Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “without music, life would be a mistake.” While this may be a little bit of a stretch on Nietzsche’s part, it demonstrates the power that music holds in the lives of many people. Throughout history music has started cultural revolutions, influenced political movements, and created a multi-billion dollar industry. It has become such an integral part of our lives that we often don’t realize the impact it has. We live in a world where music is readily available to the public in many different forms (especially following the introduction of the internet). With the simple click of a button, anyone with internet access can download a song whether it be Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen, or that timeless classic, “Never Had a Dream Come True” by S Club 7. The government has intervened in order to protect the artists from having their intellectual property stolen.
I think we all can remember the days of illegally downloading music on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks like Kazaa or Limewire (or for those of you who started young- the infamous Napster) that would slow your computer down to a crawling pace and interfere with your AOL dial-up connection. We all heard the stories of kids being caught and charged with unbelievable fines in order to be made an example of. It always seemed like it could never happen to you, but the possibility existed.
I am torn on this issue, because I understand how illegal downloading has nearly destroyed the record industry. I mean honestly, unless it’s a hobby or you are big on collecting, when was the last time you bought a CD? Apple’s iTunes has done a great job of allowing the record industry to keep up with technological advancements, but people are still more likely to download a song for free as opposed to paying the 99 cents. That being said, I believe that we are reaching a cross roads where people downloading music from the internet should not be persecuted. The files are available and there is essentially no way to combat that fact. Holding a handful of individuals accountable for the illegal download of some of these files just seems archaic and outdated. The artists will complain that the music is their personal property and any illegal downloads are theft. However, numerous artists have achieved great success and gained popularity by releasing their music in the form of “mix tapes” for free.
I just wish music would go back to being more about the MUSIC and less about the business. Apparently some artists agree with me on that. A band named Relient K has the following lyric in one of their songs, “I know that you probably magically got this song for free. I don’t know if it bothers me, that seems fine, cause I’m having a good time.” The government should stop holding people liable in civil and criminal suits, and just let everybody enjoy the music and have a good time.