Downloading music without permission is an example of theft and is immoral
Is downloading music without permission from the internet wrong?
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Theft is taking something from someone who is the rightful owner without their permission. It doesn...
Theft is taking something from someone who is the rightful owner without their permission. It doesn’t matter if the rightful owner keeps an original version or not. If you are downloading music from an unofficial source, you are stealing it: you can start listening to that song, without the permission of the original owner. The only way you can get the right to listen to that song is via a legal transaction from which the rights owner can make a profit.
Theft always involves a thief taking something away for themselves with the result that the original owner can’t use it anymore. For example, if I steal your bike, you can’t use it anymore. And this is exactly why theft is wrong: you had something which you wanted to use, and now you can’t anymore, simply because I took it. \
That’s why downloading music is not theft because it is a form of copying. You download a copy from an original, but the first owner still has the original on his or her computer, and can still enjoy it. In more complicated terms: music files are “non-rival” goods, meaning that my use of the good does not diminish your future use of it.
Because the artist made the song, it is their property, in this case “intellectual property”. Prope...
Because the artist made the song, it is their property, in this case “intellectual property”. Property means that the owner/artist has the right to ask something from you in exchange for you gaining access to the music. This may be money. It may also be the requirement that you clearly recognize the artist’s moral right to always be mentioned as the creator of that song. This is called the “free exchange of value”, and this is the most fundamental relationship in our free market economy.\
Whatever the artist chooses as payment through a legal transaction, it is his/her basic right to ask this of you. The only way to make sure that he/she can actually exercise that right is by making sure you only take music from the artist through a legal transaction, i.e. with their permission. Only then can we be sure that the desired free exchange of value has taken place. \
Realistically speaking, music is not even property - for property to really be property, it needs to be tangible (something physical you can touch). If it is tangible, it is easier to keep you from using it, whereas when it is intangible, I can’t. What if you hear a song on the radio which stays in your head all day long because you liked it so much? In economic terms, we call such a good “non-excludable”. \
Private property is both a rival good (see above), and excludable. The above shows that music is neither, even though we happen to call it “intellectual property”. That means that music can’t be private property, and copying it can’t really be theft in any normal sense of the word (see above)\
In addition, the moral right of the artist to be known as the author of a piece of music is also not broken by downloading. People usually sort the music on mp3-players by musician’s name, which means that we’re always recognizing that a certain artist made a certain song. \
Apart from the moral reason, there is also a simple societal reason why it is wrong to download musi...
Apart from the moral reason, there is also a simple societal reason why it is wrong to download music without permission. The reason is that musicians have to eat, too. Suppose you are an up-and-coming young musician thinking about what to do with your future. You can either become a full time musician or take up a job. If you become a fulltime musician, you’ll be doing what you love. But at the same time, everyone will be downloading all your music for free, simply because they can. This means that music won’t be a good, stable source of income for you, and this means you’d rather take up a job. Since you’re not working on your music every day, your talent will be underdeveloped, and the little pieces of music you do write, for example in the weekend, are not as good as they could have been. So, downloading music without permission will lead to fewer good musicians. That’s not only bad for the musicians, but also for us: we’ll have less good music to listen to.
It’s true that musicians have to eat, too, but it’s not true that downloading cuts their income. Most of the money spent on music goes to record companies, not to artists. Those record companies have been keeping musicians on a leash for decades, paying them less than they could. They paid them enough to make sure they would remain fulltime musicians, but not so much that they didn’t bother to create new albums. So if downloading music files means record companies miss out on some income, we shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Downloading does not fall under the so-called “private copy exception”. The private copy exception ...
Downloading does not fall under the so-called “private copy exception”. The private copy exception only covered those rare cases when you took the effort to make a copy from a lawful source (perhaps putting a song you owned on CD on to a cassette so you could listen to it in your car). With the internet, the situation changed hugely. Firstly, copying became a lot easier. Secondly, the home copy-exception applies to when you borrow an album from a friend - someone you know. Online, you’re downloading from anyone, anywhere who happens to have the song you want. Thirdly, when you start downloading using peer-to-peer software, you will usually also start uploading at the same time. It’s the nature of p2p-technology that you both distribute and consume. So, you’re not just making a copy for yourself, you will also be distributing the same song, and that distribution is in any case wrong. These changes together mean that the three step-test is not met, so downloading does not fall under the private copy exception and is therefore illegal.
Downloading music without permission is allowed under the “private copy exception”. Practically, the exception meant that you were allowed to copy, but not distribute any music. Downloading music from a torrentsite or newsgroup is essentially the same. People who download music do it purely for their own enjoyment and use. They have no intention to resell the songs and make a profit from it. So, if it was legal to make a copy for personal use before the internet was invented, why then should it suddenly be different afterwards? And when it comes to peer-to-peer software, you can turn off the option to upload automatically. This allows you to only download, but at a slower speed.
The home-copy exception was only put into law on the condition that there would be a charge, or levy...
The home-copy exception was only put into law on the condition that there would be a charge, or levy, on the devices used for copying (see condition 3 of the three-step test). This levy in turn would be used to compensate artists for the income they missed because someone copied, instead of bought, their album. There is no such levy on the internet or on our computers, which means there is no fair compensation available. Since there is no fair compensation available, it is wrong to allow downloading from illegal sources. \
This also explains why record companies use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to limit copying of audio files. Since there is no levy on every player or carrier, they have to make sure their material does not get unto those platforms. Hence the protection: it might seem unfair but it’s the next best thing after the lack of fair compensation.\
Even if downloading would lead to less income for musicians, it’s important to realize that most musicians are not in it for the money. They are artists: creative people who do it for the love of their art. They create music because they want other people to listen to it and enjoy it. This means they will keep making music, even when there is little money to be made from it. Even better, with the internet every talented musician now has the means to spread their music all across the world without having to wait for a record deal!
Record companies have been blamed for unfair practices, like DRM, “milking” artists (see opposition ...
Record companies have been blamed for unfair practices, like DRM, “milking” artists (see opposition argument 3), or suing individual downloaders for unfair damages. But record companies also have a very positive role to play: they scout every day for new talent, and offer training and production studios for up-and-coming musicians. Moreover, they provide valuable marketing services, making sure that new artists get heard instead of drowning in the vast sea of information that is the internet. Consider this, how don you even know which song to download? A large part of that is because record companies get the music out there, on to radio stations, all over MySpace, on MTV, so that you get to hear it for the first time. Those are things a musician is not trained to do and very often does not want to do, which is why it is good to have record companies.
Even if downloading is illegal, it still is right from a moral viewpoint. The reason is that by downloading, you’re not hurting the artists, but the record companies. And these record companies have engaged in unfair practices towards consumers for decades. They asked €20 euros for a CD, when a blank CD only costs about 5 cents. They still engage in unfair practices, for example via DRM. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and it means that companies limit how and when you can listen to a song. For example, you can buy a song and listen to it on your MP-3 player, but if you want to play it on your laptop, you have to buy the same song again. Moreover, record companies have sued individual consumers for huge fines for downloading just a few songs. Most recently one ordinary woman was fined $1.92 million dollars, which just doesn’t add up to the “damage” these individuals are supposed to have done. That’s unfair, and because it’s unfair, we are justified in download without permission.
It is a mistake to think that when you’re downloading, there isn’t someone else making a huge profit...
It is a mistake to think that when you’re downloading, there isn’t someone else making a huge profit. Torrentsites and other “pirate” sites gain huge amounts of income from the advertisements on their site. This means that they profit from material which is not theirs. Why should they profit from material they have gotten unfairly and without permission?
Actually, downloading songs could mean more income for musicians. Concerts (plus merchandise like T-shirts) are becoming a bigger source of income. But suppose a new musician comes to town. How am I supposed to know if I want to go to their concert if I don’t know their music? Previously, I wouldn’t have gone since I didn’t want to spend money on first buying their album and then buying the ticket. Now, I can quickly check out their music by downloading some songs to see if I like it, and then go to their concert. I save money on the albums, and will go more to concerts.
What do you think?