The war on illegal downloading.

I understand fully all the legal consequences and moral implications of illegal downloading, but I strongly feel this is a battle that will never be won. You can

monitor our IP addresses on the daily, order subpeonas for appearances in court, limit our internet usage, and fine us to the point that we all have to file

bankruptcy, but honestly, are these measures actually deterring the crime or increasing it? The recording industry and several media outlets like to cover the dark

side of illegal downloading, but there are also some positives to be considered.

For instance, illegal downloading is great for struggling artists who are trying to make a name for themselves. Sure, sure, there’s the counterargument concerning

major artists, but look at it this way: People that actually care about music (and rest assured our generation puts a HUGE emphasis on the importance of music. Don’t

believe me? Just take a good look at all the people toting aroudn iPods around the city.) will find SOME way to contribute to the artist’s salary. We may illegally

download a song, an album, or an entire discography, but we reciprocate this by purchasing concert tickets, attending live performances, buying miscellaneous

merchandise/memorabilia, and telling our friends about the artists we listen to–hello free advertising! Let’s not forget to mention what those small struggling

artists do for the recording industry. Sooner or later, these smaller artists are going to produce a sizable amount of listeners and followers. What does this mean?

This means, that those once struggling artists are now on the market for a record label to record the artist’s songs and distribute them to the masses as they see fit.

Additionally, they’re going to need publicisits, managers, sound technicians… see where I’m going with this? There is money to be made even if the recording industry

thinks otherwise.

If the recording industry seriously intends to battle illegal downloading, they should probably reconsider their business model and change the way they choose to

market their music. Music affficiandos will always appreciate having a tangible object that they can display in their homes and have just in case their computer

crashes (trust me, I’ve lost my music collection several times, it really sucks, but lucky for me I have the albums shacked away somewhere in my closet).

There was a GREAT marketing gimmick that Radiohead did back in 2007 when they released their album, “In Rainbows” that worked beautifully. The band chose to distribute

their album electronically for a price that the fans could choose. Some opted to pay nothing, while others made contributions as little as a penny for the album up to

about $20 for the album.

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Radiohead’s release of their last “album” on a pay-what-you-want basis worked out. Only 40% of users paid for it. Did they stumble trying to sidestep the tradiitonal channels?

This month’s Wired has an interview between Thom Yorke and David Byrne (looking oh so wizened).

“Q: Are you making money on the download of In Rainbows?

A: In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever – in terms of anything on the Net. And that’s nuts. It’s partly due to the fact that EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.” (

Enough said, I could go on forever on this subject. I think a great anaology for this issue can be illustrated as thus: Illegal downloading is like the war on drugs, you may be able to apprehend a handful of people, but you cannot catch us all. We will find a way around the system. :p


7 thoughts on “The war on illegal downloading.

  1. I agree so much, it is not even funny. However, I find myself less and less interested in musical artists who are vocal in their stance against music “piracy”. It’s just not worth my time, not at all. I am more drawn to musicians who WANT to give their music away, who tell people at their concerts, “You can buy our CD in back, or go download it for free online.” Because musicians who just want me to hear their music tend to be more honest, tend to make better music. With so much good music available at my finger tips, I don’t care or have time for dishonest musicians. It’s just not worth my energy.

    I am reminded again of one of the best blog posts I ever read, written by my favorite musician. She has been around since 1981 and has has two successful albums on a major labor, has toured with REM and sang with Michael Stipe. She says, “File sharing is constructive, not destructive. Share the she-it out of my stuff, let me worry about the “damage” it causes. […] Who in their right mind would become a musician if money was their primary concern?”

    This artist gives away her music for free, every song, encourages you to share her music in every way imaginable. And I still buy all of her CDs in stores, pay for the songs I get online, “subscribe” to her music (I pay $10 a month to be her “fan”) and go to concerts and buy merchandise all over the country. If the music is honest, the money will follow. Not the other way around.

  2. Your argument relies on that “illegal” downloading is both illegal and immoral, while in reality it should be neither.

    The RIAA is about the only entity that really cares about this crap, because they have the most to lose. They’re coming after college students because we’re easy targets.

    This is a quote from an interview with Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman from the RIAA:
    “College students have reached a stage in life when their music habits are crystallized, and their appreciation for intellectual property has not yet reached its full development.”

    So what they’re saying is college students are smart enough to know what kind of music we like, but we’re not smart enough to understand what intellectual property is. What they’re saying is that we college students, who can vote and be sent off to war, can’t make “sound decisions about intellectual property.”

    The system, like any other in America, is set up to protect the rich, these organizations that leach off of both the general public and the artists themselves. Tyler Durden had the right idea. We should blow shit up.

  3. Hahaha! Tyler Durden! Right on! When it all boils down to it, this is not a war on illegal downloading. Sure, the recording companies use artists to make us feel bad for our downloading behaviours, but they don’t really actually care about the artists. They care about themselves. They’re after the paper chase. This is why we continue to do what we do. We college students aren’t completely duped. We KNOW that the artists don’t get jack from record sales. I’ve interviewed a few bands on the subject to help me out in that department. So, in closing, I feel no remorse whatsoever for sticking it to the man because I know that I’m doing my part as a true music fan to help support the bands I choose to listen to.

  4. I might be opening a can of worms here and I’m not trying to rain on your parade but what are we trying to prove with this argument? I completely understand that you guys have your loyalties with certain artists and that you’re not so fond of record labels (to put it lightly) but I think we’re forgetting what should really be asked here: Is this ethical? We’re stealing music, and regardless of your motive, it’s still stealing. An artist may publicly announce that they want you to download their music but you’re still stealing from the record label.

    I think d3zuhr4y makes some very valid points in favor of downloading but many of them could be argued against. One point I found a little off setting was where it stated that the smaller bands will grow and eventually bring in the revenue that they otherwise would have lost through downloading. I guess I question the probability of all of these artists making it big and actually doing that. I think someone in class mentioned that 1 out of 10 artists who are signed to a label actually make it anywhere. I just don’t feel like that would be enough to cover the debt already created. I’m not trying to bash your argument at all, I just think it’s important that we keep in mind the other side (even as greedy as you may think the record labels are).

  5. I can see the valid arguements for all of you and katherine24’s. I am no music buff and I certainly don’t follow any bands. But what kathrine24 said it true. We are stealing music from people who are trying to get out there and show people their artistic value.

    Nowadays, most people listen to radio stations who play songs that have so much “added” material (i.e. Britney Spears, Kanye West, Lil Wayne) and we don’t want to pay to buy their CD’s because we can easily download them. The fact that we even HAVE that option is the reason we download them. There really isn’t anything that can be done to stop it but allowing the fans to pay what they choose to seems to be one positive way they can come closer to “dealing” with this issue.

    I guess I just don’t see the importance of downloading a song, regardless if it is actually considered stealing since it has become such a social norm. We used excuses to justify why we do it: “get back at the record companies” “smaller/newer bands can get out there” “free marketing” “everyone else is doing it.” I honestly think illegally downloading has made it harder to appreciate artistic capabilities in artists today. And one more thing, what about accounting for the people who don’t go to concerts, buy memorabilia, etc. but still download illegally? How are they contributing to the artists at all? I would say there is a large portion of people like this that many are forgetting about.

  6. I think a major aspect that does go overlooked in the music industry is what you have clearly pointed out: the marketing involved. An alternative approach to marketing and advertising may be the solution to losses that record labels are facing.

    If so much of the music industry utilizes the internet as their number one marketing tool, why would they be surprised that their music lovers would use the same medium to get a hold of their music? I think music industry executives do need to re-think their marketing techniques. For instance, if they want people to get back on board with buying CDs (which seems so 90’s now, doesn’t it?) they might need to adapt a less interactive/technological marketing plan that doesn’t involve the internet as much. I don’t know if this means getting out on the streets in heavily populated urban areas, but hey if it did, it’d be different and people may be more willing to go ‘old school’ where the marketers are too.

  7. This is precisely why I titled this post “the war on illegal downloading” simply due to the fact that for every argument one side poses, there are some pretty valid counter arguments to be made. And as we can see here through these comments there are lots of good arguments on the subject of MUSIC. But what about TV shows? Movies? I’m sure these industries are getting hit just as bad. With all these websites popping up streaming bootlegged TV episodes and movies (of poor quality direct from the movie theatres or ripped from a DVD) it makes it hard for me to believe that much is being done in the area of film. When was the last time you were at a movie theatre? Yes, there are signs everywhere indicating that camera equipment is not allowed in the theatres and during the previews there’s all kinds of advertisements speaking of the evils of illegally downloading films or supporting bootleggers, but are they enforcing these issues? I have yet to have someone at the movie theatre ask to check my bag to see if I had any recording equipment on me. That’s how simple it is to get away with something like that because no one enforces it.

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