Saturday, June 8, 2013

Piracy in the Music Industry

Piracy in the Music Industry

Most of us are very familiar with the issue of music piracy. I think it would be safe to say that most of us have downloaded a song or two without proper compensation to the rights holder. This has been the most visible form of piracy that most of us have dealt with.


In 1999 a music sharing service came about known as Napster. Napster allowed users to upload and download any music they wished. This was especially popular on college campuses where student had access to high speed internet. The appeal of Napster is that it was a very user friendly interface, making it easy for anyone with any small amount of computer skill to upload and download music and movies.
Napster was shut down on many college campuses as a result of it tying up network traffic. (

Legal Challenges to Napster

In 2000 the legal challenges against Napster began to flow in. One of the most vocal opponents to Napster was the band Metallica, Dr Dre also joined in suit against Napster. Eventually the Ninth Circuit of Courts, a United States Federal Court, forced Napster to shut down. This was the first case of a record label suing a peer to peer file sharing network.


LimeWire is another major peer to peer file sharing network. As of October 26, 2010 they have been ordered to stop distributing the LimeWire software. They demand that "any person downloading or uploading copyrighted works in any manner cease and desist from doing so" .
LimeWire is a bit torrent client, peer to peer file sharing, that also uses the Gnutella network. Gnutella is  the largest peer to peer network. LimeWire is known for the abundance of computer viruses embedded in the files. This made it much more unpopular among less knowledgeable users.


iTunes has been widely adopted and supported by the RIAA (Recording Industry Artists of America). This service is preferred by the music industry because users are forced to pay for the music they wish to download. These payments are used to pay royalties to the artists. The popularity of iTunes has fueled Apples growth. More people have Apple devices (iPod, iPhone) to mange their music than any other MP3 Player.

Music Piracy Today

Music Piracy does still exist today, but not to the extent that it did 10 years ago. Today, more people are paying for their music than ever before. Most of the music sharing is done outside of the US. You are more likely to find pirated music on the streets of Asia, than here. This is form not only the rise in iTunes, but with more stringent enforcement of copyright violation laws.


Music theft is a real, ongoing and evolving challenge. Both the volume of music acquired illegally without paying for it and the resulting drop in revenues are staggering. Digital sales, while on the rise, are not making up the difference.

Common Examples of Online Copyright Infringement:

You make an MP3 copy of a song because the CD you bought expressly permits you to do so. But then you put your MP3 copy on the Internet, using a file-sharing network, so that millions of other people can download it.
Even if you don’t illegally offer recordings to others, you join a file-sharing network and download unauthorized copies of all the copyrighted music you want for free from the computers of other network members.
In order to gain access to copyrighted music on the computers of other network members, you pay a fee to join a file-sharing network that isn’t authorized to distribute or make copies of copyrighted music. Then you download unauthorized copies of all the music you want.
You transfer copyrighted music using an instant messenging service.
You have a computer with a CD burner, which you use to burn copies of music you have downloaded onto writable CDs for all of your friends.
Somebody you don’t even know e-mails you a copy of a copyrighted song and then you turn around and e-mail copies to all of your friends."

How many of you have illegaly downloaded music? If so, Do you still do it? If not, what made you stop or why have you never done it?


  1. I remember in high school when I would download from LimeWire until I heard someone got caught doing that. With new music systems like Spotify, I can listen to all the music I want without having to feel guilty. However, I still feel music shouldn't cost 99 cents. More like 59 cents because music now a days is HORRIBLE. Albums are only good for 3 to 4 songs and then radio plays those songs over and over until I get annoyed, so Spotify has really helped me not get bored with my musical selection.

    I never really used Napster, but iTunes caused me to spend way too much money because I am definitely into a lot of different genres of music (rap, classical, folk, country, etc).

  2. I agree that the amount they charge to download music on the internet is to much. I use to buy about a CD a month, but now I dont really buy music anymore. I have used Lime Wire in the past to get my music but after using it for about a month I got a virus on my computer and haven't used it since. Now I just listen to Pandora or I Heart Radio.

  3. As I can see from this blog, there is a big difference between piracy in the music industry and how people in the U.S. can download or upload songs, and how people in other countries can do it. Personally, when I was in my country I used to download and upload songs from different websites without knowing if this is legal website or not. For example, in many countries a person will buy some songs from a store, then he/she will upload them to either his/her website or to a website that you prefer to use so that his/her friends and other people can download them for free and enjoy it. However, when I came to the U.S. my friends told me that this is illegal and that I need to be careful when downloading or uploading songs because I am watched and might be caught.

    What do you think of "" is it fine to download or upload from it?

  4. Esmail, 4shred is most likely an MP3 ripping site. It is illegal to rip files into MP3 unless you own digital rights to it. This is a legal grey area, and as a rule of thumb you might want to avoid legal grey areas. With all the streaming software like Spotify and Grooveshark there is little reason to risk possible jail time over some MP3 files.

  5. I used to download music from Limewire constantly. Now that I look back at it, I think it was somewhat of an addiction for me. I enjoyed having whatever music and movies I wanted at my finger tips for free! At one point, I had over 1 week worth of illegal content.

    Unfortunately, my computer was stolen and I took that as a sign to stop. Simultaneously, Limewire had stopped offering the same service. So it became a wake-up call for me that the government was beginning to crack down and punish offenders. Now, I buy music from iTunes with little hesitation. It's legal and guilt-free.

  6. I remember when Napster was really big. I had an older brother who was into using it, so in turn I was using it pretty often, although all we had was dial up connection. I remember it took about 40 minutes per song, Wow. Then came Limewire which was so easy to use, hardly no instructions necessary. However I do remember getting viruses pretty often, after a while I was really suspicious to download any kind of music and now its sorta a thing of the past.