8 Logical Rebuttals of Anti-Piracy ArgumentsBy William Barnes
The fight over music piracy has become increasingly brutal in recent months, with heated debate turning to outright culture-clash. A large segment of the population would readily agree that pirated music is stolen music, because that’s what they’ve read in the newspapers. Arguably, many of these law-abiding citizens don’t own (or often use) a computer, much less a digital copy of a song. Yet they make claims and argue points just as the RIAA’s lawyers do in court, daily. Here are eight rebuttals to such arguments.
It’s Not That Expensive to Just Pay For It
The argument that the cost to pay for all your music, whether it be via online sources such as iTunes or from the local music store is often cited as common sense, but only by those who can afford it. Rarely will you find a person who is living in studio apartment the size of a shoebox extolling the virtues of paying for music, because it’s super affordable. In the climate of recession and even outright global, financial failure, this argument is used less and less, but still used. If the average cost of an album is set at $15, then buying just three such albums a month could mean spending over $500 yearly on music. In more severe cases, that money can make the difference between sleeping in a bed and sleeping on someone’s couch. It is in this writer’s humble opinion that, if you fall into this demographic – you are totally justified in listening to music you did not pay to listen to.
Music Piracy Causes Huge Amounts of Economic Damage
According to the RIAA, not only does music piracy alone cause $12.5 billion in losses every year, but this crime results in 71,060 lost jobs per annum. These figures are amazing, especially considering the failure sof General Motors and Chrysler are estimated to have cost approximately 40,000 jobs; according to these statistics, music industry losses alone due to music piracy is a sum greater than the Gross Domestic Products many of the world’s developing countries. Arguments such as this are hard to swallow when the supposed “data” to back them up is furnished by the plaintiff party.
The RIAA Will Get Better if Piracy Stops
The logic behind this argument is nothing short of naivete. A tyrannical, overly powerful organization with government backing that is concerned only about profits will not suddenly decide to change their business practices if they have no reason to do so. While the RIAA has sued 30,000 people on charges of copyright infringement, countless others are defying the laws that they wield as weapons. If not for piracy, the RIAA would have no discussions of lowering the price of music, and no reason at all to start treating artists better. They would hold all the cards in a world without piracy. In the world we live in, that’s known as a monopoly.
It’s So Much Easier to Use a Pay Service
Any user worth their salt can tell you that nothing short of a typhoon is going to stop them from getting any album in less than 20 minutes. While someone who is completely computer-illiterate may think their only option is to use the streamlined pay-services for their digital music, they’re mistaken. Last year the Times Online reported a study that showed the average teenager in the UK has 800 pirated songs on his or her digital music player of choice. If that’s the average, then the overwhelming odds are that anybody can navigate their way to pirated music quickly and easily.
Pirated Music Is Lower Quality
This is simply a myth. Inexperienced users who don’t know what they’re doing may inadvertently download lower quality data at first. But they may also quickly learn the terminology surrounding digital music and learn from their nascent stage mistakes. The fact is, most digital music available online for legitimate download, while of high enough quality to satisfy listeners, is not the highest bit-rate available. As piracy communities have grown and matured, the quality of data being offered has risen drastically from the ancient history of the 90′s. The music you find on The Pirate Bay may well be of higher quality than that of Rhapsody.Imagine that?
Pirate Music Libraries Are Messy
Going hand-in-hand with the issue of bit-rates, meta-data is often thought to be something only available from stores like iTunes. Again, just as with the quality of data, the completeness of that data has risen as well among piracy communities. In fact, supplying more complete, higher quality data is seen as virtuous and respected greatly. As such, many albums include more complete meta-data, note files with extra information, along with several versions of album covers, and even import versions of songs along with domestic. Open-source mentality reigns in piracy communities, and that means quality or banishment.
You Don’t Support the Bands By Pirating Their Music
This might be true if record labels paid bands all the money from their album sales – but they don’t. Artists make the overwhelming majority of their revenue from live concerts and special engagement tickets, and merchandise sales. Record companies make money off album sales. They effectively buy the artist’s work, and act as though they own the rights to distribute it, but they don’t own the artist or their ability to perform their own music. Music piracy doesn’t pirate concert tickets, that’s the job of the growing ticket-sales racket both on and off-line, which has sparked its own controversies lately as more fans (including pirates) try to support their favorite bands by paying to see them. This argument could even be taken a step further by poising a rhetorical questions: “How many people have gone to pay for tickets at a concert featuring a band that they first discovered due to pirated/redistributed material?”
Piracy is Breaking the Law
So was the Boston Tea Party. So are the protests in Iran. Many things are illegal, that doesn’t make them wrong or even immoral. Using this argument as a blanket explanation why “music pirates” are wrong, will only incense them, and rightfully so. Most people who cite this claim are completely unaware of the RIAA’s very existence, much less its remarkable penchant for evil. People who listen to pirated music don’t feel guilty when they press play, and they certainly don’t lose any sleep over what they’ve done simply because it happens to be illegal. They know that despite the RIAA’s claims that downloading a pirated song is equal to stealing a car (a really nice car, at $80,000 per song) are ridiculous, and they know that their own Internet Service Providers don’t even agree with the claim either.