What is Piracy?

Acts of piracy have been committed ever since music files have been available on the Internet. Piracy “is taking something that doesn’t belong to you without paying for it” (Hart-Davis, 2001, p. xxi). Piracy may not be of much concern for most people because it may be seen as a different kind of theft, compared to the kind that would take place in the real world. Stealing in the real world usually involves something that can be touched. Songs however, do not have a physical form (Hart-Davis, 2001, p. xxi), reducing the likelihood of someone thinking about downloading songs, without the appropriate approval by its creators, as being illegal.

How Advances In Technology Can Increase Piracy

Advances in technology can increase the likelihood of someone downloading songs illegally. The development of newer hardware and software for the use of gaining and/or storing music files can be seen as one of the advances in technology.

A handheld device created by Rio “makes portable MP3 files downloadable from the Internet…it stores music on removable memory cards, which creates another method enabling people to purchase, trade, or obtain pirated music” (Das). This shows how new developments in technology will increase the likelihood of music piracy. New technologies make it easier to download and store music, allowing users the opportunity to share music files with others, which would violate intellectual property rights.

The Rio device was not liked by the recording industries because its “functioning capacity and its lack of certain copyright protection (Das),” which caused the Recording Industry Association of America to “file a lawsuit against Diamond Multimedia…" (Das). This shows that the recording industries are well aware of new technologies and that they are always watching out for devices that may threaten their intellectual property and cause piracy to increase.

Another example showing how advances in technology can increase piracy, would be the development of newer software for the purpose of downloading MP3 files. This can be shown using the example of Napster when, “record companies filed suit alleging contributory and vicarious federal copyright infringement and related state law violations by defendant Napster, Inc” (Radin, Rotchchild, & Silverman, 2004, p.290). This shows how technological advances will always create newer ways for downloading songs online, and will continually keep record companies on the look out for those who commit piracy, or allow a service for piracy to take place.

The Effetcs Piracy May Have on the Record Industry

Pirates may adore getting music online for free, but record companies do not see this as a gift of generosity to downloaders, and would claim that piracy has a negative effect on record companies. It is said that the “main claim of the record companies is the huge revenue losses due to Internet piracy” (Peitz & Waelbroeck). This would explain why the music industry would want to fight piracy in any way they can.

Losses experienced by record companies, would force them to increase CD prices. This can be seen in the following quote: “There is the loss of value for their existing economies of scale for production of the physical products, the CDs themselves” (Easley). This quote shows how record companies lose value by explaining that there is no profit being produced in order to cover the costs needed to manufacture the CDs. The loss in profit suffered by record companies may also result in less music being produced, making it difficult for newer bands to get a recording contract.

What Record Companies May Do In Order to Prevent Piracy From Occurring

Record companies may develop certain methods for reducing or eliminating illegal downloading from occurring. One method is “to produce copy-protected CDs, the contents of which cannot be stored in CD-ROMs or copied to PC hard disks…” (Kinokuni). This would make pirating more difficult, and would reduce the likelihood of pirates placing music on their computers and distributing them to others online.

Another method commonly practiced by record companies is the act of filing a lawsuit. This can be seen in the example of Napster, and how recording companies wanted the service to be shutdown. Music companies have “repeatedly used high-profile lawsuits to deter venture capitalists from providing second and third-round funding to Internet start-up companies” (McCourt & Burkart). This demonstrates how record companies try to induce fear into other companies or individuals that may be thinking about providing funding for online music sites. This method gives an indirect warning to others about starting online music sites, and for those who may be pirating on the Internet.

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