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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Really? We’re still dealing with the whole music piracy issue?

Published: February 4, 2011
Section: Opinions

GRAPHIC BY Ariel Wittenberg/ The Hoot

Last Friday the Brandeis Student community collectively received an e-mail from LTS and the Dean of Student Rights and Community Standards regarding an unusually high level of copyright infringement notices last semester. Apparently, we as a community are increasingly turning to illegal options for satisfying our musical appetites.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a college campus would—it seems—have an expected level of notices. My personal stance on music piracy has always been somewhat more conservative than my peers. I think it’s fine to download music offered for free, such as DJ Earlobe’s mixes, when offered for free on a musician’s personal website.

When it comes to outright pirating music, games and movies though, I just do not see the point.

It may seem overly simplistic to say pirating media is wrong. I suppose I could concede that when something is not available through standard options for purchase, it makes some sense in certain—specific—scenarios. Years ago, a friend of mine downloaded an old video game that had been released in Japan but never in the United States. Her rationale was that she would send money to the developer or publisher but that would likely lead to legal trouble and, should the game ever be released in the United States, she wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a legitimate version of the game.

One other circumstance I suppose I could understand is when someone wants one song, but iTunes and other distribution systems only offer the song as part of a larger album. In that case, I suppose I could see a sort of “why should I have to buy the whole album?” rationale when many songs are available alone for purchase. In these cases, it seems almost wrong that the one song someone wants is tied to a full album purchase. That being said, it still doesn’t give someone the right to turn around and take stuff without paying.

Unfortunately though, most people who download are doing so illegally. I seriously cannot see any legitimate reason to download a movie, video game or song when it is legally available for purchase. Let’s look at a simple breakdown of who loses out when something is downloaded illegally.

For simplicity’s sake, I will use the example of iTunes. Songs have an average price of 99 cents and those 99 cents break down into a portion for Apple, a portion for the publisher, a portion for the producers and a portion for the performer.

While it may seem like very little is lost when someone downloads a song, when you add up the many individual downloads and factor in for sharing between friends, it adds up quickly.

It is even more apparent with movies and video games. Millions of dollars in investments go into the development of games and movies.

Additionally millions go into the publishing of the media. It’s not like retail stores jack up the prices on movies and video games to make more profits. Both video games and movies are notorious in retail for the low profit margins. With the many cheap and legal options that allow access to games and movies, such as Gamefly and Netflix, there is no legitimate reason why this type of intellectual property theft has to occur.