Free music sites have been around for over a decade. From 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Napster appeared on the scene in 1999 as the first music-sharing site; music sales have dropped by over 53 percent since its inception. These sites are not the only ways to get music for free. Other places like YouTubemp3.org and dvdvideosoft.com offer ways to turn YouTube videos into mp3 format.
College students always look for ways to save money. The college life can make one less likely to lay down money for music. Many are guilty of downloading music without paying for it.
People often try to justify the urge to download music. Some argue that the artist has enough money. Some say that they wouldn’t buy the song anyway, therfore, it doesn’t matter if they illegally download. Others say they can’t afford to buy music from iTunes or Amazon. These claims are sometimes reasonable, but when you boil it all down, one shouldn’t illegally download music no matter what.
Pirating music is stealing. It may not feel like it, but when people illegally download music, they steal from the artist who produced the song.
“A lot of time, money and investment goes into making music,” said Judi Nation, instructor of Communications, Arts & Media. “[The artist] makes a huge investment up front then you get paid later.”
Being an artist is not like working an hourly job.With the music industry, the artist does not make money until the album sells.
Pirating music is costly to those who get caught. A Boston University graduate was recently fined $675,000 for illegally downloading and sharing music.
Every time you download music illegally, you face the possibility of being charged with a significant fine. Paying $1.29 on iTunes is cheaper than paying $129,000 in fines from the music industry.
Downloading music illegally hurts other people. A study done by the Institute for Policy Innovation revealed that the music industry loses about $12.5 billion dollars and more than 70,000 jobs a year due to piracy.
Fortunately, there is hope for music lovers. Last.fm and Amazon.com have a lengthy list of free and legal music downloads. ccMixter.org offers remixes made by users. Some of these tracks are catchy and since their music is not copyrighted, it’s totally legal to download.
Make a conscious effort to legally obtain music. Even if you don’t get caught, someone is working hard to produce the music, and they likely want to get paid for their work.
“There’s a fine line between ethical and legal,” Nation said.