Culture

Music Piracy

With Napster seeing its last days as any sort of respected online music software and major corporate entities rushing to claim the next; online music continues to flourish through all the constant bickering between artists, the music industry and one balding, talentless drummer. Whether its the continued success of MP3.com or Emusic, fans are finding it much easier to find their favorite music online. Most artists, sans one tired old 80’s metal band, relish in the fact that their fans are able to access their music at the click of a mouse. Its a great way for bands to expand their audience and reach people across the globe. Most of the time its legal and more importantly its free.

What about offline? What about those old fashioned, tape recorder wielding, CD pirating bootleggers? With the added ability of MP3 software, these people have been given the power to expand their trade tenfold. Most recording artists don’t mind their songs being downloaded as mp3s but when people make money from these songs without giving the band their due, thats wrong. No Lars, Napster wasn’t stealing. America has succesfully minimized such rampant music piracy but what about those less developed countries? Not even close. Having lived in Indonesia for a great portion of my life, the steady growth of such piracy is quite disturbing. Its everywhere, on the side streets, backalleys and even in everyone’s favorite shopping malls. It’s like people just don’t care. I know the country has more pressing matters to handle, like its economic instability and the general ignorance of its people, but if these problems ever cease will such issues like piracy be given a second thought? Lofty expectations for a country which a few years ago had some of worst cases of corruption this world has ever seen.

The average price of a CD at Tower or Wal Mart ranges between the $14-$20 price tag, a pirated copy in Indonesia costs about $1. They have no expensive manufacturing or printing costs and only pay small amounts for blank CDs and cheap computer printing. Their distribution costs consist of perhaps giving their street sellers a very very small portion of the take and then they reap in the profit. This is everywhere and in a country with a population of roughly 250 million people, thats a lot. Do these people even understand and grasp basic copyright laws?

I admit, I’m guilty, no, I don’t bootleg, but because on occasion I’ve found myself buying some of these records. When I hear a pop/rock band on commercial radio/MTV or the like, I know for a fact that 9 times out of ten the song I’m listening to is probably the only good one on the CD. Its no excuse but in Indonesia, the Phillipines and other countries where piracy is a common trade; there is no escaping it.

According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry 1 in every 3 records purchased worldwide is an illegal copy. That’s astounding. It is estimated that the total sales of pirated CDs/CD-R copies was at 640 million units in 2000, up from 510 million from a year before. Where do we even begin to fight such a problem? Do you we attack the manufacturers of said CD-Rs? Probably not, the answer still looms. The bottom line is that the global market for pirated music is worth about US$4.2 billion. Not you average Mom and Pop business.

I don’t find purchasing piracted music CDs rewarding on any level. I know for fact that when I download a band’s mp3s and like the product, its more than likely I will hunt down a legal copy of the CD and purchase it. Especially when dealing with independent bands and labels I try to do whatever I can to support them. I’m proud to say that out of the 400-500 CDs I own, only two are cheap pirated copies. Being in Indonesia, that’s not so bad.

Sources:
BBC News
Wired.com

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