Piracy: Negative or Positive?

Most people understand that piracy is something that harms the music industry. When something has a copyright and you download it, leeching, from another source for free, you are pirating and this is illegal. Seeding, or sharing this illegally received content is also a violation of a copyright. The RIAA acknowledge that piracy is an ongoing problem and that it has caused revenues to the music industry to drop, due to the rapid increase in technology since around 2000.

The chart from MusicBuinessWorldwide.com shows the decrease of the global recorded music income from 1999-2014.

One of the ways that the industry has tried to make up for the $12 billion loss is to due the individuals that they can find that are illegally obtaining and distributing music. The second way is to lay off workers that the industry to stay on top of their financial standing. So far there have been layoffs that have led to around 71,000 people without jobs.

The increasing cost of music is a factor in why people have started to illegally download music. Although the availability of sharing websites have contributed to a large part of why people have chosen to pirate music.

The difference between sharing that is legal and sharing that is illegal is if what you are sharing has a copyright. Most problems occur because some people that are downloading and sharing these filed don’t recognize when something is copyrighted or not. A good way to know is if it could be purchased somewhere else. There are many websites that give useful information for people that have questions pertaining to illegal vs. legal sharing as well as copyright information. One good example is computerhope.com.

On the other hand, there are some people that believe that piracy is not always a bad thing.

Two faculty members from Foster School of Business that had done research and come up with some interesting results. They created an economic model, from an in depth study of software, game, and entertainment producers and this exposed information that led them to believe that piracy has some sort of positive effect as well. Lahiri, one of the faculty members, says that it is because piracy injects competition into the market and this is good for customers. This could lead to better products at lower prices. They have also discovered that the world’s most substantial producers of digital goods has increased their innovation instead of it disappearing. Companies are investing in the quality of their work to offset piracy. They acknowledge that piracy is not a good thing and they do not encourage it but they believe that consumers and society actually benefit when there is a small amount of piracy.

Although this is not the most common way to look at it this is the first of ideas that piracy may not be all bad. In the end, pirates take away from a firm’s revenue and make them compete with their own content.

Is piracy all bad or does it create healthy competition?

2 thoughts on “Piracy: Negative or Positive?

  1. Kevin George

    When I first read the title of the blog post, I was immediately drawn towards it. Not because of content of the article, but for the mere fact that I do not even know where I draw the line regarding piracy. After reading the whole post, I found Megan Gordon’s take on piracy to be very insightful. Is it completely negative or is there a silver lining as a result to piracy?

    The cold hard facts have a definite answer to that question. In 1999, the global recorded music income was approximately 26.6 billion dollars. In 2014, the income dropped to a low of 14.97 billion dollars. That gradual decline can be attributed to many things, but the central cause to this is undoubtedly the rise of piracy. In addition to the substantial monetary loss, the music industry had to combat the financial loss with fiscal changes. Most importantly, the industry saw drastic employee layoffs numbering around 71,000 people. Another loser in this is the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America. This trade organization, which is supposed to support the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies, has failed to enforce and regulate the issue of piracy. While RIAA is supposed to protect intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels, the music industry sees rising losses each year and failed regulation.

    With that being said, Ms. Gordon addresses some things that may extremely influence your take on piracy. First, she states that piracy injects competition into the market, which is excellent for consumers. As a result, competition will cause better products at lower prices. Also, innovation in the music industry has increased due to piracy and producers have tried to make advancements in order to offset the losses.

    While I totally understand both sides of the argument, my personal take is incorporates both. The rising costs in the music industry have been quite hefty. While I do not support piracy on an ethical standpoint, I do understand why people would illegally download music. Plus, downloading music illegally is quite easy and almost everyone does it. Even though, this does not validate piracy, it makes it easier on someone’s conscience.

    Another point I want to address is the music industry is not being affected equally by piracy. Mainstream artists main source of revenue is not due to sales. Instead, they make their money from tours and endorsements, both of which are not affected by piracy. However, small artists who strive on album or song sales are at an extreme loss compared to the time prior to piracy.

    Overall, I enjoyed Ms. Gordon’s post; however I was hoping she addressed the rise of the digital music market like Pandora and Apple Music due to piracy. Regardless, the post amused me especially since my take on this issue has been in limbo.

  2. alley ehrhardt

    In the article “Piracy: Negative or Positive?” Megan discusses both the negative and positive impacts that piracy has on the music industry. In the included chart of annual global recorded music income from 1999-2014, it demonstrates a loss of approximately $12 billion. With the increase in technology, comes the increase in finding ways to use these advancements to avoid being inconvenienced or in this case, pay for music. In the late 90s, early 2000s, people would wait in lines in music stores as well as department stores for their favorite artists’ new cds to be released. In 2001, itunes was created: a resource where songs can be sold individually as well as albums and can be purchased on a computer. Songs used to cost around .99 cents, however now a days, most likely as a result of the competition created from piracy, prices have raised to $1.29. As an alternative to legally purchasing music via itunes or in a store, sites have begun to post songs online that can be downloaded for free. The industry had made attempts to sue those who they are able to catch pirating and sharing illegally download content, but this extends to more than just music, but movies and books as well. The advancements in computer technology have made it so easy to just go online and illegally download a new album instead of paying $12 for it. In Megan’s article, she brings up the idea that piracy may actually create healthy competition in the industry. Although it may create competition, it forces the artists to compete with their own original copyrighted content, which they worked hard to create and sell for a profit. We must also consider the fact that around 70,000 jobs are lost each year in the U.S alone in an attempt to conserve costs being lost through piracy. The U.S does not even make the cut for the top ten countries with the highest illegally downloaded content, which really puts into perspective the amount of revenue and jobs lost as a result of this easy way out of simply paying for music. Megan brings up the point that piracy may cause artists to invest more in the quality of their work in order to offset piracy. However, in my opinion I feel that piracy is always a bad idea and should result in consequences for those who participate. Along with the technological increases, it has become easier and easier for songs to be leaked prior to being sold in stores which causes a large, eager crowd, to illegally download and share these songs online. It is hard to avoid all of the powerful effects of technology, but piracy has definitely caused a negative impact on the music industry, as well as the movie industry and even the book industry. It is important to remember that even though it may seem easier and more convenient to download content for free with the click of a button, we must consider the time and effort that was put forth by artists, directors, etc. to create content that their viewers would enjoy. Therefore, I believe that piracy is a negative idea and although it creates competition, it is not a healthy form of competition.


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