Piracy shakes up record industry

Lauren Spencer

Music artists today are getting stabbed in the back, this time not by faulty contracts, but by the fans that illegally download music as opposed to buying CDs.CD sales are down dramatically. According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s Web site, downloading music for free causes $12.5 billion of economic losses each year. The ability to download music was made easy with the invention of Napster, the first file-sharing program to hit the Internet between 1999 and 2001. Downloading music became a trend that swept the world and has now become the norm. The craze angered many associated with the music industry, because fans were stealing from them by downloading their music for free. Once Napster was invented, many other downloading programs joined the craze, including BearShare, Morpheus and LimeWire. All of the programs allow a person to download not only music, but also videos, pictures, computer programs and documents all for free. “I download from LimeWire sometimes, but why buy CDs when you can get (music) for free?” said Yesenia Vargas, 20, undecided major.The music industry’s new struggle is trying to convince people that have the same mentality as Vargas to buy CDs, rather than illegally download them. The introduction of the iPod presented a whole new bag of issues because it made digital music more accessible. The only exception was iTunes, which was launched in 2001 and enabled anyone to download music, movies, TV shows and more. While public is able to download specific songs or episodes from a TV show at 99 cents and higher, there are also items that can be downloaded from iTunes for free. This raises the question: How can the industry convince people who have the ability to get something for free, to go out and spend money on a product? “I have to like the artist a lot and if I can’t wait, then I have to rush to get (the CD),” said Armine Moskovyan, 19, journalism major. Someone could be at fault for illegally possessing copyrighted material without even knowing they are breaking the law. If they receive an email with any copyrighted songs and send that email to others, they have broken the law. Using a CD burner to burn copies of songs for others is also breaking the law. The minimum civil penalty is $750 per song according to the RIAA. “(Downloading music) is unfair. They work hard. Yeah, I’m stealing music, but it’s a guilty pleasure,” said Raushan Garnett, 19, undecided major.Most people do not realize the serious consequences of illegally downloading copyrighted material. The penalties for first-time offenders can include sentencing of up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, according to the RIAA. Before the accessibility of file sharing, a consumer would have to risk spending the last of their spare cash or a month’s worth of saved up lunch money on a CD, in hopes that the album was worth all the trouble. “If I don’t like the CD, then I’m not going to be stuck paying $20,” said Cory Seals, 19, business major.Having the ability to download music is more convenient for fans than tracking down a physical copy of the CD. People do still buy CDs and songs off of iTunes and whatever else they have to offer, but there are still many people who download illegally, keeping record sales down. Even if a song does not become a hit single on the music charts, there is still a lot of work and money that is put into producing music and it is thrown away by the lack of concern for an artist labor.”That’s their living and we’re stealing their money, but we do it anyway,” said David Rodriguez, 19, undecided major. “That’s like if you come to my restaurant and don’t tip.”