Illegal Music Downloading

Area of impact:

Arts, Leisure & Entertainment

Presenting the issue:

File-sharing is the practice of making files available for other users to download over the internet and smaller networks. The issue raised in the article is that people today are illegally downloading music from these file-sharing networks. Illegal networks are now being used three times as many as legal ones. People are essentially using technology to get hold of music without paying for it, and because of this, the music industry could be facing a crisis.

IT background:

1) The enabling factors that have allowed for this issue to happen are the increase and ease to download and use file-sharing softwares, by using web browsers.

2) In file-sharing, people would store files that they wanted to share (in this case it would be MP3 music files) on their hard disks, and they shared them directly with other people.

Users would have to download software onto their machine, and the machine would become a small server able to make files available to other users. The machine is also connected to the file-sharing network. It would tell the servers which files are available on your machine and therefore it would have a complete list of every shared song available on every hard disk connected to the network.

If you wanted to download a song, all you would have to do is type it into the search box and the server would list all the machines storing that song. You would choose to download one of them, and since your machine is connected to the other user’s machine that had the song, the song would directly be downloaded from that machine.

3) A research suggests that only 5% of all internet consumers pay to download music while 15% share music without paying. In the 15-24 age group, 34% admits to sharing music without paying.

The impact of the issue:

Stakeholders: record label / music industry, artists, file-sharers, listeners

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has managed to take illegal file-sharers (the people who put up songs for others to download) to court, fining them for as much as £4,500 each. The payments will go back to music copyright holders. The global campaign has also led to a 45% decline in activity on the most popular file-sharing network, Fast Track. Since then, legal alternatives such as Apple’s iTunes have become popular.

Because people are now being fined for sharing files, there has been a decline in activity for illegal file-sharing networks. As a result of this, more people are buying music legally.

Because of online file-sharing and piracy, CD sales have fallen sharply. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), there was a drop of 7% in CD shipments. However file-sharing sites have argued that the downloading of music could help increase sales, because of the ‘buzz’ it may have created. But a survey found that only 10% of those questioned would go out to buy the album instead of downloading it illegally.

As more people are downloading music, fewer CDs are being bought. Therefore less CD’s are being shipped to stores. Although downloading music could help with CD sales, the majority of people still download music illegally.