Piracy in the Digital Music Market
For the last decade, the music industry has labeled illegal file sharing as the wrongdoing that has deprived them of their revenue. Music labels have persecuted both individuals and music downloading hosts for consuming and providing free music. Instead of developing new strategies to keep their hold on the market, record labels have poured millions of dollars into court cases in order to receive compensation money. Unauthorized illegal downloading is indeed theft, but it is a crime that is nearly impossible to control. This paper will examine the emergence of digital music piracy and its effect on the industry, discuss the attempts by the United States Government at regulating the issue, and conclude with suggestions on how digital music piracy should be addressed in the future.
Music piracy has been occurring for hundreds of years, pitting the music industry against consumers. Widespread bootlegging of records during the 1960s and 1970s prompted the music industry to lobby for the Rome Convention, which made unauthorized copying of music illegal. Later, the invention of the easy to copy cassette tape lead to the passage of even stronger anti-music piracy laws in the US, but these explicitly allowed for home copying in order to preserve the legality of mix-tapes. In 1992, the record industry actually managed to completely block a new innovation known as the Digital Audiotape, due to its ease of creating high-fidelity copies of music. With the onset of the 21st century and the increased popularity of the internet, the first signs of digital music piracy became apparent. Napster, among the first and most popular MP3 sharing services, granted users unlimited access to its extensive music database. Napster became a cultural phenomenon, attracted 25 million users at its peak, and offered approximately 80 million songs (Espejo, 3). After lawsuits from Sony and numerous other record labels, Napster was forced into...