Is File Sharing Legal Commerce Essay


Examples of file sharing would include buying a new tape, CD or video and copying it and distributing it to your friends and family. Another example of file sharing would be using one of the many websites such as Lime Wire, Utorrent, Napster , these applications or websites allow you to download on to your computer or your MP3 player music or video for use without paying for it. From the website "Today's music business is no longer just album sales.  That remains fundamental, to be sure, but it's also about cumulative singles downloads, ringtones, entrepreneurial licensing strategies, a compelling concert experience, and various online radio and video plays." (Harold) Because such files are digital, there is virtually no loss of quality from the original recording, meaning that millions of perfect copies can be downloaded from websites without payments being made to copyright holders.

Is file sharing legal? Is it ethically right to use different types of media, music or videos without purchasing it through the proper forms of distribution? it legal to download music for free or copy video tapes you rent that someone else owns? Is this a violation of the copyright laws? Does the action of file sharing alter the sales of CD'S or movie videos? Does this change the incentive for artists to produce or write quality material? As the media has changed and evolved over the years it has become easier and easier to copy music and videos. According to the website they state "The legal risks associated with downloading music from unlicensed websites and services are well established.  What are sometimes overlooked by consumers are the security and privacy risks." (Lamy)

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The people directly affected are the individuals performing the downloading, and the companies that own the websites or applications involved that are encouraging and allowing this action to take place. Additionally directly affected are the artists and owners of the music, videos or software.

The people that are indirectly affected by the illegal file sharing are the production companies. Other people indirectly affected by illegal file sharing are the people involved who assisted with the making of the music or movie or anyone who would receive royalties. Additional people indirectly affected would be the retail outlets that sell and are a part of the legal distribution of the music an d video's.

The considerations the individuals took to download the information was done without thought based on the fact that some were involved in a lawsuit filed by the RIAA.

The good consequences for the people that are performing the downloading are receiving the benefits of the music or video. This is in the form of the enjoyment from watching or listening to the piece without virtually any money out of pocket. Better described as self-fulfillment of the music or video you are receiving while listening or watching the video. Since laws against file-sharing have been almost impossible to fully enforce, and have, if anything, spurred hackers on to be more creative.

The individuals indirectly affected are usually not privy to the act that their work or a result of their efforts has been illegally shared. In the back of their minds they probably know that somewhere in the world their work is being shared illegally. The indirectly affected artist could claim that their music or video is being enjoyed by someone. The other indirectly affected are just adversely affected by loss of sales or loss of jobs.

Negative consequences of those directly affected could be people who downloaded the music or video are they stand the possibility of getting caught by companies like RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Getting caught could result involve the possibility of being sued by companies such as RIAA, as in the example of the lawsuit filed by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) suing 12 year old Brianna LaHara. According to the news article from Fox "We are taking each individual on a case-by-case basis," said RIAA spokeswoman Amy Weiss." (FoxNews). RIAA used information from the website Kazaa, an application and a website designed to download music for a fee. Brianna stated from the same website ( "I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?" (FoxNews)

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Negative consequences for the people indirectly affected would be the loss of royalties and or income paid to the artists themselves, the infringement of the copyright of their material. Other consequences include loss of sales, income, and jobs. According to the website RIAA, "One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes. For copies of the report, please visit". (RIAA)

The good results are only self fulfillment of the recipient and that they did not have to pay for the music or the video they received or they paid only a minimal amount to the website or application they used. Most people who use the services of websites such as LiveWire, Napster, Utorrent, don't pay much attention to the copyright laws. Their interest is in what they can get for as little as possible. Most of these people do not have any consideration for the people that are being indirectly affected.

The bad results are they are cheating the owners and proper recipients from receiving their due royalties. The music and movie industry have a right to protect their intellectual property and moreover have a right to protect their ability to make a living.

A similar analysis that relates to peer to peer infringements is the case in 2005 that involved MGM Studios, Inc vs. Grokster, LTD. MGM Studios sued Grokster for copying motion picture and music files and using the unauthorized files and then making them available to the public. From the website, "MGM contends that Grokster contributes to this infringement by making the file-sharing software available to the public." (Law) Grokster has posted on their website the following: The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal". (Grokster)

After summing up all of the good and bad consequences the act of downloading or copying music, videos, software is morally wrong. The act produces more bad consequences than it does good consequences.

Grokster, LTD was most likely attempting to do as the other sites did such as Napster, Lime Wire that were attempting to capitalize on a growing market of people looking for their favorite music, or video without using the proper methods. Grokster was unfortunately caught.

Other alternatives to actually downloading would be to only allow a sample of the movie, video or software. When you go into a furniture store you are allowed to sit on or at the furniture. When you are seeking out a new vehicle, you are allowed to test drive the vehicle, sit in it and such. Music, videos and software you desire on the internet could be sampled as well. By only allowing only samples of the music, videos and software would encourage the purchase of the product. Purchasing the product would give the proper royalties to the people directly involved in the product.

The other alternative for Grokster, LTD would have been to partner with MGM Studios and offer a fee, with the royalties paid properly to MGM Studios for the use of their material.

Comparing the various actions of whether to download illegally or not to down load although it seems relatively harmless at the time and can be a punishable crime it is not ethically or morally right. Although RIAA has ended their push for suing individuals, their goal was to educate the public about the legal ramifications for using illegal material. Stated from the website "The program was designed to educate fans about the law, the consequences of breaking the law, and raise awareness about all the great legal sites in the music marketplace." (RIAA)