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Downloading Music: Pirating or Sharing?

Updated on May 21, 2011

Downloading Music: Pirating or Sharing?

There exist probably hundreds of sites on the Internet that offer file 'sharing'. Sharing a file is simply making a copy, putting it on a web-connected computer, and allowing others to download copies.The most famous, or infamous, was Napster. Napster started out as a free site to which people 'contributed' copies of music and software. Eventually Congress got involved, making a public example (some called it a witch hunt) of Napster while essentially ignoring the plethora of copy cats that almost immediately popped up.

Is downloading music and software pirating or file sharing? Some bands willingly contribute part or all of their work to public file sharing sites, while others fight to keep control of their performances. Making matters even more complicated, countries around the world have wildly different laws on the subject.

Downloading Music: It's Pirating

From the point of view of the recording company or studio that produced the performance, it's often considered theft. Big shot recording executives and lawyers consider it pirating music. The company exists to turn a profit, it assumed the risks involved with developing a new talent, and it put forth the capital required to pay the equipment and promotion costs for the project.

Downloading Music: It's Sharing

From the point of view of the down-loader, it's sharing and there's nothing wrong with it. No one is being damaged because if they like the music they might go out and purchase the CD. If they don't like the music they wouldn't have bought it anyway. It's immoral to make so much money from a music recording; it should be available to everyone at no cost after it's paid for itself.

Sometimes There's no Doubt

It is possible to download tunes without any worry about accusations of illegal downloading. Some file sharing ethics are cut-and-dried with no room for argument. If the artist self-produces and voluntarily places the performances on file sharing sites, it's all good.

Is file-sharing illegal?

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    • Ron Mariano profile image

      Ron Mariano 8 years ago

      I don't want to be all goody-goody here but I don't download. I take a listen on youtube, haha and see if I like it. Sometimes I got the radio on the whole day and when I like the song and they say the name of the artist, i write it down. Sometimes, On satellite radio, I write down the names of the songs and the artists. And if really like them, I spend a few bucks to buy the CD.

      I myself am a songwriter and an aspiring musician. I would like to make money on selling my work. Most people can't afford the product so therefore they download it. But its all good as the idea of "sharing" is still legal.

      Great hub! That is indeed something to think about. Is it piracy or simply sharing?

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Adam: That is a great idea. People buy discographys and the price of the device can be trivial compared to what they'll spend.

    • profile image

      Adam 8 years ago

      I was thinking along the lines of discographys of like the rolling stones or something, It would be a lot cheaper to ship and carry a thumb drive with every cd on it then to carry around / ship a big box of cd's. I have seen car stereos that accept FAT formatted USB drives as media....

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Adam: Good questions. You can buy an MP3 player for the price of a thumb drive, then purchase music for it seperately. The recording companies would have a difficult time selling one song per thumb drive, so they just sell the music and leave their customers to pick out the player. There might be a market for selling a player pre-loaded with a few songs. Good idea.

    • profile image

      Adam 8 years ago

      Speaking of media changes, why can't I buy music on USB thumb drives or why are some music labels not allowing any content to be downloaded, even purchased downloads like Amazon MP3 or Itunes?

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Creative publishing is a very good description. The Internet isn't going away; the old model can't be sustained to the same levels of profit.

      Funny how the price of recorded media didn't drop when the industry switched to CD from cassettes and records; a CD is trivial to manufacture compared to the complexity the other two.

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 8 years ago from Ohio

      Good is going to take creative publishing to even out the losses in the recording industry. They were warned back in the 80s about the net technology....they ignored the they are whining.


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