11/07/2005

Illegal Downloading

How many of us have been involved in downloading a song off the internet, or even having our roommate burn us a CD of downloaded songs? How many of us have ever payed any money, besides the cost of burnable CD's, for this music? I think we are all guilty in one way or another. Grokster, a downloading service was forced to shut down after a piracy case was filed by Hollywood and the music industry for stealing songs and movies online. I can imagine how upset I would be if i was a music artist and no one payed for my music, they just stole it off the internet. I think we all would be a little upset if we didn't get payed for our work. Even though, we still do it. Not to mention this can't be good for the economy. There isn't any revenue going in, or coming out of this.

5 comments:

Marie Antoinette said...

I think that most people, myself included, have a really hard time considering something "wrong" if there is absolutely no way to get caught or punished, or if we don't see who we are hurting. It's still pretty hard to get caught for piracy, and the only people it hurts are rich people--rich people who are far far away.
I'm not excusing it, I'm just venturing my guess about why it happens

Jasmine said...

I understand the argument here but I just have a hard time feeling bad about downloading music. The musicians are still making millions of dollars despite programs such as Grockster, etc., I think once someone buys a cd or a song, it should become their property and they should be able to share it with whomever they choose. I don’t see how it is any different from taping a song off of the radio, or recording a movie off of the TV. Long-live free music!!

Dr. Tufte said...

I have a real hard time with this issue, both socially and professionally.

I don't have any sympathy for "musicians" on this - they get very little from CD sales relative to concert tickets and merchandise. If this is theft, then it is mostly from shareholders.

I also have a lot of trouble with the idea that downloading is theft. Goods have two features: private goods are excludable and rivalrous, while public goods are neither. To me, theft involves rivalry - that your use of something interferes with others use of that thing. What the music companies have though, is excludability - that they can keep you from buying a CD without paying for it. I am not sure that excludability is a sufficient condition to call downloading theft. By that criterion, listening to music that you didn't buy is a violation (albeit of a clearly lesser variety) of the same principle.

This is made harder by the fact that they make this stuff freely available on radio. In what sense do they retain a right to a product which they are giving away in essentially unlimited quantity for free?

Lastly, there is the issue of copyright. This permits you and only you to profit from your intellectual property. Having said that, it does not guarantee you the right to mark up over marginal cost. So, while their position has some standing, I am not sure that if music companies are wronged, that they are entitled to what they think you would have paid, or instead for a recoupment of their marginal costs. Obviously they want the former, but I can't see how they are harmed by being paid the latter; being harmed and not going unharmed are not the same thing.

Matthew said...

Dr. Tufte brought up many points in his comment, some that I agree with, and some that I disagree with.
Theft is theft, no matter who it is from, the musicians or the shareholders. If musicians don't make money, then there would be no incentive to produce. If the shareholders don't make money, then no one will produce the music for the musicians.
Music is free to listen to on the radio, but it is in a lower quality and you can't listen to it whenever you want. It's not the same thing.
If there were no copyrights or patents, people would have no incentive to produce. I know that I wouldn't want someone giving away all of my work for free when I could have sold it.

Dr. Tufte said...

I think you're right.

But ... what we are seeing here is the dissolution of the old supply chain. This really isn't about music, it's about preserving a supply chain that was profitable. I think we'd be a whole lot less sympathetic to the music industry if we recognized that their core competency was not music but distribution.