Torrents Hurt Artists

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a DVD, and you certainly wouldn’t steal a song… or would you? Every day we are bombarded by subtle (and not so subtle) messages about video and music pirating. Who, in this age of omnipotent media hasn’t seen a story about quarter million dollar recording company lawsuits? Or about the commercials placed in the previews before movies which call for blood every time another media-sharing website pops up? It’s scare tactics like these that influence us every day without truly giving us the facts, or imbuing us with a rightful knowledge of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, the facts still stand: illegal media downloading and torrenting (a common way of distributing files) hurt artists. Actors, directors, bands, solo artists, authors, programmers, and investors are all financially devastated by websites like The Piratebay and Mediafire. If everyone with a good modem and a mouse can see a movie for 700 megabytes of computer space and an hour of time, who would pay $7.50 to go see it in theaters? If you can download Photoshop off the Internet for free, then why go to the store and buy it? Software piracy accounts for a $34 million loss each year. The Institute for Policy Innovation estimates the harm of music pirating at $14.5 billion annually, as well as 70,000 jobs lost. Personally, I get it. Companies like Adobe and Microsoft charge outrageous amounts for programs, making them out of the price range for me and a lot of other high-schoolers. And with the current laws and download restrictions (mostly instituted in music players and organizers like iTunes) I have had to purchase songs multiple times simply because of certain DRMs (Digital Rights Management), so I have felt wronged in a lot of ways and certainly feel a good amount of disdain for recording labels and software companies. Whatever your gripes are with these laws, however, by torrenting that new album by your favorite band you are taking money away from that band, which in turn discourages them from making more music. I know that I, as an avid music fan, want to support all my favorite artists, even if it means going and finding a place in Ames that sells quality CD’s (good luck), downloading the mp3 file or ordering it off Amazon. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you, the student body, that I haven’t illegally downloaded music in the past (although I am not saying I do, either), but I have made it my goal to eventually purchase every album that I have in my library. I want the bands I enjoy to be able to make money and possibly release another album in the future. I suspect that many don’t have similar qualms, and a lot of artists have publicly stated that they are fine with torrenting because it circulates their music to people who would otherwise never hear it. Of course, bands can always make money from concerts, tours, and appearances — even movies make money in theaters and from merchandising — but what about the designers of software and games? Where are they supposed to get their revenue? Thousands of hours of hard work and millions of dollars go into every game, and it’s not all done just so that the designers can sit back and watch their hard work get siphoned away at the hands of every person with a computer and an Internet connection. I am not trying to drill an anti-torrenting message into your soft, malleable minds. I even support the concept of massive online content sharing, but I can’t support the slow murder of a game company or band just for mere convenience.