Online Piracy

My Washington Monthly internship has unfortunately come to an end. I learned a lot and was able to write more than 20 blog posts for the site, fact check a number of articles and help with research on many topics. I want to thank everyone there for making it such an enjoyable experience!

The last thing I wrote for the Monthly was a look at the online piracy of music. In short, online piracy is not an issue. Here’s an excerpt:

The RIAA would like Congress to treat intellectual property the same as physical property. Under such a scenario, Congress would pass laws that prevent all illegal downloading. The main goal of such laws would be to prevent theft and to protect the music industry’s profits. But digital music is different than physical property; it’s intellectual property and thus governed by the Copyright Clause. If the rise of online downloading had caused a drop in the quantity of music and artists were no longer entering the industry, then Congress would have a reason to crack down on online piracy. The evidence points in the opposite direction.

The quantity of music, including both new albums and new artists, has not decreased with the advent of digital music and the rise of online piracy. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the authority on music industry statistics, artists released 38,857 new in 1999 when Napster debuted and not once from 1992-2002 were there more than 40,000 albums released in a year. In 2008, the number of albums released reached an all-time high at 106,000. As the recession hit the following year, the number dropped to 96,000 and thendropped again, in 2010 to 75,000. But in 2011, it rebounded to 77,000 new releases, nearly double the number released in 1999.

I went through all the academic literature on online piracy I could find and will have more on what I found that is not in the piece later on. Until then though, go check it out.


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