These days, people can use the Internet to do almost anything they want — order books and school supplies, check bank balances or watch videos on YouTube. They can also download music, but not everyone does so legally.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sent approximately 250 letters to Rider regarding students and their practice of illegally uploading music. What’s the difference between uploading and downloading? To download means to save a file to your computer, while to upload means putting a file online for others to take.
The RIAA has every right to crack down on those who are enabling the illegal use of copyrighted material by uploading. While it may not necessarily be right to have music without paying for it, many people download songs just to listen to them. It’s the people who illegally upload the music that are clearly in the wrong.
Many artists have indicated they don’t care if you buy their music. CD sales matter most to groups that package the product — recording companies, distributors and the production team behind the music. It matters more to artists if you go to a concert. Sales from performances are where musicians make the most money — tickets, merchandise, meet and greet sessions. It all turns a profit. A CD that costs around $12, if downloaded, doesn’t bring in as much cash to the artist as it may seem.
Many up-and-coming bands feature free downloads on their websites, just so that people can sample the music and, in turn, become fans of the group. In the case of big-name bands such as Coldplay and Radiohead, it’s clear they don’t care about record sales. In 2007, Radiohead released their seventh CD called In Rainbows. When it first came out, it was on the group’s website, and fans were permitted to pay the price they saw fit. If a fan wanted to pay nothing, that was allowed. In 2009, Coldplay announced that at every show on their upcoming tour, fans would be given a copy of a live CD, and that music would also be made available online as a free download. For some bands, it’s more about getting their name and music out there than it is about selling CDs.
It is considered stealing to take music without permission, but what about file sharing among friends? It’s not uncommon for one person to buy a CD or download it from a site such as iTunes or Amazon, and then loan out that music to his or her friends. That is actually illegal as well, but difficult to enforce. Everyone does it with books or movies. If someone sees a good movie, they can let their friend borrow the DVD. So, where is the line between sharing and stealing? The industry is still getting money for a sale, and people can save money on music they might not listen to much anyway.
As far as illegal music goes, it’s harder to trace students that are only downloading music. If there are students uploading music to a website for others to download, for free or for a price, that will be easier to track. While it is still illegal to download any music without paying for it, it doesn’t look like students will be stopping that anytime soon. The students that only download shouldn’t be penalized. It’s the ones who intentionally upload the music to make money who should be changing their behavior.
This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.