Free Music: Why Not?
Imagine a world in which you are able to acquire any piece of knowledge or work of art without paying for it; a world where information is freely given, theatrical performances and music are the property of no one and everyone. This world is not much different than what the internet is like today, but all is confined, in a way, to its respective world—the internet world and the real world. A piece of writing printed out on eight and a half by eleven sheets of paper is nothing like a book. By no means does a downloaded divx avi movie even come close to the quality of a DVD, and likewise, the quality of an mp3 converted to CD audio and burned to a disc does not compare with that of a legitimate recording. The RIAA, which represents the major recording companies, would have you believe that the sharing of music online is destroying the music industry (The Internet Debacle), yet there are several artists including Janis Ian, Limp Bizkit, Offspring, and Public Enemy who see it a different way. Indeed, music distributed within the internet community allows people to sample available music in order for them to decide what to purchase in the real world.
First I’d like to look at the legality of downloading copyrighted music. Obviously it is not legal as the courts have shut down Napster for this very reason. Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey believes there is no middle ground in the issue saying that “it is pure and simple theft…” (Costs 31). “If you take something from someone who wishes you not to, you’ve stolen it” (Clay). That’s easy enough, but should the music industry support free music on the internet instead of prohibiting it among its artists?
The RIAA claims that it is acting in the artist’s best interest when it lobbies Congress to help put an end to the downloading of copyrighted music (It’s All about the Music). Singer-songwriter Janis Ian thoroughly disagrees and asserts that “if a music industry executive claims I should agree with their agenda because it will make me more money, I put my hand on my wallet…and check it after they leave just to make sure nothing’s missing” (The Internet Debacle). The contract that is given to an artist in no way looks after his or her best interest but rather the wellbeing of the label. Of the twenty-five or more albums Ian has created with major labels, she has never received a royalty check that did not show that she owed them money (The Internet Debacle).
The normal ...