Peer-to-Peer Music Sharing Is Piracy
Although the practice is becoming increasingly commonplace, peer-to-peer music sharing is a serious criminal act that is legally defined as digital piracy (Wolfe and Higgins 33). According to Wolfe and Higgins, "Digital piracy is an emerging computer-related crime in the twenty-first century. Digital piracy is the unauthorized copying of digital goods [including] music for any reason, other than to back-up, without permission from and compensation to the copyright holder" (33). It is reasonable to suggest that the majority of individuals who participate in peer-to-peer music sharing practices are acutely aware of its criminality but continue to do so regardless because they are legion.
While precise figures are not available, current estimates indicate that more than a third (37%) of all music compact disks (CDs) marketed worldwide have been pirated, causing a $4.5 billion loss to the music industry (Wolfe and Higgins 34). Moreover, in 2005 alone, approximately 20 billion individual song tracks were illegally shared without payment to the legitimate copyright holders (Wolfe and...
Consequently, the enormous economic effect of music piracy has been characterized as being "the greatest threat facing the music industry today" (Chiou, Huang, and Lee 161). Indeed, unit shipments of recorded music have fallen by a third to one-half in recent years due to illegal file-sharing practices (Wade 11). While it is conceivable that other factors have contributed to these drastic declines in music sales, it is clear that music piracy accounts for a significant percentage of these lost sales. As Wade points out, "Obviously, many factors can contribute to a downturn in sales, but none have done so as much as online music piracy" (12).
Because digital piracy is regarded as being a violation of copyrights, it is a criminal offense pursuant to The Piracy and Counterfeiting Amendments Act (Wolfe and Higgins 35). In addition, The No Electronic Theft Act makes it a felony to distribute copyrighted materials over the Internet (Wolfe and Higgins 35). Despite its unlawfulness, music piracy continues to proliferate due in large part to the virtual ubiquity of personal computing equipment that facilitates the sharing of digital files online or through physical media such as pen drives. In this regard, Wolfe and Higgins report that, "The Internet facilitates digital piracy because it allows for anonymity, it bridges transnational gaps, it creates the impression of ownership of ideas rather than property, it is relatively easy,…
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