Should downloading music (piracy) be legal?

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Your question implies the answer.  You define it as piracy, not file sharing.  There is a difference between taking something and sharing it with others and selling it to others.  By definition, copying and selling is piracy.  If I share a copy of a file with another person, that is...

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Your question implies the answer.  You define it as piracy, not file sharing.  There is a difference between taking something and sharing it with others and selling it to others.  By definition, copying and selling is piracy.  If I share a copy of a file with another person, that is one thing.  Selling it to that person is another thing, and that is illegal.

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Absolutely not. Downloading shared files should not be legal. It's a violation of copyright laws, and it infringes on the artists ability to make a living. The problem is that the increasing improvements to existing and the invention of new technologies, makes it more and more difficult to ensure that artists get a fair deal.

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I think that the illegal downloading of music should be considered illegal. The artists that have written and perform the music have the rights to those songs and need to be compensated for their work. However, is downloading music in today's world of technology any different than years ago when we all had shared music and recorded music on cassette tapes.

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I think enough smaller artists are giving away their music in the form of free downloads for exposure.  Legal "piracy" almost sounds like an oxymoron.  As with any other consumer-driven business, you have to assume that when funds are taken from one place, they will be made up for in another.  If piracy became legal (and really took off to the point of dramatically reducing album sales) there would be financial consequences for the consumer somewhere else.  Maybe concert ticket prices would go even higher (hard to imagine for some artists).  Perhaps T-Shirts and posters would become unaffordable.  Make no mistake, the revenue in total would be made up for in other ways.

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If we're just talking about music, I think you can argue that piracy should be legal.  I think that it mostly hurts the big record companies and big recording artists.  In contrast, it can actually help smaller artists get exposure.

For example, I no longer live in Hawaii and so I am not able to easily keep up on new Hawaiian music.  Back in the days of Napster, though, it was easy.  I could look for people who had someone I knew (say Israel Kamakawiwoole) and then see what other Hawaiian performers they were sharing.  I could listen to those, see if I liked them, and then buy the music if I thought it was good.  I now have CDs, for example, by the Hoopii Brothers and by Amy Gilliam that I found out about in this way.

So "piracy" gives people a chance to sample and be exposed to music they would not otherwise be aware of.  This can help smaller artists who are not famous enough for everyone to be aware of them.

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I'll assume you mean using filesharing programs to get music for free, since downloading songs from sites like iTunes or Amazon is already quite legal and very profitable.

In my opinion, no it should not be.  These songs belong to someone, just as a book someone has written or a painting someone has made.  It is intellectual property.  Where music is concerned, in order for people to continue to be able to create music (or literature, or art) they have to be able to make a living at it.  Sharing movies or music takes money straight from these artists.

It's convenient, sure, and there is a great temptation to get music or movies for free, but that doesn't mean it should be legal, or that it doesn't hurt anyone.  It does.

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