Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Music Piracy

I think by now, each person has their own stance on music piracy (whether for or against it) and the stances/methods taken to promote their agenda. This blog entry isn't going to tackle that arena.

Rather, I'd like to show how music piracy occupies a unique niche different from all other pirated products out there. Pirated digital media is easily one of the mos prolific forms of piracy. There's basically little overhead and one doesn't spend for physical resources (as is the case for material pirated products). It's literally as simple as copy-and-paste. File sharing programs (in the loosest sense of the term) doesn't help either. I can easily send pirated media files over email, via private messenger, in chat rooms, etc.

When it comes to pirated digital media, I think there are currently four mediums which are prominent: videos, ebooks, photos, and music. The first two, in my opinion, are somewhat limited. The problem with ebooks is that they haven't really caught on. Honestly, I have a couple of pirated ebooks at home but there's only two or three that I've read--and I've bought the actual books. Video is yes, being circulated around the Internet. I think the limitation when it comes to video is that you can only watch it so many times. I mean say I have this favorite 30-minute episode (in reality just barely twenty minutes when you cut out the commercials and the credits). As much as I'm a fan of whatever show, I won't be watching that show every single day. Perhaps the most avid fan will watch it once a month, or watch it six times in one month and never watch it again. Now compare that to music. People have their favorite songs and it's probably only around 5 minutes long (we sometimes won't even finish the entire song and listen to it only halfway). But it's easy to imagine that a person, in this age with digital media players and mobile phones, to listen to that song every single day (and sometimes play it more than once).

I'm not a fan of music but I can't deny the impact music has in the world. If it didn't come into the world, somebody would have invented it anyway. And in a certain sense, music predates the written word (and perhaps I dare say without music, the written word wouldn't have come about in the first place). When I look at livejournal, I don't see tags that ask what movie I'm watching now or what book I'm reading, I see music (of course part of it is the fact that it's hard to multi-task when you're reading or watching something). And there's probably a good chance that the music that livejournal detected was an illegally downloaded mp3 (although I don't mean to claim that everyone out there supports pirated music).

The only thing that comes close (and perhaps surpasses) pirated music is pirated pictures. Of course while there is vocal outrage at pirated artwork (in whatever form they may be), it isn't as loud as the three other prevalent pirated media. You can put on your capitalist cap to ponder the reasons why.

Music has had a huge impact in the world. It's not surprising that pirated music is similarly making a big splash in this information age. (Whether that's good or bad, I leave it up to you.) I do think music occupies one of the top seats in the hierarchy of pirated material and it's no coincidence it developed that way. Videos may make me rich but the real money is in the music.

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