Sharing isn’t stealing

Discussing the attempt to demonize illegal downloading

Since the popularization of Internet piracy, large entertainment retailers like HMV, which recently filed for bankruptcy have lost the battle against illegal downloading.

Despite how retailers may demonize illegal downloading, it has caused a shift in the music industry rather than a death. If musicians and retailers want to succeed, they need to change their strategy and accept that piracy opens up their product to a greater audience.

Becoming widespread in the early 2000’s with the creation of Napster and Pirate Bay, musicians like Blink-182 and Christina Aguilera attempted to stop piracy because of its disregard of copyright laws and payment to the artist.

But, after a decade, illegal downloading has become popularized and retailers like HMV have greatly suffered — in 2011, the company dropped 88 per cent in shares.

Even if hard copy albums are becoming invaluable, there are still enthusiasts like Jack White of The White Stripes, who have faith in CDs and vinyl. In a 2003 Exclaim! article, White explains why he prefers to buy the album.

“I like to have the artwork and the notes and the lyrics. When it’s on the Internet, it feels like it’s invisible.” Vinyl, which has made a comeback in the last five years, offers another example of enthusiasts who keep this market alive by favouring physical ownership of their music.

Since 2007, vinyl has gained 2.6 million sales units, disproving the notion that hardcopies are dying. Despite what retailers may believe, hard copies in music will never die, even if sales are declining.

Internet piracy has affected musicians as well, but once again, on an increasingly insignificant level.

Only gaining approximately one third of a cent for each song bought on online media libraries like iTunes, piracy takes away this source of income. Some accept this change, while others, like Cory Brandon of metal band Norma Jean say otherwise, calling “pirates” spoiled brats on Twitter in 2011.

“I hope you guys know what it feels like to have thousands of dollars stolen from you only to be told you have an attitude about it,” Brandon said through a series of tweets.

For such a small source of income, the outrage seems unjustified. Musicians should favour piracy, since it gives artists potential for more fans than ever before.

Although their salary is cut, touring has always been a larger source of income for musicians. Ed O’Brien of Radiohead made a statement in 2010 about the issue, maintaining a positive look towards piracy.

“Pirates might not buy an album, but they’re spending their money buying concert tickets, a T-shirt, whatever.”

Musicians like O’Brien admit money can be lost on albums, but in no way do bands lose vital funds.

Since money given to musicians for songs is miniscule, these statements are more of a sensationalized campaign by retailers than an actual crisis.

If you want to support musicians, attend shows, buy merchandise, and possibly, buy their album, but don’t let retailers deter you from using piracy as a way to find new music.


Opinion, piracy

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