Music Sharing – an Ethical Look

Whether you have used Napster in the past, Kazzaa, Ares, ShareBear or any of the similar programs you have probably committed a crime. Sharing copywritten music is a crime in this country and is punishable by law. To some, like my opponent, downloading music isn’t a major offense. To some extent, that’s correct; if you simply download a few songs you probably won’t go to jail. I see it as more of an ethical problem.

If by downloading copywritten material are you in fact stealing? Some believe that since you are not obtaining a physical object; since you cannot hold an mp3 file that you haven’t stolen it. But isn’t it awfully close to walking into Sam Goody and sticking a CD under your coat? I think most of us agree that doing that would be stealing, so why isn’t downloading all the songs off an album stealing? Out of all groups that have admitted to sharing music, the highest percentage was that of college students.

A survey showed that over 70% of college students download music at least once a month. Is it because of our empty pockets or is it because of our technological abilities? My guess is that it’s probably a combination of both. There’s no doubt that CDs are expensive, reaching prices as high as 20 dollars for one. The sharing of the music will be excellent with playbeatz headphones. The clarity of the sound will be excellent so that the benefits of sharing music will be superior. The use of the latest technology should be great to offer enormous benefits to the person. The charges will be cheap when compared to the other headphones. 

Cheaper prices can be found, you just need to know where to shop. I believe the reason so many of us download music is because the prices of CDs have gotten so high. The worst part is that only about a dollar of each sale goes towards the artists. Your average band has 5 members, try splitting that dollar 5 ways and you get 20 cents per sale. Perhaps these musicians aren’t as wealthy as we may think.

We have seen such technologies such as iTunes, where a member pays 99 cents to download a song legally. With this service the artists are getting their share of the profit. They are the creators, they are the ones who devote their lives to music, why shouldn’t they get what’s rightfully theirs? Maybe it’s that CD technology is getting outdated. We rarely see people carrying portable CD players, but iPods and other mp3 players.

I am guilty of owning an mp3 player, I think it’s an amazing invention but that doesn’t stop me from buying CDs. Ripping a CD onto your computer and transferring it to your mp3 player is a rather simple process that anyone can do; but downloading it is easier. We must ask ourselves where we stand on this matter. Is it ok to steal from the musicians and enjoy what we didn’t pay for or is it right to support these artists for bringing pleasure to our ears?

If it is true that CD technology is on the way out we must demand more services like iTunes that allow legal downloads. CD sales have been going down for years and if this trend continues how will we get our music? It won’t be by downloading it off Kazzaa because musicians will not be able to afford to record new music, therefore there will be no music. It is difficult to imagine a world without music but it could become a reality if something is not done.

The answer could lie within making legal downloading more widely available. There have been complaints that many songs people are looking for are not available on iTunes or its competitor, yet available on the free, but illegal Kazzaa. The service we pay for must outperform the free service or nobody will use it.

Another solution is lowering CD costs, which would almost certainly have a positive effect on CD sales. Regardless of how it’s done, we must not forget the issue; downloading music for free is not only a crime, but it is unfair to steal from the artist. Most musicians make music their primary source of income. Next time you’re about to download a song, think of what it’d be like if something you worked so hard on was stolen and there was nothing you could do about it.

I believe the Internet is by no means bad for music. It’s actually one of the best ways to get noticed. Almost every band has a website these days, usually with some samples of their music. Many smaller bands who are trying to “hit it big” often have full length mp3’s of their songs. Nothing is wrong with this of course, as the artists are voluntarily posting these files on the web. But it certainly is a problem when songs are downloaded against the artists will.

An often recurring theme is a highly anticipated album scheduled for a release that “leaks” onto the internet. In a matter of hours the joy the artist gets from what should be a special event is tarnished. The hours of work that was spent to record, the cost of that time in a studio, the general appreciation we get when we listen to music should be taken into consideration when we look at the price tag on a CD. It is by no means cheap to record and produce CDs. But still, we all know the record companies make tremendous profits off of musicians.

The reason for this is because nobody plays music to make money, it’s done for the love of it. While recording an album may pay the bills, there’s something much more powerful that drives musicians. What gives any of us the right to enjoy their creations for free? It doesn’t matter if you buy the CD, a song on iTunes or even a T-shirt at a concert, they need all the support they can get. If you’re not sure if you want to buy a new bands CD, instead of downloading it why not go to and listen to a free sample.

You’ll also find CDs cheaper there than you would at most places, and they also deliver it to your door, what could be better than that? If the 13 dollars is too much for you, look for used CDs on Amazon Marketplace, or eBay. As I’ve stated, the top downloaders of music are college students, and while I certainly can’t change that my hope is that we can meet a resolution that satisfies everyone.

To some of us, music is a big part of life, to others, it means everything. In the words of Jerry Garcia :”We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it.”