Opinion: Though cheap, piracy hurts artists

Albert Fisler is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Albert Fisler

In this day and age, millions of people have access to massive amounts of media. From music and video games to movies and TV shows, all of these can easily be accessed and downloaded from the Internet. However, if a person gains access to any types of these media without purchasing it, it is defined as piracy. Just recently, according to BBC News, a Dutch court just reversed the decision to deny access to The Pirate Bay, one of the most notorious pirating websites. The decision to restrict access to the website through Internet service providers was only reversed simply because it had “proved ineffective at reducing copyright infringement.” 

As technology moves forward, making our lives more convenient, it keeps us connected with the entertainment we enjoy — but the industry that holds the most discrepancy is music.  

Just about everyone listens to music. Simply walking around campus, it’s no surprise to see that nearly everyone has headphones on. I am guilty of doing this myself — I would rather listen to my own music to fit my current mood than awkwardly avoid eye contact with each person I walk past. People listening to different genres of music en masse is indicative of the music industry’s diversity and the incentive to create a pool of music from which so many listeners pirate.

iTunes, one of the biggest distributors of music, sells songs ranging from 69¢ to the most expensive, $149.99 for The Beatles box set. Using myself as an example, I have 2,724 songs in my iTunes library. Adding this to the lowest cost for songs on iTunes of 69¢, my playlist totals $1,879.56. That’s a lot of money just to walk around listening to my favorite songs.  

However, famous artists and producers are not in the least bit content with this loss of money. One study by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates that the total piracy loss to the sound recording industries from global piracy is about $5.333 billion. However, this money isn’t a loss for the music industry due to pirating; rather, it is money that the music industry simply couldn’t collect because of piracy. As Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and other famous artists tour the world and party in Hollywood, one can only wonder how much money they are truly losing as a result of people enjoying their music.  

As a consumer, I can easily understand why people would much rather download something for free than spend even as little as a dollar for a song, which quickly adds up. However, artists do need to make money from their work, which is the reason they chose to pursue their passion as a career rather than a hobby.  

Nevertheless, I would like to see art made for the sake of art and not a paycheck. If money changes the way an artist creates their work, then the artist might be doing it for the wrong reasons. As one of my favorite rappers, Shad, says, “They don’t buy it, I say don’t buy it — pirate me. If it’s ill, it’ll spread virally from my received folders to appearin’ in the love that the crowd shows; if it sound dope keep it on the download.” 

Contact Albert Fisler at [email protected]