An Argument For File Sharing

Essentially music is an idea.  It retains no mass nor is it a physical object yet it is distributed and sold as if it is a tangible object.  With the growth of the Internet illegally acquiring free music has become easier and easier with virtually no risk of getting caught.  Many argue that illegally downloading music isn’t immoral by relying on the excuse like “everyone else does it”.  Slowly and steadily illegal downloading is becoming the norm, which begs the question, is illegally downloading music immoral/ stealing?

Many musicians would argue that they deserve to be paid for the art that they are investing so much of their time and emotions in.  The most famous case of this was the 2000 Napster controversy.  Officials had often overlooked the illegal music-sharing site until it was brought media attention by musicians who were angry about their music being distributed for free.  Among these musicians was Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.  Lars was the sort of a figurehead in the movement to sue napster for each individual song that they had “stolen” from artists around the globe “Napster hijacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission. Our catalog of music simply became available as free downloads on the Napster system.”(Lars Ulrich)  From the point of view of the artist it is very easy to see how illegally downloading music can be viewed as immoral and unfair however the view of some millionaire rock star is probably pretty filtered.

Artists posses a very jaded view of the piracy world.  Because this phenomenon is so new many of these artists are unfamiliar with how common of an occurrence piracy of all types is.  With this so called “evil” also comes good, by creating an infinite library of free music the internet has also created an infinite library of inspiration for upcoming artists.  Many people including myself don’t have an endless stream of money to spend on music yet it is something that a lot of people are very passionate about.  By having this library at our disposal free of charge the new generations of music will be able to progress music even further due to the easy accessibility of the music that they are inspired by.  After all who could complain in a world with infinite shared progressive music of all genres.

It can be argued that when the artists feel like their fans are cheating them they lose some of their motivation to create music.  However should money be the ultimate goal when creating art?  Although file sharing is technically illegal it is the spread of music that got these artists into making music in the first place.  It could be possible that illegal downloading is purifying the music industry by bettering the artist’s intentions when making the music.  After all a price cannot be definitely put on something that is transmitted over sound waves.

In most cases the amount of money being lost to these sites becomes irrelevant in the long run “I challenge record companies to show me evidence of a single penny they’ve lost due to Napster.”(Dave Rowntree Time Magazine).  The golden age of going to the record store to pick up your favorite artists new release is sadly over.  However some studies show that artists most artists actually end up making money from file sharing “ They sell more albums because people have the opportunity to download songs and entire albums for free. A study by Blackburn (2004), a PhD student from Harvard, found that the 75% of the artist actually profit from piracy.”(Wired)  This is because the music world is all about hype.  Artists are able o get their name out a lot faster with the use of file sharing due to the convenience of the file sharing process.  Look at it this way:  If there is an unknown artist that you are looking to check out and an artist that you already know very well you’re more likely to spend your hard earned money on something you really like.  But wit file sharing it is possible for you to also pick up the new artist’s work without even second-guessing yourself.  This in it self eventually leads to the growth of independent artists and will eventually lead to monetary gain.

Even when the music is paid for it is usually done through sites like iTunes where artists still only get a small fraction of the price paid and I don’t know about most people but I am definitely not losing any sleep over skimping some corporate music executive out of one dollar.


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