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Piracy Still Isn't Going Anywhere

Emily White, an intern at NPR, wrote the article "I Never Owned Any Music to Begin With", explaining she has 11,000+ songs in her iTunes library by has only paid for 15 CDs in her life. While she states that seh supports bands through concert tickets and t-shirts, she admits that her generation probably won't be buying

This triggered a thoughtful, well-written post from David Lowery at The Trichordist. In it, he talks about the heavy burden that artist friends of his had to bear due to financial hardship, eventually leading to their suicides. Wow, heavy stuff.

He then goes on to clearly explain the immorality of piracy quite well, although the extended metaphor for the internet as a neighborhood that is built around theft fell a little flat with me.

While I agree that piracy is immoral. I don't think the morality angle will make much of a dent in people's behavior. It's preaching to the choir. Saying something is immoral doesn't make people any less likely to do it, especially if the systematic structures in place make it easier to be immoral than moral. 

For many people, piracy doesn't feel like a crime and so their moral intuition doesn't interpret the behavior that way. The band doesn't have "less MP3s" to parcel out to fans, so it's simple for someone to rationalize "It's only a couple cents the band isn't getting."  Even when we know with certainty that driving above the speed limit increases traffic deaths, virtually everyone speeds at least a little. "Because come on!", people rationalize, "I'm just going a few over and I'm already late for the concert!"

Think about how much easier to click "download all" than it is to:
   -Decide how much you actually want to hear the band.
   -Look at your music budget and determine if you've got the $9.99 for the album.
   -Weigh the moral implications of how much the download hurts the band / label.

Most people won't spend too much time on a band. There's an infinite number of songs to listen to on the internet and a casual fan won't spend too long with one before moving on to find a band that better connects with them. Only medium to strong fans will go through the purchase process.
Yes, it's a bummer.

But piracy isn't going anywhere.

The icecaps have already melted on planet music.

Adapt to the new planet or fail.


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