The rise of technology in the latter half of the 20th Century has given us a wealth of films and music albums available to buy and download from the internet. However, for every legal film and music market place, there are also many illegal download sites that allow users to download the files for free. Whilst gaining music or videos for free – without proceeds going to the artists or record / film company – is inherently a crime, many people argue that film and music companies are overpricing their goods and the proceeds are landing in the wrong hands. The extent to which music and video piracy affect the respective industries is questionable, as it is such a difficult area to obtain empirical data. Nonetheless, considerable amounts of money are definitely being lost due to music and video piracy every year.
The effect of music piracy on the industry
Music piracy is effectively the acquiring or distributing of music files without the consent of the artists and record companies, meaning that they do not gain any money. Whilst record companies argue that they are losing a lot of money to illegal downloading sales, they are unable to give an accurate estimation because they cannot gain sufficient empirical data. Many record companies produce figures estimating that almost 95% of music downloads are illegal, which is costing the music industry billions of dollars a year. In 2009, a foundation called the ‘Featured Artists Coalition’ was created and its aims are to promote more control of the music industry for the artists, rather than the record companies. This would mean consumers would be more inclined to buy music legally, as more revenue would fall in the hands of the deserving artists.
The effect of video piracy on the industry
Similar to the music industry, the film industry has found it difficult to estimate how much money is lost to illegal videos. The film industry is split into box office sales and DVD/Blu-ray sales so estimations are made in each type of sale. The film industry experts have suggested that film piracy does not really affect DVD/Blu-ray sales because by the time films are released on DVD, they are usually being played on the television, meaning that there is less of an incentive for people to illegally access video copies. This means that the main loss is in the box office sales, where major film companies have argued that $2-3 billion is lost every year through piracy, which is a significant percentage out of the revenue brought in through box office sales.
It is evident that music and video piracy have a substantial effect on the industries – if it is not financial it is the effects of illegal downloads on the artists and film crews whose hard work is undermined. However, unless the industries can find a more accurate way of determining how much is lost through illicit downloads, the full effect cannot really be known.
Picture:DOC RABE Media – Fotolia