Illegal downloading Feature.

Liam McGrady 02/12/2004

In March this year the BPI (the music industry's governing body) sent e-mails to 350,000 people who had illegally downloaded tracks from the Internet. Twenty-eight of these people, who are said to have downloaded thousands of songs, are now being sued by the BPI. It has been announced that these twenty-eight people will be publicly identified; named and shamed if you will. So in light of these recent developments in the music industry's battle against music thieves, let's talk about illegal downloading.

There is now a massive amount of people downloading music from the Internet. Some legally from authorised sites, most illegally from unauthorised sites. The term used for this illegal downloading is “file sharing”. Basically what happens is one person buys a record and puts it up on the Internet for others to download. It has been claimed that this is only the same as taping from the radio but you know, it's not really is it? How can a few people, taping a few songs from the top 40 show be compared to someone downloading 20 full albums for free? It can't.

So why do people believe that downloading for free is okay? The most common complaint is that albums are too expensive and the record company is making too large a profit. Most chart albums seem to be priced at 9.99 these days with singles ranging from 2-5, so generally you're paying about a pound per song. Now to me, this is not a huge amount to pay, but I can see that in some people's eyes it is. What happens though if an album is priced at 5, so the record company only makes half as much profit? Well, seeing that they only have half the money they used to have, the record company only signs half as many new bands/acts. The bands/acts they sign are ones they are sure of selling a lot of records with, e.g., boy bands and teen chart fodder. Is that what people want?

Imagine if the tables were turned. You go out and do a week's hard work, only for your boss to turn round and say, “cheers for that, we're not paying you though.” I think it's safe to say most people would be pretty hacked off.

There is an argument that bands have plenty of other ways to make money, through playing gigs and selling merchandise and, yes, they do. But still, if you've spent the best part of a year making a product with the intention of selling it, you're going to feel hard done by if someone just comes along and takes it.

So, if you want the music industry to be flooded with boy bands and teen acts, carry on illegally downloading.

If you want you new favourite band to be hanging around the dole office within a year, wasting their talent, carry on illegally downloading. But if you want the music industry to be chock full of bright, new, exciting bands, and for that new band to carry on making great records for 10 years or more, maybe you should have a little think before illegally downloading.