Should Music Sharing Be Illegal?

  Tags: politics   law   music   society   technology   internet   business   entertainment   copyright   music sharing   piracy


This debate is about the sharing and copying of music in which others (such as friends) who have not paid, also listen to the music. There is a separate debate on whether [a url=http://deb8.us]personal archival copies of media should be legal[/a] and the general [a url=http://deb8.us]media rights debate[/a] which includes books, videos, newspapers, and other information.

Terminology and Concepts

"Fair" is Subjective.

Businesses are motivated to earn the most amount of money, and may be biased when claiming that something is "fair".
Consumers are motivated to pay the least amount of money, and may be biased when claiming that something is "fair".

Laws Protect Trade, Not Profits.

Laws protect businesses from theft, unnatural monopolies, and other situations that hinder or favor one business to another that prevents healthy, free trade. Laws do not exist in order to protect business profit. For example, when cars were invented, they were a threat to the horse carriage industry. However, free market allows for better products to replace inferior products as the consumer's discretion.

Thus, this debate is equivalent to the question, "Does music sharing create an unfair trade environment?"

Free Markets and Contracts

Many free trade laws are designed to ensure equal opportunity, business ethics, and healthy competition. Typically, the relationship between a business and a consumer is much more simple. Businesses can choose to sell their product at their desirable price, or not sell at all. Consumers can choose to buy their products at their desirable price, or not buy at all. "Buyer beware" policy is common.

Businesses usually protect themselves by attaching terms and conditions to the sale of a product. If the terms are legal, then purchase would require the buyer to abide by those terms of the contract. Breaking the rules of the terms would be illegal. In free markets, the terms are a part of the product being sold. If a buyer does not like the terms of the agreement, they should naturally not make the purchase. Market forces would naturally find a balance at a price that is reasonable to both the buyer and seller, and a usage contract that is reasonable to both the buyer and seller.

Thus, this debate is equivalent to the question, "Is a no-share no-copy clause in the contract terms legal?". It can also be worded as, "Do market forces lack the ability to naturally allow terms for music media to be decided between businesses and consumers?"

If it is legal, there are additional issues regarding the friend of the buyer, who may or many not have known about the clause in the contract. They may be considered an unwitting accessory to the illegal breaking of the contract.

Ownership Issues

There is a separate debate on the [a url=http://deb8.us]ownership and right to do as you please with a product[/a], as long as it does not break other laws.

Copyright Issues

What is a copyright?

Copyright protects the author of an original piece of work and grants that author an exclusive right for a certain time, other rights In relation to that work. That would include publication, distribution, and adaptation. Copyright applies to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantiative and discrete in fixed medium (in this case, music).That means the creator can sell it, create new work adapted from the original work, perform or display the work publicly which would include radio or video (commonly called broadcasting rights).

Sharing a Copyright

Transferring and licensing terms used to describe how and when a copyright can be used. Licensing is a simple definition means under certain conditions another person or entity can use the original work. If a person or entity decides not to license the original work from the original owner that is called copyright infringement (or copyright violation). It is an unauthorized use of the material.

Copyrights were originally intended to protect authors from others who attempt to copy their work in order to make a profit. Licensing is something that occurs between a business and another business to ensure free trade and healthy competition. Licensing is not something between a business and a consumer with no motive to use the product in any profitable (business-like) fashion.

Since copyright is a natural contract for all created works, this debate is also equivalent to the question, "Should (and to what extent) should copyright be legally enforceable between a business and a consumer?"

Statistics and Trends

The Music Business

In 2008 to Digital music business internationally grew by 25% to $3.7 billion. Consumer demand for music is higher than ever to Nielsen SoundScan reported overall sales at an all-time high in the US in 2008. 2 The US is the world leader in digital music sales, accounting for some 50% of the global digital music market value. Single track downloads crossed the 1 billion mark for the first time in 2008, totaling 1.1 billion, up 27% from 2007.

Unauthorized Free Music

Separate studies in 16 countries over a three-year period revealed more than 40 billion files were illegally file shared in 2008, giving a piracy rate of around 95%. Overall 16% of Internet users in Europe regularly swapped in fringing music on file sharing services in 2008. national Federation of phonographic industry(IFPI) has a anti-piracy team that looks for links to Web addresses that are infringing music. In 2007 the team removed 550,000 links. In 2008, that number increased to over 3 million![2]

Other Related Background Information

File sharing on wikipedia.org
Peer-to-peer downloading on wikipedia.org

Weak and Invalid Arguments (The Penalty Box)

Evidence of the revenue that the music industry revenue has lost, in itself, is not an argument that supports music sharing should be illegal. It is only a statistic, since protecting profits is not a valid/ethical reason for legislation (as described above). This has been removed from [arguments for] and moved into the neutral zone.

Arguments For

Yes, music sharing/copying should be illegal.

Music sharing creates an unfair trade environment.

Downloading music without paying for it betrays the artist who created it. It stifles the careers of new artists and up-and-coming bands.

The industry is unsustainable due to the high cost of music production, and would essentially be eliminated due to the practice of copyright infringement by consumers.

The no-share no-copy clause in contract terms are legally permissible.

Copyright and terms of agreement are clearly stated and the consumers should be able to protect their media.

[h]Market forces lack the ability to naturally allow terms for music media to be decided between businesses and consumers.[/h]

Consumers can copy and share the product with complete ease, but the business cannot produce and create the product as easily. The pricing point which would compensate for the losses due to sharing would increase to an amount so high that nobody would want to purchase the music. The buyer has an unfair advantage in this transaction that cannot be resolved by changing the price.

[h]Copyright should be legally enforceable between a business and a consumer.[/h]

Copyright should protect the authors of works even with consumers, since when copied, the authors incentives break down as much as if the work was copied and sold by another business.

Arguments Against

No, sharing/copying music should be legal.

Music sharing does not create an unfair trade environment.

Consumers choose to buy music. Businesses choose to sell music. The sharing that occurs is no different from sharing a lawnmower with your neighbor. Your neighbor would have no legal rights to complain about the purchase, because the neighbor did not purchase it. The business would have no legal rights to complain about the purchase, because the business did not sell it to the neighbor.

The no-share no-copy clause in contract terms are not legally permissible.

A business should not be able to force legal restrictions through contract on how the product can be used. As long as use of the product does not break any other laws, the business has no right to create additional restrictions on the consumer.

A consumer should be able to jump up-and-down on a CD, scribble on it with markers, or use it as a coffee cup coaster with freedom. Giving it away for free "hurts" the buyer, who had to paid for it. But if they choose to make the sacrifice, they should be allowed.

Market forces have the ability to naturally allow terms for music media to be decided between businesses and consumers.

The music industry is dragging its heels in creating legitimate online music business model.[3] Buyers can stop buying music and sellers can stop selling music, legal manipulation stifles free markets and healthy competition, therefore must be avoided.

Copyright should not be legally enforceable between a business and a consumer.

Downloading songs for non-commercial purposes constitutes fair use.[5]


 1  Music Copyrights September 15, 2009 Wikipedia
 2  Key statistics September 15, 2009 The International Federation Of Phonographic Industry (IFPI)
 3  What's That Song? Other- File Sharing: A Debate September 15, 2009 MREKJ.com
 4  Why You Shouldn't Do It September 15, 2009 Music United.org
 5  Judge rejects fair use argument in file sharing case science/technology July 29, 2009 Jiang, A. UWIRE

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User Comments & Opinion


1 Voted Yes

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Yes, it should remain illegal if you download the song, yet if you listen from an "Internet Radio" it should be fine. - _fraz_ (twitter) 0

2 Voted No

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It shouldn't be illegal. Simply because its just the same as it has always been - users sharing music with eachother. Earlier it was the audio cassette. Then it was the CD-R. Now it's the Internet.

Given that the artists should of course be entitled to compensation, I'd suggest getting rid of the record industry (ie, the major labels) alltogether. They're megalomaniacs, the lot.

I do understand that the RIAA and MPAA and other organisations feel they need to go after file-sharers. But I would really like to see proper numbers for all this - the record industry are blowing it out of all proportions, by claiming they lose millions, if not billions each year to file-sharing. Yet, they still makes lots and lots of money. How many record-companies died during the financial crisis we just experienced?

Going after professional pirates, like the counterfeiting businesses in Asia, would make sense. But this would be too costly, I assume, and would probably make the market in Asia even smaller, so therefore they cho - Junkfoodjunkie (twitter) vote up image vote down image 0
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i think u should be able to listen to it off the internet and share that website with your friends - Daisydook2 (twitter) vote up image vote down image 0
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