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The demand for new release music and a strong urgency to get ahold of it by any means possible has led to a rise in online piracy. Many choose to take advantage of online media hosting sites rather than purchasing physical copies of new release music, or purchasing anything at all. Sometimes, people are left in the position where if they could choose to download an album for full price or download it for free with the chance of getting a virus, getting the virus is less of a concern to them.
When we think about it, piracy has been around longer than we realize. Whether it was transferring music on a tape to a blank tape or burning an album for a friend on a disc, it still counts as illegal copyright. Online music sharing has a rather negative impact on cd sales, vinyl sales, and even online sales through websites like Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the music industry has suffered through large amounts of financial loss and has tried to fight back against pirates with lawsuits, but they can never be completely stopped since there are so many people downloading illegal media in just the U.S. alone.
Music hosting sites are being cracked down little by little. Most recently, MegaUpload.com, a very popular media sharing site was shut down in May of this year. MegaUpload was known as a “cyber locker”, a website set up with different sources to download and stream files by its 50 million daily users, like the original Napster.com which was the internet’s first file sharing website. It was launched in 1999 and was shut down by court order in 2001. (Parlof) According to the prosecution, MegaUpload’s operators earned more than $175 million in illegal profits and caused an estimated $500 million in harm to copyright holders. (Fritz)
Many attempts of copyright preventions have been made. In most cases, they increased the risk of being caught and prosecuted for piracy if even for a short while. The copyright protection reform in Sweden formed in April of 2009 decreased Internet traffic by 18 percent during the subsequent six months. It also increased sales of physical music by 27 percent and digital music by 48 percent. (Liang and Adermon) This shows that the only way to prevent online piracy is to scare the people taking part in it.
The last major attempt to take a crack at stopping online piracy was taken in January of 2012, the suggestion of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA. SOPA would have been used to stop unauthorized information from leaking to certain places it shouldn’t. Internet service providers would block access to certain websites and the law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, granting a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison. (Band) SOSA was not passed due to the large threat American citizens felt was proposed on their internet security. Internet companies would be able monitor user activity much closer. (Maybe too close.) Many did not agree with this.
Numerous sites try to avoid lawsuits by taking an even more creative approach to sharing free music. Versus hosting music right on their personal site, they will link out to several cyber locker websites which hold the files the user is searching for. These sites display several messages promoting supporting the artists and if you enjoy the music, to go out and buy the album. The only problem with this is that too many people find that it is hard to go out and buy the album after they have already listened to what they wanted to hear and when you already have the files in your possession, it’s kind of like “what’s the point?” after that.
This is where music streaming sites such as Spotify, Bandcamp, and Pandora come into play, you can legally stream any music you want for free anywhere you want, but you cannot download these files to your mobile device or burn them to a disc legally, even though there are sites that that allow you to convert these files to downloadable mp3 files, it is still just as illegal as downloading the files straight from a cyber locker.
The music industry vs. online pirates war on music will continue to go on for now. The music industry loses money while online users risk threatening viruses on their device and a chance at getting into legal trouble, while the amount of piracy related crimes a year are low, sometimes it isn’t worth the chance of going to prison over a five dollar music download that you could have purchased to support your favorite artist to continue making the music you enjoy and love.
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