For the Preservation of Music

Pirating has obtained a whole new meaning in the 21st century.

Pirating has obtained a whole new meaning in the 21st century.

The depth of information and creative work available on the Internet has marred the 21st century. The availability of this creative work allows music to be downloaded more easily over the Internet. Piracy of MP3’s requires government intervention, because the music industry is failing as a result of this illegal activity.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), around 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded via peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing from 2004 to 2009. As a result, the music industry has incurred 12.5 billion dollars in losses (Adkins). For the music industry to compensate, some individuals that have participated in p2p file sharing have been sued for massive sums of money.

Joel Tenebaum, a resident of Boston Massachusetts has recently been charged with 700,000 dollars worth of fines after being caught downloading 30 songs. The 30 songs do not warrant a massive fine, but the courts want to use Tenebaum as an example of the consiquences of online piracy,  “They are trying to create an urban legend out of me,” Tenebaum asserts, “that it’s not about extracting any kind of money from me. … It’s about the rhetorical power of that example” (Brown)

Illegal downloading is a polarizing subject for small artists. Shack, a small time British rapper believes that piracy is useful for up-and-coming artists, allowing more individuals to be exposed to their music, “I just want people to know my name, talk about me on the street, download my mixtape for free” (Illegal Downloading, What’s the Problem?). Making his music free is a valid marketing ploy, however in the long run; Shack has no guarantee that people will purchase his music once he becomes better known within the music industry.

Musicians who have given up on the industry because they cannot make money are on the other side of the small artist spectrum. An example of this struggle is Ramon Mendoza, the now former guitarist of the hard rock band, The Color Morale. In a statement posted via the bands Facebook page, Mendoza cites his reasoning behind leaving the band:

“I have decided to step down from touring with The Color Morale from this point on to focus on providing for my family. As a lot of you may not know, playing music in this day and age doesn’t make a living. This is why I strongly urge everyone to please support the artist’s you enjoy in any way shape or form you can so they can continue to do what they love for as long as they possibly can.”

The Color Morale is not a completely unknown band, touting over 81,000 “likes” on Facebook, yet members of the band are not earning enough money to sustain a living for their family. Small bands similar to The Color Morale are suffering to survive in the cold and unforgiving world of the music industry. There is no doubt that these bands would be financially better off if governments would work towards preventing illegal downloading.

The internet houses countless numbers of P2P file sharing sites, many of which are known by government officials.  If there are websites that are known to be providing users with illegal copies of mp3’s, why has there been little done in the way of government action against the people in charge of these sites?

Some action has been taken against the proprietors of these sites, however not enough. For example, in 2009, the primary founder of perhaps the most famous torrenting website, The Pirate Bay, Gottfried Svartholm was arrested and tried, along with his close associates, for his role in the websites actions. These actions taken by the Swedish government should be just the start. Governments worldwide need to crack down on the people that promote online piracy. In addition to stopping the people who promote piracy, governments must use legislative action to halt this problem.

The United States Congress sought to fight Internet piracy in early 2012 by voting upon the SOPA legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Introduced in conjunction with the Protect IP Act (PIPA), the bills received endorsement from the RIAA and other companies such as CBS, who supported the legislation because it would protect their copyrighted material.

Conversely, the bills were highly scrutinized by the American public as well as popular websites such as Wikipedia and Google. The bills sought to infringe upon the actions of search engines and to allow internet service providers to block p2p and other sites. The strong public opinion that opposed the bills forced congress to vote against the legislature. Had the bills focused more on preventing piracy, and less on censoring the internet, both bills could have passed; Congress had good intentions in proposing the bills. Congress wanted to prevent piracy by limiting and censoring what web sites can show and do, but some of the legislation was too extreme to be supported by the American people. To save the music industry, The United States and other governments must find the right balance that can stop consumers from stealing music from artists and record companies.

Legislative action on piracy is crucial to ensuring the music industry can once again thrive and flourish.

Image: Techzim


Adkins, Amy. “How Does Illegally Downloading Music Impact the Music Industry?” Small         Business. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012.

Brown, Terrell. “Supreme Court Silent on Illegal Music Downloads.” CBSNews. CBS       Interactive, 22 May 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.

Hookway, James. “Pirate Bay Co-Founder Arrested.” Online Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones        and Company, 2 Sept. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.

Illegal Downloading, What’s the Problem? Dir. Sam Brennan. Perf. Marc Bakos. Youtube. N.p.,    27 June 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.

Magid, Larry. “What Are SOPA and PIPA And Why All The Fuss?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine,   18 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 Nov. 2012.

Mendoza, Ramon. Web log post. Facebook. The Color Morale, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 28 Oct.          2012. <;.


Illegal Downloading, What’s the Problem? Dir. Sam Brennan. Perf. Marc Bakos. Youtube. N.p.,    27 June 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.

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