No one is stealing music through file sharing. That can’t be done. Theft implies the removal of property. When something is copied, the owner still retains the original. Their property is still intact. All that has occured is the devaluation of the original copy. Should devaluing something necessarily be against the law, or morally wrong? No, of course not. This sort of thing occurs all around us. If devaluing things were illegal, a boycott would be illegal. Advertising for a competing brand would be illegal. So, saying music sharing is theft is preposterous.
The purpose of copyright law was not to make artists rich. The purpose was to make culture rich with art. When works of an artist could be produced and sold without paying the artists, incentive to publish new works was diminished. Why publish a new book when you can release anyone’s book without paying royalties and you know other works will sell? There is a lot less risk this way, and the distribution of new works would not be encouraged. Plus, people were profiting off of the artist’s work while the artist remained poor. Copyright laws should be in place to give artists/copyright owners(which strangely are rarely the artists, anymore) the exclusive right to profit from their works. But, they are not in place to prevent people from enjoying the work. Copyright laws do not control market trends or circumstances, but they prevent people from wrongfully profiting off of an artist’s work.
Music sharing helps art flourish. It increases awareness of art and music, while also creating a more level playing field for lesser known artists. The current infrastructure encourages superstars rather than encouraging innovation, which is culturally harmful, IMO. People are now learning about new bands and artists more frequently than before. They are buying CDs they would not have purchased and going to shows they would not have gone to if they didn’t have access to music sharing. I think this is a positive thing.
Money can still be made, but it will require investors to reassess their marketing strategies. Many businesses have to reassess their marketing strategies due to uncontrollable trends on a regular basis. An auto repair shop will order less airconditioners in the winter, for example. Change occurs and is unavoidable. In the case of music being more accessible, I think the change is positive. I can live without rockstars.
Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash