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There are lots of arguments both ways on this subject. I think it comes down to is it a legal issue or only an ethical issue. I think it would be hard to argue that it is not a legal issue considering the artists own the rights to their music and it is being taken without any compensation.
You might also consider debating whether taping music off the radio is different from downloading free music online. Music on the radio is available at no cost to the listener, but is it intended to be recorded in any way? What role does radio play in music file sharing, if any?
It's not just stealing money from the stores or the music company or even the artist; it's also stealing someone's property. The songwriter and the singer have the right not to have their words and music taken without compensation. This is intellectual property, and taking it without permission should be considered a criminal act--despite the fact that "everyone is doing it."
Some music artists view pirated music as a promotional tool. In other words, their music is getting out there and being heard, even though they are not receiving any money for it. They are basically getting their names out there and in return receiving money from things such as concerts, etc.
That's a great list in the first post. I can't improve on it much, but you might also want to think about the effect pirated music has had on the music industry, in that it is much harder for a band to succeed financially when their property, songs they have created, can be so easily stolen. On the other hand, the web and downloading allows many bands that would never be heard at all to get their music out to the public for a very low cost. Notice there is a free download of the week on iTunes, and it is usually artists that are not household names.
We cannot write essays for you on this site, but here are some issues that you might want to think about:
- Is there any way to argue that file sharing is not stealing? How can you differentiate between taking the music for free off the internet and taking it for free out of a store?
- Can you argue that it's okay as long as you weren't going to buy it anyway? Can you say "I was never going to buy that so downloading it won't actually hurt anyone."
- Is there any way to justify file sharing other than on the grounds that it is nice for the people who do it? In other words, can you think of any reason why it is morally acceptable to do it? I can't, but if you can, you should put that in your paper.
- You might want to form your argument around the issue of why file sharing is so popular. Do you think that there is something about the younger generation that makes them more willing to pirate music? Or is it just that they are the first generation to be able to?
- What about the file sharing sites? Maybe you could write about what the law should say about the sites. Are they breaking the law or are they just providing a service that can be used for good or bad?
- What should happen to people who pirate music?
All of these are issues that you might want to explore.
I think that a good for argument would be that, if you bought it, there should be no reason why you can't download it, and perhaps share it. Putting it on a site for others to illegally download is not a good type of sharing, and you could get into big trouble for it, but people buy songs and put them on websites such as YouTube for others to listen to all the time.
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