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The Contender
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that music piracy should be legalized

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2009 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 25,042 times Debate No: 7235
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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I would firstly lkke to eductate that music piracy is stealing and thoughtout the centurys stealing has been viewed as wrong and un ethical so why should anything change now?

Music artist put there life into there music. why should we take away there music and there profits.


Well i recently wrote an article for the school newspaper on this topic, so i might as well take this!

Thanks for putting it up, Mitchellr.
And thanks for "eductating" us (haha just teasing).
I'm assuming you meant music piracy to be downloads instead of pirated DVDs and CDs as is common outside the US, since I'm pretty sure most people would agree that is wrong.

I would affirm the resolution that Music piracy should be legalized.

Definition of music piracy: illegal downloads of music through the internet and programs like the former Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, Grokster, etc. This would not include wide-scale PIRACY involving recreating counterfeit CDs and selling them for less.

My reasons for affirming said resolution include:
1. "Work for Hire" contracts are B.S.
2. Record excecutives going on and on about these downloads hurting the industry are the ones really ripping off artists
3. "Piracy"/Downloads actually help the artists.

1. Firstly, "work for hire" contracts and similar legal contracts are ridiculous.
A copyright is essentially a temporary monopoly granted to the creator of a work by the government. It is basically legal fiction saying that a person may own an idea, technique or other things involving "intellectual property".
This is all fine and good, because I believe most of us would agree that a creator deserves credit for his work.
Before 1978, however, copyrights weren't exactly user-friendly. They would only last 52 years, if you remembered and bothered to renew it several times (which wasn't easy). Creators could outlive their copyrights, leaving them without the income from it in their later years. This was like swiping away Gramma Smith's Social Security benefits at age 72 or so. Then in 1978, the laws were changed so that a copyright would last for a certain amount of years after the author's death. This allowed for not only the creator's income but also for his dependents for some time as well.

This was great for authors, artists, and creators, until their publishers/record companies/etc. found a way around it. This was "work for hire" contracts. Work for hire contracts basically made it so if you created something while on the job, it was the legal property of the company. That's not TOO bad, right? But then factor in that artists and musicians don't really work regular hours. Their work is published, they work whenever they want to. That means all their music or work they do during the years involved in their contracts was the publisher's property. The truth is, companies do NOT make music, they do not create art, they do not invent anything. People do. Publishers publish, that is their job. They do not create the work, they send it out to the market. But under these contracts, those songs, pieces of art, books, or other works are the publishing company's property. They pay the artist just enough to keep him on the contract and take the rest. I believe this is wrong. Why should a corporation get the copyright for an artist's work? The artist should get the copyright and be able to license any company he wishes to publish it.
Don't believe me? Look on your latest CD? Chances are it doesn't say "Copyright: Pink Floyd". It's going to say "Copyright: ABC Recording Company".

2. Record executives are the ones doing damage.
So record companies and their executives get the rights to artists' music. They also take the majority of the money! How much does a new album cost? About $15, right? Now how much does a blank CD cost? less than one dollar. And how much does it cost the publishers to manufacture one CD? not very much at all.
Now here's the important part: how much of that $15 pie does the artist get? About 20% generally!
So around 80% of the money goes to the publishing company. Take away the couple dollars it costs to manufacture that CD, and you get a huge profit. Shouldn't money be going to the artist, not the company?
The company performs a service for sure, but the act of publishing doesn't deserve more credit than the actual act of creating the work! The publishers don't deserve all the money they get (also, this isn't the only way they rip off artists).

3. These downloads help artists.
These illegal downloads in fact help artists. Let's take a step back and think about it: listeners download music so that they can have more music than they could otherwise afford. Record executives whine about "lost sales" due to illegal downloads. The reality is they haven't lost sales due to the downloads. The listeners wouldn't be buying the music if it wasn't otherwise available, they would just be going without.
Why don't listeners buy that music? Because, unless they are already familiar with and enjoy that artist's sound, they don't want to spend fifteen bucks on an experiment. They don't want to spend 15 bucks every time they get an album and figure out they don't like So & So's music so much after all. They want to be sure that what they get is quality music that they will enjoy. They want reassurance that they won't buy an album only to figure out that that artist had one good song on the radio, and the rest is crap.
If you think about it, then, these downloads are gaining listeners for an artist. And once consumers are reassured that their money will be well-spent, and that they'll enjoy the product, they are no longer afraid to part with that money. Take a look at musician Janis Ian's article, she raves about what downloads do for her music:

Long story short: except for a few superstars already in the media stratosphere, downloads help all other artists, especially up-and -coming ones.

Downloads essentially equate to word-of-mouth. When you find an artist, you get some songs that you can on Limewire, and give it a test run. If it's good, you'll want more. Chances are you'll be buying the next album, not to mention tickets to the next concert they have in town (I've even bought albums i already had, simply for the actual hard copy, cover art, etc.). Many artists offer free downloads anyway. Some have even handed out their album, allowing the consumer to pay as much as they feel they should. Some pay nothing, others pay half price, others full price, and a few even above regular price! And they just converted apathetic people into listeners and fans!

So what can artists and record companies do? For one, they can lower the price on those CDs. I already showed how much a CD costs to make versus how much it costs to buy. Consumers wouldn't be so afraid to experiment with $5-10 instead of $14-25. If prices went down, consumers would spend.

I await your response, and wish you good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Ok well my definition differs.

Definitionof music piracy : Illegal duplication of sound recordings.

I don't see why this wouldn't involve counterfeit cd's and the like as they are as just as a much of a problem as programs like limewire etc.

So you said in your third point that illegal downloads help artists . You said except for a FEW superstars already established it helped all other artists . Now lets think about this is there only a few established muscians ? I think not there is thousands of well known established artists and your making it out to sound if there is only 2 or 3 . So in fact it hurts those thousands of well known artists. If there was no music piracy then these artists and their producers would be able to claim the profits that are rightfully theirs . With the cd sales being pushed up .

You also said that consumers would experiment alot more if cd prices were lowered . I agree with you but lets see why cds actually cost so much . In the cost of a cd the artists and producers have to raise the price to compensate for all the funds they are losing through music piracy . They do this so they can actually make a profit . Worldwide the music industry loses 5 billion dollars per annum . That is a ridiculous number and it starts to show you the extent music piracy impacts upon the music industry .

Ok so firstly im going to talk about who gets hurt . Then im going to talk about stealing

Ok so who actually gets hurt from music piracy?. Is it just the artists . No its not consumers lose as i said before piracy drives the price of legitimate recordings up . Also artists ,musicians,songwriters, and producers lose . They don't get royalties and fees they have earned . Their reputations also suffer when the fakes are of poor quality.
Retailers and distributors lose . Their prices can't compete with those of illegal vendors which means less business and fewer jobs hurting the economy .
Record companies lose. 85% of all the recordings issued don't even make back their costs . Which leaves the record companies relying ot the other 15% that are succesful to subsidize less profitable types of music. To cover the costs of devoloping the new artists and to keep their business's operational.

Now to my second point . Stealing is stealing. Theres no if or buts about it . Let me give you an example .

Ok so you own a record store and somebody walks in and takes cd's off the shelves and walks out without paying for them . Shoplifting was just commited right ?. And isn't shoplifting a form of thievery . Why would piracy of music be any different simply because its digital ? . Does it somehow make it less personal because you aren't physically there ? . Is wire fraud any less criminal than to robbing a business at night .It shouln't be, for the sole point that there revenue is now in your possesion . Stealing is stealing there is no gray line it is the same as robbing a business .

So now the golden rule . If you were running a business ,you wouldn't want people to steal from you so why hypocritically would you do it to them ?


Okay, are ya ready? Here we go!

My opponent offers this definition of "music piracy":
"Illegal duplication of sound recordings"

Whereas my definition offered in the first round does not include the act of duplicating CDs or DVDs and reselling them.
There are two reasons why I chose to do this:
1. (In my view) It makes for a more balanced resolution for both sides, as I mentioned before that a vast majority of people would agree that reselling the music is wrong.
2. Downloading music is very different (and subject to a less black & white moral scale) than duplicating CDs for the purpose of reselling them, because in the former you only keep it for your own use, whereas in the latter you duplicate CDs to make money off of them. In the latter you essentially steal profits, in the former you simply obtain music.

We'll go straight down the list as my opponent laid out in his second round argument.

He brings up that there are many "well-known established artists". In my first round argument I said that downloads through programs like Limewire, etc. help all but a few superstars. He misconstrued or misunderstood my argument here. I'm well aware of thousands of "established" artists, but there truly are few "superstars". As opposed to thousands of established artists, only a few have been catapulted into the music and media stratosphere so much so that they could be considered superstars. They are not the latest fad, and essentially everyone has not only heard of them but has also heard their music. They don't have much to gain from any form of Word-of-mouth (including downloads), unlike the rest of the music world. These superstars make up a very small percent of the total number of musicians (but probably make the bulk of the profits in the business). There ARE very few artists you could call genuine superstars.

Next my opponent moves on to my point of consumers' reluctance to experiment with music when it is at such high prices. He claims that the reason the price of an album is so high is because music piracy effectively drains the profit from the business. He forgets that, as I mentioned in my opening argument, these downloads help. As I said before, listeners aren't simply downloading whole albums and collections of an artist's music that they would otherwise be purchasing. The reason they download is because they cannot afford to pay for all that music. The purpose of the downloading for them is to get more music than they can actually afford. These aren't lost sales. They would NOT be buying this music if they couldn't download it.
That five billion dollars you said the music industry loses per annum is not because of illegal downloads.
Record executives (and my opponent in turn) have argued that illegal downloading has made serious inroads on sales. How do they prove this? They show that sales have gone down. There couldn't possibly be any other explanation for a downturn in sales, could there?

It couldn't possibly be that record companies have made serious mistakes and bad decisions regarding how to do business. It couldn't possibly be that they made bad decisions regarding what listeners want to hear. It couldn't possibly be that the very demographics they target with their music are the ones most likely to be downloading.

It could be!

Music companies HAVE made lousy decisions about what listeners want to hear. They HAVE been targeting the demographics that are downloading music. They have mismanaged their business, but now they have someone else to blame: illegal downloads.

Now what could record companies do to remedy their situation? Pick some good music, some that's targeted to an older crowd. Let's face it, the older crowd has the money. Kids (the demographic record companies target most) are the most likely to download their music, and the least likely to have the extra money to spend on experimenting with new music. If they started producing music that would be appealing to older demographics, they might see a rise in sales.

Yes, the music industry has lost millions, even billions of dollars. But the blame (at least the largest part of it) does not fall on illegal downloads. It falls on the record executives failing to target the right groups and produce half-decent music.

In my opponent's next point, he points out that piracy hurts consumers as well as artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers. However, the piracy he speaks of is what i pointed out is not in my definition. The piracy he speaks of is the duplication and resale of the music, not the simple downloading.

He points out that an artist's reputation may suffer when fakes are of poor quality. However, digital copies are not fakes, and they suffer such a minute decrease in quality that you can hardly tell the difference.

He also points out that 85% of recordings issued don't make back their costs. I would refer him back to my previous point that says the music industry's losses are the executives' fault. And it's been no secret that about 15% of a record company's artists make the bulk of that company's profits.

His last point is that stealing is stealing, period.

He gives an example of someone shoplifting records from a store, then compares downloading music to this. Then he asks me a "golden rule" question: "If you were running a business ,you wouldn't want people to steal from you so why hypocritically would you do it to them ?"

First off, I'm not running a business. Second, those downloads help the industry, artist, record company and all.
Third, in my opinion, music should not be a business.

"Music is everybody's possession. It is only the publishers who think that people own it."
- John Lennon

Music is not a regular commodity. Music is not food to be bought and sold. Music is art to be shared and spread around. Artists should get credit, of course. They make tons of money from tours, performances, endorsements, and all sorts of deals like that. I'm fine with charging someone for a hard copy of music. I'm fine with charging money to get into a concert. But music should be shared. Music is not a business, it's an art; and the only people who think otherwise are the very people who have made music into a business for themselves. They try to turn a beautiful art form into another sleazy market where the only thing that matters is the money you make.
Artists deserve credit, but i think more than credit, a musician wants his or her music to be heard. Give credit where credit is due, but share the music for God's sake.

I would like to point out my opponent also only touched my third point, he failed to rebut my first two points given in my opening arguments. For those of you too lazy to scroll up the screen and check, those two points were:
1. Work-for-hire contracts are BS
2. Record executives b*tching about lost sales are the ones really hurting the industry and artists.

Debate Round No. 2


mitchellr forfeited this round.

Pro opponent forfeited his final arguments. I urge a vote for Pro's side, because:
Con forfeited the last round.
Con did not touch my first two points:
1. Work-for-hire contracts are BS
2. Record executives b*tching about lost sales are the ones really hurting the industry and artists.

I showed that currently illegal downloads actually help the artist.
That record companies are to blame for losses in sales because:
They rip off the artist
They rip off the consumer
They made bad decisions concerning business management and choosing what music listeners would enjoy.

I again urge a vote for Pro's side, and thank anyone who read this debate, as well as my opponent.

Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by ian.tahmasbi 5 years ago
Good job Chuckles, you deserve more of a crowd than this.
Posted by Chuckles 7 years ago
wow, we pulled quite a crowd.
Posted by saamanthagrl 7 years ago
Awesome debate, period.
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