I am constantly shocked and amazed at the sheer volume of people that I come across who jump at the opportunity to defend the downloading of copyrighted music as if they’ve somehow earned the rights to the products of artists in this industry. Of those same people, most would shudder at the idea of walking into a tangible music store, yanking a CD containing that same music off of the shelf and walking out with it.
What I want to know is: why have so many people decided that they are morally unaccountable for stealing this same music, online? What makes music such a unique product, that amongst all of the other products out there, that it can be stolen without legal or moral repercussions?
Does the music industry have a right to fight the illegal distribution of copyrighted music that they’ve spent millions producing? As a matter of fact, they absolutely do. Many people will say they do not, insisting that it’s unfair that this Goliath industry is bullying the innocent downloaders and citing that the information leading to the lawsuits was obtained illegally via hacking into private computers. Everyone has their argument that downloading music should be legal, be it the high cost of compact discs, or the small percentage of that cost that actually goes to the artist.
And what if CDs are overpriced? Does that mean you should be allowed to steal them? And whether or not the music industry takes in millions of dollars a year, does that really change the fact that when you download music, you are taking someone else’s property when you should have paid for it? Though it seems innocent at the surface, somewhere down the line, there is someone losing money when you download their music. That makes you a thief.
When people use the arguments that the music industry is a monster, or that they shouldn’t have to pay for a whole album to listen to two good songs, they know deep down that these arguments are flawed. They are simply trying to justify their crimes so they can enjoy listening to their new mix CD without feeling guilty about it.
Is it acceptable then, that the industry is heaping the brunt of their defense on the shoulders of a few random downloaders? I don’t think so. I think the best course of action for them; to avoid further alienating music listeners, is education. The fact of the matter is that not everyone downloading knows that they’re committing a crime, but now you do. Of course, that’s just my opinion.