Monday, February 13, 2012

Musicians Losing Profit because of Illegal File-Sharing

One issue in the production and distribution of music is the artists and songwriters benefiting financially from their products.  In the current technologically advanced era, music can be accessed, purchased, and downloaded from a myriad of location, some of which illegal.  Thanks to programs that allow illegal-file sharing, such as limewire, acquisition, and others potential customers can obtain music for free, causing artists and songwriters to receive no compensation for their work.  This is a recent problem due to increases in technology that made obtaining music possible in many different ways.  Not too long ago, customers could only purchase music in the form of CD’s, insuring artists receiving compensation for their work.  Due to the change to the current system, where customers can work around having to pay for their music by file sharing online, unresolved policy issues in the music industry are how individuals guilty of illegal file sharing should be punished and how the music industry should encourage legal music distribution.
           It is crucial this is stopped because artists rely on receiving profits from their work in order to finance their lives.  Not every musician is making millions of dollars and they need this money to purchase necessities, such as health insurance.  For instance, a survey of over a 1000 musicians showed that 33 percent of them didn’t have health insurance.  This is relevant to the music industry, because without the artists and songwriters there is no industry.  As a society that loves music, we should encourage people to create music. The Future of Music Coalition is one group that advocates for musicians receiving pay for the work they created.
In my opinion multiple actions should be taken to address this growing problem.  First, the music industry, artists, and labels should support and help legal music services succeed.  Music providers such as ITunes, Pandora, and YouTube should be aided by the music industry, giving them a clear cut advantage over illegal distribution techniques and giving a reason for customers to pay money for the superior product.  Second, the legal system should make illegal distributing music over file sharing programs a more serious offense than it is currently.  One example of scaring users away from illegal file sharing is the bill Senator Amy Klobuchar proposed recently.  This bill makes illegal streaming of copyrighted work a felony instead of a misdemeanor.  Here is a good article on the bill.  I feel it is important to use the tactics of providing a higher quality content and scaring users away from illegally downloading, because in the current digital era it will be virtually impossible to stop illegal downloading or slow it down too much.  So I feel it should be the government’s policy to scare users away from doing it and the music industries duty to give these scared consumers a new, safer, and better option to download music.

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