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Is Piracy Still An Issue?

Rachel Bell, Messenger Reporter

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Since the late 1990s, piracy has existed on the internet. People have illegally downloaded files since files have been available. Yes, it’s illegal, but it happens so often that the laws about internet piracy have become very lax, and people are very rarely prosecuted for it. So this raises the question: is piracy still a problem?

 

In short, yes. According to the New York Times, the U.S. economy loses $58 billion every year because of piracy. Music is a huge industry that has only grown in the last few decades, and whether we think of it or not, it really does help our economy. Piracy is robbing our economy of a large sum of money that could fund medical care, education, agriculture, and many other important areas that we need.

 

People like free stuff. That’s human nature. But there are ways to get free music without breaking the law. Apps like Spotify and Pandora are 100% legal and free, granted you don’t get the paid premiums that those apps offer. Still, these premiums are relatively cheap if one chooses to get them. Most of them offer student discounts as well. Spotify, the fastest-growing way to listen to music, has agreements with the rights holders of the music on the app, and they pay these rights holders. That’s why in 2014 when Taylor Swift wanted her music off Spotify, they legally had to obey.

 

Piracy has had a long history. Websites like Napster and Limewire have been around since the internet became a household commodity. In 2000, heavy metal band Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement and won. Napster’s approximately 80 million users fled in terror to the next file-sharing website in fear of getting caught and prosecuted. That cycle lasted for years: one website would get popular, then fizzle out as a newer and better one just like it came about.

 

In the music industry itself, there are mixed feelings about internet piracy. Some musicians see it as money lost; others see it as free publicity. Taylor Swift is one of the biggest anti-piracy musicians in the industry. John Legend is quoted as saying, “The whole music business has suffered because of piracy.” Conversely, there have been cases of musicians illegally downloading their own recently-released albums, claiming they haven’t heard the finished product yet. When Panic! at the Disco’s lead singer Brendon Urie was tweeted by a fan about being six cents short to buy the band’s new song, Urie replied, “Rip it from YouTube.” Some artists don’t have a problem with it.

 

Just about everyone has illegally downloaded something at least once in their life. Does that make it okay? No. There are plenty legal means of listening to music that are free or very cheap, that won’t give you viruses on your computer. Piracy is a crime, plain and simple, and it can ruin your future in the event you get caught. It’s not worth the risk.

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