I suppose it is because of digital media that this supposed crisis exists. After all, fifteen years ago it was common enough to
I think so, and here’s why. A lot of music is out of print or otherwise unobtainable. At one time, I had a collection of rare, unreleased material by some of my favorite bands. When it comes down to it, I suppose this collection was illegal. But in what way was I hurting the industry? This wasn’t music I was refusing to pay for. I couldn’t pay for it. It simply wasn’t an option. I could either possess the music illegally, or I could never listen to it again. Either way, neither the band nor the record label was going to be getting any money out of me. So why not let me enjoy the music?
Similarly, there is music I enjoy but don’t consider worth the cost of a CD. Now, maybe you’re thinking this is obviously what all music piracy consists of. But I think there is a difference. I think some people don’t want to pay for any music they don’t have to. That certainly isn’t the case with me. I’ve purchased plenty of CD’s I could have “obtained” otherwise. But the fact is, when I consider a CD worth purchasing, I do so. Believe it or not, I want to support the music I enjoy. And when I like an artist enough, I want to own the actual CD, complete with the booklet, rather than a permanent marker replica in a plain, clear case. It’s worth it to me. Still, the fact remains that there are plenty of songs I would enjoy listening to but would never pay for. If it’s absolutely true that I would not purchase this music, then I am not hurting either the record company or the individual artist by “owning” it illegally. And if John Doe sincerely wouldn’t pay for the thousands of CD’s he has on his computer—even if that were his only option—then I don’t think he’s hurting anyone by “stealing,” either.
It would be a much different scenario if people were stealing physical CD’s out of record stores. It would be much different if people would purchase a CD to obtain the music, but choose not to because it is available for “free.” As it is, the digital music revolution now makes many individual songs available via the Internet for just $.99. This means one needn’t spend $15 to legitimately acquire one or two songs from a CD. This fact puts a greater burden on those of us who claim many songs aren’t worth purchasing (even when these songs are available as “singles” that retail for around $4 or $5).
It seems to me that the spirit of the law regarding musical piracy is not to hurt the artists and record companies that make such music available. I can wholly agree with this principle, but not every instance of “piracy” is of this nature. It’s a bit frustrating when, as recently happened to me, a CD is purchased and cannot be played on your computer without installing a program particular to that disc, all in the name of discouraging piracy. The only decent means I have of listening to a CD in my apartment is via my computer. But I don’t want to have to install programs just to listen (and not even rip)! It’s a shame so many people take advantage of whatever they can. Now the rest of us have to suffer. But I guess this is the way things have always been. It’s the same old song…