed. The music industry’s ability to influence what people listen to seems almost unbroken,” says Oberholzer-Gee, adding that the study found that industry marketing – video play on MTV, for instance – seems to affect downloads as well as CD sales.

Still, the duo’s research has not been music to the industry’s ears. The Recording Industry Association of America, the U.S. music industry trade group, has rejected the study’s findings and clings to its assertion that file sharing is chipping away at CD sales, which are, undeniably, suffering.

Oberholzer-Gee poses several theories on the slack pace of music sales, from what he calls the “CD replacement boom” winding down as older listeners finish replacing their vinyl with CDs, to the poor economic climate, to the rising price of CDs. Despite his and Strumpf’s initial surprise at the results of their study, he says, it makes clear economic sense that every download does not displace a CD sale.

“Observing that people consume lots and lots at a price of zero dollars makes sense to an economist,” he says. If someone offered him a free plane ticket to Florida, he offers, he’d be poolside in a heartbeat. For $250 roundtrip, he’d think harder about how much he wanted to fly south. “At $18, we’re being lots more selective than at zero dollars.”

Emotions meet economics

Although he is a music fan, Oberholzer-Gee says that economic inquiry rather than musical passion drove this research. As the proliferation of digital media – and the ease of disseminating it – drives the discussion of property rights into the courts, economists are taking notice. The fine line between granting sufficient protection of intellectual property to spur creation yet not such stringent protection that market forces will be choked is as important to economists as to lawyers, he says.

One such lawyer looking closely at property rights in the digital age is Jonathan Zittrain, the Berkman Assistant Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He gives the study high marks for bringing rigorous empirical research to what he calls an important public policy issue. “Making generalizations about Internet use is tricky, and Felix has identified and dealt with the pitfalls in a way well suited to peer scrutiny – while still accessible to industry, government, and the public, all of whom have important interests within the battles over digital property protection,” says Zittrain.

Oberholzer-Gee is also hopeful that the study’s robust data will inform the music industry as it struggles to tame the digital media beast. Until now, the industry has resorted to shots in the dark.

“One of the motivations to do this study was that the debate is emotionally very charged,” he says, in part because of the scarcity of factual data on the subject. “We were struck by the fact that so much is at stake and yet we knew so little. It’s very important to get this right.”

TaoSan's avatar

and at sndfreQ,

you fall for the propaganda the magnates of your industry trickle down very selectively.

While your notions are sound, noble and respectable, I assure you those of the RIAA and the labels are not.

Don’t worry, Puff Popo or whatever flavor of the month MTV pushed star will certainly make enuff money for his next Continental R or G5.

It’s not loss of revenue they fear, it’s not the artists they worry about, it’s fear of losing their tight grip over what entertainment you consume and when.

They really don’t worry about the artists, they worry about the franchises they build around them.

Some of the “stars” that make the most noise about files-haring, are those that are so stuffed already that they really haven’t anything better to do anymore. Think of Lars Ulrich and Napster. It was nothing short of grotesque.

Just how ruthless and self-righteous they are, can be observed when you Google your way around to the quack-“Studies” they tried to use to discredit the aforementioned Harvard study. Some kids in “I love music” T-shirts in front of record stores asking “would you have bought this CD if it was free on the internet?”

Answer no, and it was “One lost sale due to piracy”.

TaoSan's avatar

and lastly….



…and by the way, before anyone gets the wrong impression, I spent roughly 3 Grand on iTunes this year alone.

afghanmoose's avatar

if the artist wanted to get heard wouldnt they put their stuff on a bit torrent site and pray they would get popular?and if anyone really likes them and wants to contribute to them then wouldnt the fan buy their actual cd and merchandise?

cak's avatar

I was taught not to steal. When I tried to steal a piece of gum at a store, I was marched right back in and had to return it to the manager and apologize for my action. It ws one piece of gum. About 5 cents – but I stole it and needed to be taught it was wrong.

I have two children now, and teach them the same. Stealing is stealing and it’s never okay.

Sure, a huge cut goes to everyone but the artist, but that doesn’t mean the artist doesn’t get anything from the cd. Using to justify stealing the music isn’t a great argument. If you use that logic, then you need to apply the same logic to the grocery store, as well.

TaoSan's avatar

at cak:

you can not “STEAL” music. Violating copyrights is not STEALING. That doesn’t make it right or wrong, but surely if the industry has managed to make “ordinary” people completely forget about that distinction their propaganda models work.

Just another example of the fact that “opinion shaping” is their main business, and not “entertainment”.

dynamicduo's avatar

When you stole a piece of gum, that gum was gone until you put it back. Stealing music should only be used to describe stealing a physical CD. Downloading music without paying for it is NOT stealing, it’s sad to see how effective the RIAA’s propaganda has been at blurring this point.

TaoSan's avatar


beat you to it by the fraction of a second ;)

TaoSan's avatar

as a matter of fact, in many jurisdictions the download or possession itself is not illegal, merely the distribution is.

PupnTaco's avatar

I’m an artist and I understand the concerns about copyright infringment. If someone took one of my pieces and used it to make money, I’d be pissed.

But I also “pirate” music. I view it as a victimless crime. It’s been a tough time for us financially and new music has always been one thing that keeps my spirits up and inspires my creativity. With no budget for entertainment, artists & labels aren’t losing any revenue from me – I wouldn’t be buying music right now anyway. If I stopped “pirating,” the only difference would be that I would stop listening to new music.

cak's avatar

Ok…violate the copyright….it’s still wrong in my book. Just my opinion. Wrong word choice, same idea.

sndfreQ's avatar

You’re missing my point-it IS stealing according to the law. Copying data without permission is BY LAW stealing. If you read my links above, they are the actual ACTs signed into law by our Congress, enforced by the FBI. If you think it’s a victimless crime, The thousands of people who have been fined and prosecuted will have a different spin on it.

What should versus what IS are two totally different things. This is fact people.

TaoSan's avatar


I’m sorry to be pig-headed about “terminology”, I get your line of thinking and sympathize, nevertheless, I fail to see the connection between a “physical removal”, theft, and a right-infringement.

I should say I have a bit of a legal background.

sndfreQ's avatar

Theft of Intellectual property has been declared theft. That is the crux of the argument.

PupnTaco's avatar

@SndFreq: Were those fined & prosecuted distributing or just downloading?

If they were just downloading, I think they were prosecuted unjustly and the law needs revision.

Distributors, on the other hand, directly impact revenue and are fair game for sticking their necks out.

TaoSan's avatar


Okay, I’m just now reading the the act, pretty bloated, as usual.

Could you kindly point me to the paragraph where they make the “infringement” a “theft”?

sndfreQ's avatar

Seriously (and respectfully) read the link and you’ll see that any act of copying including uploading and downloading constitutes unlawful behavior.

TaoSan's avatar


oh, unlawful yes, most definitely! Very illegal, indeed!

But I think this thread went down the line how the industry felt that this whole copyright thing was too “obscure” for the public, that it didn’t weigh enough on peoples mind’s and consciousness, and therefore likened it to another illegal activity they felt would have more “moral” weight.

Thus however blurring the lines of the law to better serve their needs.

And please note, I value your opinions, and subscribe to them mostly, just trying to point out that the industry is rather helpless, and in this helplessness chooses a very very wrong approach, like suing their own customers e.g.

dynamicduo's avatar

sndfreQ, you bring up a point that’s worthwhile to discuss here. America’s laws are not the world’s laws, the Internet is a global beast however. For instance, I’m in Canada, our laws are not those of America’s. Here’s the biggest point: we actually PAY a levy (like a tax) on all blank recordable media under the ASSUMPTION that the media will be used to pirate music. This levy is to be distributed to artists and labels, though how they do so fairly and accurately is beyond me. But the fact is that by buying blank media one is exchanging this levy for the ability to pirate music for personal use. I am paying this levy and in return I have the ability to copy a friend’s CD for personal use. I don’t see much of a difference between copying data files and a CD other than it’s easier to do, we can argue about legit and nonlegit ways to do this (mailing CDs, etc), but the fact of the matter is at the end of the day we have a copying of music that I have paid for the right to do by purchasing blank media. Here is a quote further clarifying these rules in regards to downloading music:

However, unless the legislation is changed or the courts interpret matters differently, it appears that making a private copy for your own use of a musical work downloaded in any manner from the internet is not an infringement of copyright. In their decision, the Copyright Board states:

“The regime does not address the source of the material copied. There is no requirement in Part VIII that the source copy be a non-infringing copy. Hence, it is not relevant whether the source of the track is a pre-owned recording, a borrowed CD, or a track downloaded from the Internet.

The more complex answer to the question posed above is you cannot post a song on the internet in any manner, but you can make a private copy of any songs you find on the net.

So I am free to download as much music as I’d like to, as I pay money for the right to do so. If the basis of your point thus rests of the unlawful nature of it, well I’d say that it fails in the case of all Canadians and any other citizen of countries with blank media levies.

sndfreQ's avatar

My primary point about morals is that in your violation of the law, your duplication and distribution takes money away from the artist. Whether it’s pennies or dollars per instance the aggregate result is thousands of dollars of revenue that I lose for the sake of your convenience. The laws protect the little guys and big colonies alike.

dynamicduo's avatar

I actually had typed a point regarding the morals before you had clarified. I’ll summarize it quickly here. Say I borrow a friend’s CD of a new band, make a copy, and listen. Because I can listen to that music, I can become a fan of the band, and when they come to town the chances of me going to see them are greatly increased than if I had not heard of them at all. And for artists, making money on the road is one of the biggest sources of money, especially when they are signed to major record labels who take most of the album revenue. Ultimately, the artist makes more money than if I had not copied their CD.

You as a record producer probably don’t make money through this. But you aren’t as invested into the artist as the artist is, you probably engineer many CDs in a year. Your job is different than that of the artists, the risks and rewards are different too. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the money you lose by pirating to that which an artist does, because while they have similarities, they really are two different jobs in the same industry.

TaoSan's avatar


But tell me, who is to say that a person downloading a song, would have otherwise paid money for that song if it wasn’t available for download?

Legally, therein lies the crux!

That perceived “damage”, is nothing but speculated.

Who is to say, that a certain amount of online distribution won’t actually enhance sales, instead of hampering it?

see -> Harvard Study

Perchik's avatar

I don’t consider it stealing. If these goddamn record execs and these big names bands didn’t steal from us and live so lavishly, maybe I’d buy their cds. I buy music from independent people who tour the country. Whether it’s on the college circuit or the bar circuit, I’ll support music by people, not by labels.

Seriously though, this issue is silly. It’s not theft, that’s been proven a couple times in this thread, but that’s been ignored. I’m downloading music for my enjoyment because buying it is such a pain in the ass. If I download a song legally from iTunes, I want to own the rights to listen to that song on whatever computer I want, whatever iPod I want to listen to it on. If I buy a cd, I can rip it to infinite computers, use it for anything that is not commercial, and virtually “own” that cd. When I buy music from the internet, I am very restricted in what I can do with it, and I’m not okay with that.

You cannot eradicate music piracy. If I can hear the music, I can record it. It’s simple as that. However, with everything else, an influx of piracy shows there’s a problem with the system.

I’m a pirate and I will continue to pirate music. I don’t see it as morally wrong.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ SndFreq: I’m familiar with the law; in fact, one of my best friends is an intellectual property attorney in Santa Monica.

Now as to:
your duplication and distribution takes money away from the artist

I understand this to be the purpose of copyright law – to protect revenue – but in my specific case, no monies are lost. If all pirated music evaporated overnight, I wouldn’t start buying CDs or digital downloads from iTunes/Amazon – I’d just stop listening to new music. I have no entertainment budget.

TaoSan's avatar

there is one last point I’d like to bring up.

Music as such, is completely and entirely commoditized these days. However, this is a phenomena only about 50 to 60 years old really.

Music equals culture.

One question I have is, should we really allow such a strong pillar of expression of culture be controlled by a few distribution gate keepers for profit?

Wonder how Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the likes would have felt about this.

Or imagine the National Anthem only being played in a stadium after ensuring that royalties have been paid.

I know, wandering off and far fetched, but still food for thought. I mean, seriously, have the profiteers manipulated society so much that we believe that a person listening to a song is the same as someone stealing a car or a purse if there hasn’t been a profit for someone along the way?

Kinda scary

dalepetrie's avatar

In a perfect world, you would be able to buy a physical copy which you could do whatever you wanted with it. Most of the money would go to the artist, a little bit would go for distribution, production, record label profit, etc. (overhead). CDs (or whatever format was popular) could be sold for about $9 and everyone would make money. In our world, record companies are so fucked up that they can sell a product for $18, give the artist $1 of that and lose money on 99% of what is released. Fuck that.

I buy all my CDs used, costs me between $5 and $10 a copy. The artist doesn’t get anything out of it, and that sucks, but if I like the artist, I’ll see them in concert when they come (of course Ticketbastard is another rip off outfit if you ask me). Anyway, I refuse to pay 99 cents a song to download music when you don’t get the album art or a physical product, just a license to play it, which may or may not be permanent, which comes with all these copying rights garbage. I burn my CDs to MP3s and listen to them on my Zune.

The only time I download music is if I CAN’T get it in physical form. There are some things that have never been released physically, which I might consider signing up for a free trial of Emusic, get them as part of my 50 free songs and cancel, that’s however legal and not piracy. The only time I really cross that line about downloading music for free and not paying is the case of bootlegs…live material or outtakes or what not. You can’t acquire it commercially and I’m not going to spend $30 at a record show when the artist doesn’t see a dime of it. I’ll download it and if and when the artist releases it commercially, I’ll buy the finished product, but if they don’t release it, I want to hear it, I’m wiling to pay for it, but I can’t so I download it. I have no problem with that.

I would not however download something for free that I could buy. I would not make a copy and sell it or give it away. I will not open my hard drive to file sharers to let anyone have access to the music I’ve ripped to MP3s. Personally however I think there should be a lot more availability of singles as free downloads…it’s marketing for the album as far as I’m concerned, if I like the single, can download it for free and want to hear the rest of the album based on that free single I got, I’ll buy it.

tinyfaery's avatar

Immoral? No. Illegal? Apparently. Is it really stealing?Debatable. Do I do it? Rarely, but occasionally I do. Some music artists do realize the conundrum of the changing industry, and as such, not as likely to care about not getting paid everytime someone downloads a song. They realize more money willbe made than lost.

As to why it wasn’t illegal when we all made mixed tapes, there was no easy way to make money on it back then, now there is.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

PupnTaco, if you justify music duplication as being “okay” because you have no entertainment budget, then are you equally okay with people taking your illustrations off your website and using them for whatever? The same laws that protect music protect your illustrations. Someone owns creative property, and is entitled to compensation.

With music, you can go to pandora and radio stations if you can’t afford to buy music. Owning an iPod doesn’t give one the right to take music to have something to listen to on that iPod, any more than owning a record player gave people the right to have free records to play on it. The flexibility and portability of the playing medium does not condone the taking of something that should be paid for.

There are certainly enough ways to determine if you like an artist enough to purchase a whole CD of their music, and there are enough options for how to do so.’s download service is cheaper than iTunes, and they run specials. Artists like Radiohead and David Byrne put music out on a website, and allow you to purchase directly, or just listen. Check out

El_Cadejo's avatar

Id like to say i ninja music—(i have a thing against pirates)—:)

I am however a huge supporter of live music, constantly going to concerts so id like to think i make up for what little money i “stole” from the artists by seeing them live. I also try and spread the word about musicians i like.

That1guy is awesomes

waterskier2007's avatar

@meemorize, where are you paying 20–30 dollars for a cd. you are getting ripped off

shockvalue's avatar

@uber: That’s just the point I was about to make. If one really wanted to support the artists, they should do so by attending concerts and buying t-shirts etc. Paying for the albums themselves is the least effective way to support an artist.

PupnTaco's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock: I’m OK with people using my illustrations for non-commercial use. If they want to use something as a Desktop picture, for example.

I’m not making any money off the music I download. And the artists aren’t losing any money from me.

PupnTaco's avatar

BTW to clarify, in an ideal world, I’d have a budget for supporting these recording artists. My reasons aren’t a justification to me—they’re just my reasons. :)

TaoSan's avatar

I have been musing over this all day long now, and think it seems that faith is not without a sense of irony.

The very technologies that spawned an industry that aspired to commoditize every little bit of culture and art, is now being torn down by that very technology after ruling for less than a century. And what do they do instead of thinking up new ways and models?

Clinging to something that so obviously doesn’t work, alienating the last one of their customer base.

And for those who always are concerned about “the Artist”, Google up some interviews of say Prince or Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor.

The notion that listening to a song is equal to theft if nothing went in somebody’s pocket is a well-placed propaganda stunt thought up by the industry pimps errr CEOs.

I wonder how many artists would openly speak out against being ruthlessly exploited, if their non-disclosure agreements wouldn’t be so restrictive.

rockstargrrrlie's avatar

As the daughter of a musician, I am extremely morally opposed to it. I think a lot of people have a very stilted idea of how many people it takes to make an album, and how little a lot of these people are being paid for their contributions in relation to the work they put in. A lot of them are not entitled to royalties from airplay nor do they tour. These people are dependent on CD sales, and while I agree with CDs being too expensive, I’ve also witnessed firsthand the effect music downloading has had on my family.

TaoSan's avatar


Thank youfor that insight. I certainly don’t mean to belittle or in any way undermine these awful experiences you write about.

However, don’t you think that too restrictive / unfavorable contracts with producers / labels might be the issue here?

If a song is popular enough to be traded on file-sharing venues to the extent that someone could quantify a “damage percentage”, wouldn’t that usually mean that someone in the production chain must be earning a good amount of money?

Could it be the problem is much more that x receives say 70% share of the profits while A B C D E F G H and I have to split the remaining 30%?

I do work with creative artists occasionally, and all too often the label will say something to the effect, can’t pay you more because 50,000 people shared your song making us “lose” x amount of money, which is of course humbug.

Just wondering and musing….

tinyfaery's avatar

I thought the technical people responsible for mixing music and making CDs were paid a flat rate. How does not paying for a song or CD effect them? They were already paid. I could give a fuck about producers and record labels making money, sometimes even the artists. Oh yeah, fuck Metallica and Lars Ulrich. If I see him I’ll throw a quarter at him and tell him that even though I never downloaded his music here’s a quarter for his effort.

dalepetrie's avatar

My understanding is that while it’s true that there are a LOT of people involved in making an album, other than the artist (and occassionaly the producer) most are contract employees, giving a lump sum expense at the beginning, which must be recouped. So I can definitely see beyond the argument that a CD costs 3 cents to produce, why does an album cost $15. Production and distribution costs should be able to be managed on average at about a buck a disc, maybe a bit more.

As for the artist, are they approaching their work as “art” or as “commerce”? Consider the model used for many years in creating the type of art more commonly associated with the word “art” itself. Often that was done out of passion, and if remuneration were involved, it would be sort of a commissioned deal. The true spirit of art really should in an ideal world be separate from commerce. An artist should create his work (whether that be paint on canvas or music on CD) because it is the art he wants to create, regardless of whether he will get paid for it. If he can find a way to make money from his art, all the better.

But the great thing about art is that it is meant to be shared and enjoyed. Consider if you will a painting, if you want to enjoy that painting, you can see a picture of it in a book or online. You could also purchase a lithograph or other copy of the work for your own personal enjoyment. The original work has an outlet to be shared by all at no clost, yet copies can be made for personal use. That is what having a copy of music on a CD or a digital device is like. You enjoy it, and yes you could probably find a place to listen to it,, or YouTube or, whatever, but if you want a copy for your personal enjoyment, you have to leave the world of art and enter the world of commerce.

And that is where I think the line should be drawn moralistically…if you appreciate the work of the artist you can support that artist in the same way a patron of the arts might have sponsored or commissioned future work by an artist whose past work they’d enjoyed…you can sponsor a musical artist by attending that artist’s concerts and buying merchandise for which the artist is paid. Indeed, copies of the music are one such piece of merchandise, so is indeed a great way to support an artist, by buying their CDs, which will pay them royalties per copy.

The problem I have is that this method of supporting the artist is made too expensive by bloated bureaucracy in an industry which is adverse to adapting to new methods of management and distribution. So though I wholeheartedly agree with rockstargrrrlie’s point that it deprives the artist of remuneration when one obtains a copy of an artist’s work for personal use without providing payment for that copy (and it denies compensation to the person who took the financial risk to create the copy given the various costs associated with it). And for that reason, it is definitely good to buy music.

But for those who would want to enjoy personal copies of this work, it denies them the right to appreciate this art if the pricing structure is beyond their means, and it therefore diminishes the actual reason for the art’s existence. In other words, but putting too high a premium on a copy of something, and giving too little of that premium to the artist, the middlemen essentially have mismanaged themselves into the situation where stealing becomes permissible, as the moral line crossed is actually not seen as quite as dark as the moral line crossed by the captains of the industry in bringing the copies to market.

I would say that artists should decry the big record company way of doing business, and should in fact rebel by doing what some of the smartest artists (Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead) are doing, by finding ways to distribute their work at a low cost to people on line, in some cases allowing the consumer to set what he feels is a fair price. Or do as many artists have done and start your own record label or move to an indie label, where instead of needing to sell one million or more records just to break even, everyone can make a profit if only a few thousand copies sell.

shadling21's avatar

As a dancer, I need music to dance to. As an underpaid dancer, I can’t afford the music I need to dance to.

When I figure out a way to get paid for my art, I’ll help support the art of others.

I feel guilty, once in a while, for downloading music. But then I listen to the music I download and all those troubles seem to disappear.

TaoSan's avatar


You bring up a very, very good point here! The ones that have the most “immoral” ways of commoditizing the arts, seeing them as nothing more than a vehicle to franchise their product placement, decry “morality”. Therein lies the crux, thieves call others thieves.

An they go over board with it very thoroughly.

I haven’t touched a single file-share client before I saw that first stupid little “you wouldn’t steal a car” trailer on a DVD I purchased.

eambos's avatar

Why do they put the stupid “Don’t Pirate” clip on DVDs that you paid for? It just makes me want to pirate more, so I don’t have to deal with that and the FBI warning.

El_Cadejo's avatar



MacBean's avatar

I hate those clips. “You wouldn’t steal a car!” Oh yeah? How do you know? Maybe I would.

shockvalue's avatar

Lo! Pirates wouldn’t steal a car because it would sink on the open seas!
…Heh, stupid commercial

shockvalue's avatar

Besides, Pirates don’t “steal,” we commandeer!

TaoSan's avatar


eambos's avatar

The main difference is this:
When you steal, you take someone elses things,
When you pirate, you steal shit on the high seas,
And when you file share, someone makes a copy and gives you that copy.

dynamicduo's avatar

Well if we’re now talking about DVDs and pirating, a good point to bring up is the fact that one can’t legally make a backup of their own media, forcing you to buy a new one each time your owned version breaks. A great example is a child’s DVD collection. Children are messy and generally don’t have regards for keeping things nice and pristine, so eventually kids DVDs will get scratched up and won’t play. I think it should be fair for the parent to be able to make copies of the DVD from the master one they bought, that way when the kids ruin the DVD the parent can go mint another one off. But according to the laws that exist now, this is a crime, and I think that’s wrong.

cookieman's avatar

@dynamicduo: Excellent point.

My friend uses Handbrake and rips them all to an external harddrive. Then burns new ones as needed.

waterskier2007's avatar

@shadling, i feel like you are being irrational

basically you are saying since you haven’t found a way to be paid for your art, you are disrespecting others art and not paying them for it.

shadling21's avatar

@waterskier: Nope, I’m saying I can’t afford music. I’m just pointing out that my situation isn’t the best, either. It’s hard to make money as a dancer. Unless you want to do exotic dancing. So far, I’ve held off on that prospect.

The more I think about it, the more guilty I feel about the music that I download. I want to pay the musicians I love. Once I’ve finished school and have a steady job, I’ll be able to afford it. As it is, I buy a couple of albums per month, and attend several concerts per year. I think that’s pretty decent for someone who sometimes struggles to buy a cup of coffee. Not only am I a dancer, but I’m a video artist and a student with only a part-time job, some generous parents, and some desperately-needed scholarships to support me.

I realize I’m basically saying that I’m stealing bread to stave off hunger, as if that makes it okay. I recognize downloading pirated music as a necessary evil made all the more palatable by its wide acceptance in today’s society. When you have an equally convenient and relatively affordable way for me to pay for all this stuff, let me know.

Now, do I sound “irrational”? Immoral, yes. But at least I recognize that what I’m doing is wrong.

shadling21's avatar

@sndfrq: You made a point earlier about people only paying artists who they feel deserve money. In a capitalist society, isn’t this natural? Or would you rather that some institution divvy up music profits so that the scores are evened? Is that a better idea?

Is that what happens when you buy a DJ license?

shadling21's avatar

Oh, one final note. I’m Canadian, and I go through hundreds of CD-Rs every year. As dynamicduo mentioned, there are levies attached to all blank recordable media. I pay a bit that way, too.

Is someone keeping tabs? Have I paid my dues?

shockvalue's avatar

haha, buy your CD-R’s over the interwebs, that way you won’t have to pay the taxes on them.

shockvalue's avatar

… well, the levy at least.

sndfreQ's avatar

I can respect those who recognize that consumption of media with some form of compensation to the artist (no matter how small) is fair; what I don’t appreciate, is the flippant, self-centered attitude of those “pirates” who feel they can repeatedly listen to artists performances without compensation, for whatever reasons (they can’t afford to being the primary one).

I realize that in the end, I can’t convince others when my points are falling on deaf ears, but at least I can share some insight from the perspective of an artist.

-The focus of this discussion seems to keep careening off course, focusing on the act of “digital copying” versus the concept of what it is you’re obtaining when you pirate media (music, video, software, visual art). What you’re obtaining when you access my work that I choose to sell commercially is the access to a performance of my work that has been affixed to a recorded medium is-all things being equal (no matter how or who was involved to produce that music), it is a performance.

When you listen to an artist’s creative expression repeatedly (taking it with you on your Zune for example), you are essentially enjoying the fruit of someone’s labor, in most cases, repeatedly. Your enjoyment of that performance is worthy of compensation, irrespective of how many non-artist’s hands are also in the pot. At present, Micro$oft, Apple etc. do nothing to levy sales of their media players to pay recording artists. However, their legal downloading services provide a means for the artist to be compensated, so there is at least some form of compensation, when consumers legitimately purchase tunes and media through their services.

Furthermore, it should be clarified that the notion of who is the “artist” is rather myopic in this discussion. The creative part of the process involves a collaboration: songwriters, lyricists, arrangers, performers, engineers, and producers all have a creative hand in the resulting performance that is captured on a recording; this is the case when those in a creative team are given royalty points when they can’t be paid up front for their part in the production process (as is the case in the vast majority of independent recording artist projects). When you pay for a CD, a digital download, a concert ticket, or other merch, you are supporting that creative team.

It’s funny that in other “entertainment” mediums, such as professional sports, no one bats an eye to the fact that fans pay up the wazzoo for tickets, and support the ridiculous salaries of these athletes, but I digress…

On to the matter of compensation: the examples pointed out where blank media is being levied in Canada, are fair and effective ways to compensate artists, as are supporting them via purchasing merchandise (CDs, T-shirts, attending concerts). Perhaps if that were extended to ISPs and internet providers, and the hardware manufacturers who produce the PCs we use to acquire the media, then we’d be looking at a paradigm shift that is progressive.

The examples where rare, out of print or otherwise bootlegged recordings not available is one that is a slippery slope; while I understand the motives for obtaining those performances, what are you doing to compensate the artist for enjoying their music? As you know, those who paid the ticket price to see the concert live have done their part, are you truly and honestly doing yours? That is but one example that presents a clear measure of one’s morals.

With the example of the Mona Lisa, the artist and their heirs are not likely around to benefit from proceeds, and that is consistent with the statute of limitations on copyrights (which expires 70 years after the death of the author).

dalepetrie made a valid point regarding commissioning of art works, in that there is a model for patronage there; in those cases, artists were supported from the outset by patrons, without the whole “deferred compensation” that is in the current industry model.

Lastly, the fall back of “CDs are too expensive” is flimsy at best; as mentioned previously by me and by others, there are ways to pay for music a la carte, and you all know what they are: Amazon (DRM-free btw), iTunes, and subscription services such as Rhapsody, plus subsidized services such as Pandora and good ol’ terrestrial radio.

With digital uploading and downloading, there is a distinct difference with mass distribution; to say that this is comparable to one-off tape recording/VHS recording is foolhardy; and to boot, when you say that you “only download” you’re completing the cycle of the act; if you are accessing media that someone else owns and has made available, you’re colluding with the perpetrator of the infringement by fulfilling the purpose of their act-illegal distribution of someone’s intellectual property (without their express consent).

The argument that “no one should dictate to me how I can consume my media” previous to these outlets perhaps had more substance back when (5 years ago?!), but in today’s age of digital media, there are clearly legitimate and illegitimate ways to acquire and consume that if one can’t afford to, can still use subsidized channels for consumption.

In the meantime, your question was one of “what’s your stance morally?” My stance is, if I repeatedly consume music from an artist (after a reasonable period of previewing via legitimate channels), then supporting of the artist in any of the aforementioned ways keeps my morality intact.

FWIW, I have enjoyed all of the discussion, and appreciate those who took the time to read my posts as well.

TaoSan's avatar


Good morning!

Thank you for that last post!

You are very right. The general discussion tends to careen off topic because fronts are hardened, models are broken and therefore the general issue is very emotionally charged on both ends of the participant spectrum (industry v. consumer).

So to this effect, and after perusing the thread once again, you are right. In my case, I haven’t answered the original question, morally, where do I stand?

As a matter of fact, you are perfectly right. If a consumer values a certain piece of art so much that he/she decides/wants to enjoy it frequently, then morally there should be compensation to the artist in some form.

I still have my quarrels with the industry, but certainly make the concession that there is a problem there.

My quarrel is with the “distributors”, their ways and agendas.

As long as they try to demonize their own customer base, defend their iron grips on what is consumed when where and how viciously, as long as they subscribe to Getty’s “Oil of the 21st century” mentality, there won’t be constructive dialogue.

What I’m trying to say is, evil begets evil. It is now up to the industry to respond to a time where old models are no longer viable. From the day of the first radio receiver, to cassettes to VHS to CD-Rs, they have vehemently sought to suppress progress in order to protect their profit interests.

So if a file-sharer is a “pirate” or a “thief”, then they are certainly “pimps” and “mobsters”.

The short end of the stick? The artist and those involved in the immediate production.

The industry harms/exploits artists ten times more than file-sharing will ever do.

Is it immoral to frequently consume a piece of creative work without compensating the artist and his immediately involved supporting crew in some way then?

Yes I think so.

Who is to blame though? The “pirate” or the “pimp” ? I don’t know, the truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. The distributors will need to realize that oppressive/restrictive vindictiveness is not the answer. Once they do that, many a file-sharer will start thinking about morality again.

From an artist’s standpoint, it is time to realize that the traditional distribution channels are cause/root of the evil, not last line of defense against it.

This was a great discussion for me, and I very much value all the inputs regardless of perspective.

sndfreQ's avatar

Well said TaoSan.

bluemukaki's avatar

@TaoSan: I agree, morally it is wrong to ‘steal’ music, despite any arguments against it. But I also believe that people are generally interested in compensating an artist, and that the explosion of illegal downloads is the direct response to the actions of the record industry.

@sndfreQ: I don’t believe in stealing anything, but there are numerous dilemas which arise from the use of various DRM and copyright laws which in my opinion are completely unfair and should not be legal. Copyright law has gone way too far and the corporations which control this have become far too influential in the political system.

Why would anyone purchase music which the record companies don’t even want you to own? I mean we have absolutely no legal or in some cases technical control over the music we have bought.
It’s even technically illegal to play my CDs when my friends are in the house.
I don’t see why consumers should be expected to pay an obscene amount of money for something that we don’t have control over.

Would you buy a car if the car companies told you you couldn’t drive it more than 200km from your house?

I understand that these companies are trying to protect their intellectual property, but in doing so they have alienated their target market and basically told their loyal customers that they are thieves.

sndfreQ's avatar

@bluemukaki: “It’s even technically illegal to play my CDs when my friends are in the house.”

I don’t understand that assumption. When you purchase a CD for personal use, you are paying for the media (the physical disc), plus the right to play that performance in the privacy of your own home / car / portable media player, and even the right to make a backup of that recording if in the event the original media is defective or damaged. Private consumption of that performance is what you’re paying for in the sale price of the CD.

In the case of a single (iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc.), the price of $0.99 for the right to play music (a license) in the privacy of your home (or other non-public performance) is generally the going rate for a song. How is that “obscene?”

And the car comparison really is incongruent; ownership of property is different from ownership of intellectual property (in this case, a sound recording). A car is a tangible product that when purchased can be used for its intended purpose (driving, transport), however, the right to copy and duplicate the design of that car is protected under trademark laws and the design is considered intellectual property.

In the other thread I linked to above, I mentioned that there are international cases where car companies are mass-producing knock-offs of BMWs and Mercedes in China, and while very difficult, legal actions are being sought on an international stage.

Remember that it has always been the case that, even prior to CDs, records (Polyvinyl LPs, cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, 7-inch singles, etc.) have always had the same licensing and performance license and limitations, performance of the record (re-playing) has been granted as a limited license to the owner of that record for their personal consumption in a non-public setting. Playing music in your home for you and your friends would be included in that license (correct me if I’m wrong).

The same can be said of any media-including (as mentioned in previous posts) print media, visual art, sculpture, or other works of art. The right to reproduce that material is what is in question here. Re-broadcast, or other public performance without consent is what is protected as rights of the artist who created that art.

It’s the same thing for public spaces, such as restaurants, theme parks, movie theatres, gas stations, or other commercial spaces; the re-broadcast of performances (even the radio playing songs) are subject to monetary compensation for the performance. If you own a restaurant, and play the radio as part of the commercial environment, the music you play is in fact, a public performance for your patrons, and according to the law, you as the proprietor owe the “artists” (really the owners of the publishing rights) for that performance. Proprietors of restaurants have to pay artists a “blanket royalty” each year that is separate from any CD they may own.

The cultural “mis-step” that most of the buying public makes is assuming that because you have paid for a physical record (the medium to which the record/performance is affixed, the example being referred to most often in this discussion being Digital Compact Discs), that in owning that physical media, one has now been granted the right to consume that performance in any method of their choosing, including, the copying and distributing of that performance on any other media.

shadling21's avatar

@sndfreQ- This “blanket royalty”... How is it distributed amongst artists? What about the levies Canadians pay? DJ licenses? I’m just curious.

sndfreQ's avatar

@shadling21: if you google or wiki Performing Rights Organization you’ll find ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Soundscan, Creative Commons, etc. These are all services that serve as clearing houses for collecting and distributing mechanical and synchronization royalties to the respective owners of copyrights worldwide.

TaoSan's avatar


If you peruse the thread you’ll find that I am actually a proponent of file-sharing. However, I am for economic reasons. From a macroeconomic standpoint I do believe that filesharing will enhance sales, not hamper them, so for me it is not an “anti-establishment” statement.

Other than that, soundfrQ has very eloquently made the case to the point.

Ever since the recording industry conglomerated, the “license granted” hasn’t really changed much, and it is indeed a misunderstanding that intellectual property transfers ownership with the sale of a medium.

I think no one doubts that the MPAA and RIAA go way overboard with their attempts to protect their “what, when and where” – monopoly. They’re evil, no doubt.

We must be careful though, not to become like the “distribution network”. Saying you have no control over your purchased music, is simply not right.

Pay 10 to 12 bucks for a CD, make a back-up copy or rip it to iTunes and use the original medium as backup, that’s not really obscene. (Although I think it’s obscene that the artist will only receive a minor fraction).

To put it another way, I get a Cinnamon Spice Mocha when I go to work every day, and a Frappucino or something when I’m done. That’s around the same amount of money. Considering how much I cherish some of my favorite music, then that’s hardly worth a a second thought. (of course there are people who don’t have it that easy, I understand that too, but as we discuss large-scale business we have to move around the median).

I do agree with you, the industry is broken and the four major labels are about as horrible as any mega-corporation that produces for the fraction of a penny on the Dollar.

Love the artist – hate the label….

andrew's avatar

From my earlier post here.

As an actor who lives off of residuals and a long-time professional creator of software, piracy is a subject very close to my heart.

Before I begin, let’s get real about why people pirate: for 90% of us, it’s not because the prices are ridiculous, or because piracy is a political act against the hegemony of evil corporate capitalism. It’s because people like getting stuff for free. It’s analogous to [most] hackers defending their actions as political acts, when, let’s face it: defacing that girl’s Hanson fansite on Angelfire is a real power trip.

@squirbel frames the discussion very nicely (though I think it’s markedly more complex than progressivism vs. capitalism). Do we need more granular ways of defining ownership and copyright? YES!!! Do we need better methods of distributing art and digital property? YES!

But let’s talk about the people at the big record labels. Most of the low and mid-levelers are kids in their late twenties, scrounging to make a buck, and when Electra folded when Napster exploded, they lost their jobs.

Now, the topics of “whether art and capitalism can co-exist” and “the productization of art” are beyond the scope of the question, but for every “rich artist” there are thousands of “working artists” who depend on that commercial gig to make ends meet, and when the providers of those gigs—the labels, the studios, the commercial agencies—cut back on the work because of piracy, or because people stop watching commercials and the companies have to rely on product placement instead, the “working actors” are the ones who get screwed. You cannot be a working artist in the US without a commercial source of income.

I think the real question we should be asking is: “How can we make piracy irrelavent?” Better distribution and monetization technologies to address the obvious market desire is great (see iTunes). But even better would be government subsidies for artists so that when people do pirate your songs or TV show or your code, you don’t hurt as much—but that will never happen in the US (and perhaps it shouldn’t).

But, until subsidies arrive, or we change our methods of paying for media, I’m still saying that piracy really, really stinks.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i do download music, however, only sparingly. for instance, let’s say i downloaded the plain white t’s cd. and i hate it (which i do). i delete it, and have not spent money on an album i would not have liked, nor are they getting money for making music that annoys me (which in my opinion is the way i think it should be). let’s say i download a cd by of montreal. and i’m like, “oh hey i really like this”. my next step is, 95% of the time, going to their show when they come, investing in their shirts or something, and probably actually buying their music on cd/vinyl. i know not everyone does this, but i usually only download music if i a) cannot find it anywhere else (if it was a limited release, like when bands will release a song ONLY in japan or something) or b) don’t know if i’m going to like it. i don’t listen to the radio so that’s how i figure out if i’m into a band.
also, regardless of whether this is being selective and still being wrong or not, i am much more likely to download music from a very popular artist on a huge label. if i’m listening to a small band on an indie label that most likely needs a lot of help, i am totally willing to actually buy their music. if it’s someone on, say, warner or something, i’m a bit more likely to just download the music and not have a guilty conscience. [;

TaoSan's avatar

yeah, I think the “liking stuff for free” is (hopefully) only a minor part of the file-sharing community.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

May as well NOT do it

ilvorangeiceblocks's avatar

as long as i don’t get viruses i don’t mind it much.

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