Darren Waters

No defence for 'stealing' music

  • Darren Waters
  • 3 Jul 08, 08:44 GMT

So were you among the 800 people to receive a letter from Virgin Media and the BPI about downloading music from file-sharing sites?

The two companies have started their education campaign to try and stop people from using tools like Limewire and BitTorrent to share copyright songs.

It's supposed to be a softly-softly approach but Virgin has done itself no favours by putting the letters in an envelope marked "If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected."

That was a mistake, says Virgin.

No-one's threatening legal action yet, but the BPI have made clear time and time again that the hammer remains poised to be brought down hard on the most persistent offenders.

This issue always attracts a lot of debate. It's one I've been following since the early days of Napster.

It's a complicated debate, wrapped up as it is in notions of intellectual property rights, copyright, consumer rights, consumer expectations, the changing music landscape, the revolution in digital distribution.

I've heard a lot of rhetoric from both sides and the arguments of those who defend their use of file-sharing sites tend to be:

•Music is too expensive
• I download music for free to get a taste and then buy the album
• Downloading some songs for free encourages me to buy more music overall
• The entire structure of the music industry is just flawed beyond repair
• The music industry is making enough money already
• The copyright laws need to be overhauled for the 21st Century

I've probably missed a few off. But I have to say that to my mind not one of those arguments is justification for stealing. I actually agree with some of the points and over the years have also felt frustrated by the attitude of record firms. But is that a reason to steal?

And I'll be very honest here. I have used file-sharing sites myself in the past to download music. About six years ago I used Napster and Audio Galaxy to download songs without paying.

What were my reasons? At the time, curiosity and simplicity.

I stopped because it was clear I was breaking the law. I was wrong to do it. I have long since deleted those songs.

The music industry was slow to wake up to the digital revolution. It did spend too long embracing out-moded models of production, distribution and consumption.

And there remain major issues around digital rights management and legitimate digital content:

• DRM frustrates many consumers and imposes often ludicrous restrictions
• Audio quality on many digital downloads is laughably poor

And the music industry's tactic of identifying IP addresses of those machines that are file-sharing tracks without permission and then passing them on to the ISP which operates those IP addresses, is not without flaw itself.

Anyone with a wireless network could probably argue, with justification, that there is no way to definitively prove that the download took place on a machine they owned.

But is any of that a reason to steal? Is it?

UPDATE: A few people have questioned my use of the word stealing. Arguing that it is copyright infringement and not stealing. There may be a point here but to my mind this is semantics. It's a bit like breaking into a car, driving it around and then abandoing it. I believe it's called Taking Without Consent in legal parlance. Stealing to everybody else.


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  • Comment number 1.

    So, do you legally own a licence for every single music file on your computer?

    It appears that the music industry focuses all its energy into people that dowload music from strangers, and never even mention people that plug their external hard drive into their mates' computers and copy the entire "Music" folder over...

    ... or who borrow a CD off a mate and accidentially click Rip instead of Play...

    (Maybe I shouldn't have just alerted the BPI to that... oh crumbs...)

    Whilst I agree the artists and promoters do deserve pay for their efforts, this should come from live performances and other endorsements such as use of the music in official media, such as adverts, documentaries etc...

    The music industry has become far too much of a commercial product, rather than an art form. Go into a studio, plug in Casio® keyboard, sing lyrics composed by someone else, have voice track edited on computer to make it sound in tune, package, sell, make profit....

    ... rather than the recorded version being a small part of the picture - in the good old days (or maybe just an ideal world?) music is about people playing musical instruments and standing on a stage performing to people. Musicians should spend more time doing THAT, rather than creating a manufactured and cellophaned product in a studio owned by a fat cat in an Armani suit.

    A model where people don't pay for the music tracks is a superb one, and it doesn't have to be one where the musicians get zilch, either.

    If you buy an iPod or other portable music player, and it says "wahey, you can fit 10,000 songs on this baby!!", then stop and do the maths.... 10,000 x 79p is £7,900..... who on EARTH is going to spend that much on music to fill up their music player??? Most of it'll be "free" or "borrowed" from a friend.

    Having 10,000 songs is great (apparently, someone's told me... I of course don't....ahem), being able to have instant access to pretty much any song you want, any time... great for parties, blah blah blah...... and this is something of course I'd happily pay for, but not almost ten thousand pounds thank you very much....... I'd happily go and see my favourite band twice a year..... in fact whilst living out of the UK I flew back twice in one year to see Muse at the MEN and then at Wembley....

    So I'll pay for music, but not per track!

  • Comment number 2.

    @Paul Freeman-Powell I think you raise a crucial point. Per track payments, I think, are doomed long term.
    The next battleground is the rights we get when we buy a license for as much music as we want to consume.

  • Comment number 3.

    I find it hard to believe you are the Saint you make yourself out to be, but wont focus on that aspect.

    The music industry is greedy and on a power trip.

    I used to listen to Pandora until they banned it in the UK due to licensing laws. Unless they can make money out of any which way we choose to listen to music, they will do their utmost to stop us.

    I'm suprised they haven't built giant domes over Reading or Glastonbury festival yet, so none of the sound can be heard by anyone who hasn't splashed out Hundreds of pounds on a ticket.

    I own a lot of CD's and legally downloaded music, I am happy to support the bands I enjoy. But how am I supposed to find new artists if I can't listen to them without getting my wallet out (which will never happen).

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh... and another thing - I've made this point before but it's relevant again now... stealing is only stealing, I would think, if it actually negatively effects the other party, and takes something from them.

    I totally reject the idea that downloading an MP3 is just like walking into HMV and emptying the shelf of CDs into my bag.

    Imagine Joe Bloggs turns on his computer and downloads a few songs one day. He downloads 50 songs that he quite likes and will listen to a lot.

    I reckon 9 times out of 10, Joe Bloggs only downloaded those tracks because he could, for free. If that option wasn't there, he would have just done without them, because he didn't want them that much that he was going to pay forty quid for 50 tracks.

    So, to tally up...

    ---- Scenario One ----
    Joe Bloggs downloads the tracks and pays nothing for them.

    Profit for the record company: ZERO
    (But with the potential for additional profit because listening to those tracks turns Joe into an uber-fan, and he ends up going to all the concerts, paying lots of money to the record company).

    ---- Scenario Two ----
    "Free" music downloading doesn't happen in this world, so Joe Bloggs doesn't download the songs. He still doesn't buy them, though, because he doesn't fancy spending £40, because he's a student, his loan only just covers his rented flat and he has to buy food at his weekly ASDA shopping trip. So he just does without, and listens to the radio instead.

    Profit for the record company: ZERO

    Oh look... the profit for the record companies was exactly the same both times.... therefore NO DIFFERENCE to their profits.

    Losses to record companies due to music downloading: ZERO (or very close to Zero!!)

    Statistics can say what you want them to say, and the BPI seem to assume that every downloaded song takes the place of a song that would otherwise have been paid for. That's just not true!

  • Comment number 5.

    What about the 90% of music that the record companies sell to the public completely DRM free?

    Yes, the humble Compact Disc. Excellent quality, no DRM, easy to copy.

    Maybe if prices were reduced, people would stop downloading, but that will never happen, because the music industry are greedy barons.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Paul Freeman-Powell Radio is free for listeners but a license has still been paid to play that music. The radio station pays it.
    The music isn't free.

    @twelveeightone Not sure I see your point. Yes, you can buy CDs. Yes, you can buy downloads. It's a choice.
    And you know, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit!

  • Comment number 7.

    I can't remember where I saw it (which is a real pain as I'd love to cite my source), but I'm positive I saw a report which showed that people who download music via nefarious means actually spend MORE on compact discs, concerts etc.

  • Comment number 8.

    @darrenwaters Yes, i'm aware that radio stations pay royalties, which is akin to the model i was referring to in my first post (official uses such as adverts, documentaries and i should have said radio stations and music channels too...)

    free for listeners was the main point there :)

  • Comment number 9.

    This is a particularly emotive issue and I will admit to being on both sides of the law, for instance I was a big fan of iTunes regularly paying up for albums which in the end I regret - the quality was ok on my iPod but try listening to those same files burned to a disc on any mid-range system and the quality is shocking not to mention the DRM which effectively rendered my music collection purchases from iTunes obsolete as I no longer use iTunes or own an iPod. DRM is without any shadow of doubt in my mind an anti-consumer technology.

    I do agree with many of the comments posted above regarding the music industries obsession with making vast amounts of money using an old business model.

    That said there are some record labels which acknowledge the need to change, eMusic for example is stocked up with music in MP3 format from mostly independent labels. eMusic has what I consider a fair pricing policy, a set fee per month for a set number of tracks - the problem with services such as eMusic is that many of the big names in the industry are not participating because they want to make more profits than the business model eMusic employs will generate... that and the concept of music being sold without any controls.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm with Paul Freeman-Powell on this one. I too don't have a single illegally downloaded MP3, video or game on my system so I feel I can argue on fair ground.

    Copyright infringement is NOT stealing. You've clearly been indoctrinated by watching those idiotic "PIRACY IS STEALING" ads before DVDs and the cinema. Legally they are completely different.

    Morally, stealing deprives someone of something and copyright infringement does not. If I download an MP3 by Britney Spears then what has she lost by my download? A *potential* sale. In fact, as you hint to above, it may be that I never buy that song but do buy her next album as a result.

    What you seem to be missing out on is that the music industry doesn't dislike downloading because it means they lose money, they dislike it because it lowers the barrier of entry to the marketplace. When someone can just stick their MP3 onto the net and have the world download it for free it gives them a great level of publicity and exposure that they couldn't get 20 years ago.

    Notice that those getting enraged by the downloading are not the musicians but the labels. Some musicians go as far as to openly say "download my music". In these huge lawsuits and payouts in the US none of the proceeds go to the musicians. It goes in the pockets of the RIAA executives.

    Wake up and smell the mustard. The music industry isn't dying just the mainline record labels are making less money because they don't want to distribute music for a price and in a fashion that people want to get it and prefer to sue than actively change their business model.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm interested to know if you have purchased all the songs on your PC or MP3 player from legal download sites? Or have you copied any CD's on to your computer?

    It is in fact against UK copyright law to copy a CD to your computer or MP3 player!! I doubt there is a single person waling around the UK with an MP3 player with no CD copied on to it.

    Does this mean the BMI will start to take action against Apple, Microsoft and the hundred other companies that product CD ripping software??

  • Comment number 12.

    Of course these are not justifiable reasons for stealing. That is why I don't do it, neither do I buy music anymore, as it is still way overpriced.

    However there is no doubt that without the masses of music piracy out there has been a great thing for the average consumer. Without it we would probably be staring down the barrel of 20 quid albums.

    At least the music industry is being forced to get itself into gear. There is no doubt that they are still way behind the times, and I wonder if they have the desire to ever catch up. Why should the consumer suffer and not get forward thinking technology just because the greedy record companies own the copyrights?

  • Comment number 13.

    Is it available on the net?
    Can I download it free of charge?
    The only way to stop this problem is to make it not available on the net.
    Until then, I will carry on downloading whatever I want, when I want, as long as it is available on the net, through whichever ISP I choose.

  • Comment number 14.

    @Pyson1970 I believe the BPI has made clear they will take no action against people who copy their CDs to their computer or iPod.

    Although their attempt to engender an iPod tax was a mistake.

    @ALL The issue of stealing versus coyright infringement to my mind is semantics. It's a bit like breaking into a car, driving it around and then abandoing it. I believe it's called Taking Without Consent in legal parlance.

  • Comment number 15.

    For me there are two issues here. One is the determination of the music industry to resist changes to it's structure. We are dealing with a group of organisations who rather than embracing digital music orginally tried to stop CDs from being played on PCs to prevent them being copied. This demonstrated the extent to which they value the consumer and established their attitude for the years that followed.

    People like Peter Gabriel have realised the potential for digital music and has developed a system where downloading music is free but contains an advert where is played before the song for a finite number of time before being removed yet this is the exception rather than the rule.

    File sharing will not stop just because the BPI has found a way to combat the current trend. Digital music over the internet was a paradigm shift and we cannot go back to what we had before. Newer file sharing systems replace older file sharing systems and people will continue to SHARE (note I used share not steal - is it stealing if someone gives me a football ticket they have paid for?) music regardless of any measure employed by the BPI. Remember this is the same organisation that wishes to stop bands from giving away albums with Sunday papers in case it affects the opportunity to line their pockets

  • Comment number 16.

    I'd love to download music but want to make sure that I'll be able to use it in future, I only want to pay once so abhor DRM for not rental items.

    However I will never steal. Just because a CD is a physical object the profits are still all about the content so I don't see the difference between not paying in HMV or not paying online.

    Over the years I have a smallish music collection of about 4000 tracks all of which are legally bought and (maybe not so legally) ripped to the computer which probably equates to a £2000 investment. It's probably right that I wouldn't go out and spend £2000 on music just to fill up an iPOD but then I don't think I would know 4000 tracks that I would want to listen to without having spent a number of years deciding what to buy.

  • Comment number 17.

    > Anyone with a wireless network could probably argue, with justification, that there is no way to definitively prove that the download took place on a machine they owned.

    This argument just doesn't wash. If you have wireless network and you have NOT protected access to it by either of the standard mechanisms then surely you have to be prepared for that type of attention: imagine if someone in the street used the network to download (say) child porn: you would be getting far more intrusive and public attention when the police turned up.

  • Comment number 18.

    I cannot see why an album that is over , say, 5 years old should still be charged full price on a CD, thats just the record companies rip off!
    Secondly, if instead of chasing naughty people for downloading free music maybe the BPI should get its act together and give us in the UK the same opportunities to buy music on-line as they have in the USA. So many times I have tried to buy a track and find I cannot because I live in the wrong place! When you cannot buy it legally of course people will look elsewhere!
    The record companies complain of piracy but deny the right to legal downloads because of antiquated copyright rules.

  • Comment number 19.

    Please stop using the word "stealing". Copying music is not stealing - it is copyright infringement. There is a big difference.

  • Comment number 20.

    "stealing music"?

    The legal definition of theft is to take with intention to permanently deprive.

    Could Darren Waters explain how downloading - i.e creating an additional copy of a song - permanantly deprives its owner of that song?

    Clearly he has not thought through his own arguments and instead prefers to propogate the same illogical arguments the industry use to justify their own profit grabbing immorality.

  • Comment number 21.

    @#11 Psyon1970. That's not my understanding of the law at all. I believe it is legal to copy a CD or DVD (for which you've paid) to your PC or MP3 player. When you buy the CD you buy the right to copy it to different formats for your own personal use. But you don't buy the right to distribute it to others.

  • Comment number 22.

    You know in 2007 the number of legal singles sales was higher than ever before? Due to the number of people paying to download tracks. And the biggest-ever year for albums was 2004. Industry's own figures. Downloading bootlegs is NOT decimating the market, it is IMPROVING it. Perhaps the BPI ought to spend more money on an education campaign to its members suggesting they don't waste £110,000,000 on Mariah Carey and Robbie Williams.

    Most of the "illegally" downloaded stuff is by people who would never have purchased the song in any event. It's not losings sales. Look at Trent Reznor's thing - mate of his sells 20,000 albums, no-one will release the follow-up, Reznor releases it free from his website, with a better-quality version available for purchase. Result? 20,000 sales. Plus another 100,000 downloading it free to check it out. Artist reaches a larger market but keeps his sales level. And receives a larger royalty.

    On top of that is the spread of live shows which would never be commercially available. I'd be happy to pay for proper show recordings, plugged into the sound-desk, after all it wouldn't cost much to upload it onto a band's website. But does the industry do this? So the only alternative is bittorrent.

    As it is, the BPI wants ISPs to shut people's access to their friends, their bank accounts, their utility providers, their entire digital lives and have a gigantic impact on their REAL lives, without actually bothering to bring a proper legal case themselves to prove what the person is doing is wrong. It's repugnant in the extreme. And cowardly.

  • Comment number 23.

    If people are to start downloading music legally, then the fat cats need to sort out a well working and cost effective way of convincing us to do it.

    1) at 70p a song, it can work out more expensive to download an album than to actually buy one.

    2) I once went to download an album, and worked out that if I downloaded each song individually, I saved £2.30 compared to downloading the album as a whole. How many people were ripped off in that process?

    I think most of it is the music companies trying to cover up their poor pricing. They don't see it that they are charging far too much, and that is exactly why people are using file sharers to download music

  • Comment number 24.


    Please stop perpetuating the music industry myth that copyright infringement = stealing.

    Theft and copyright infringement are two very different things, both legally and morally. While I can understand why the music industry likes to equate the two - "theft" sounds much more emotive than "copyright infringement" after all - it's wrong, misleading and undermines the real crime that stealing is.

  • Comment number 25.

    The semantics between copyright infringement and stealing is stealing is taking a physical object where as copyright infringement is the reproduction of an idea or concept.

    The music industry in america didnt do any favours in the battle to respect copyright however when it was discovered the RIAA were using illegally cracked software.

  • Comment number 26.

    I had to sign up to post this, since your rant couldn't stand without clarification.

    It is not stealing.


    call it what you will, but duplicating bits involves no loss of content.

    It's also not piracy - that involves ships, and normally some amount of violence.

    As soon as the mass media stops pushing the music industry agenda (including the brainwashing as to how we should distribute and view content in a digital medium) then maybe - just maybe - people might start listening to you. Of course, it's easier to just sit back there and pretend you're on the "right side" isn't it?

  • Comment number 27.

    There's a big difference between stealing and copyright infringement the last time I checked, one was a Civil matter where you could be sued by a person or company for financial loss, the other is a criminal matter which a person can be jailed and is dealt with by the state.

    My understanding is copyright infringement doesn't become a criminal matter unless it's being done for commercial gain, your average Joe Bloggs who leaves a torrent window open after a download is done isn't financially in any way. Imagine, if you will, if the lobby groups managed to move the act of copyright infringement from the civil court to the criminal court, our already overburdened with paperwork police force would be swamped!

  • Comment number 28.

    "@ALL The issue of stealing versus coyright infringement to my mind is semantics. It's a bit like breaking into a car, driving it around and then abandoing it. I believe it's called Taking Without Consent in legal parlance."

    No it isn't, if you take someone's car they are negatively effected. You contribute to the wear and tear of the components (every mile you drive the car is an extra mile on the clock and a mile closer to breakdown). The person is also prevented from using the car when you are using it.

    Downloading the music is actually the equivalent of someone using a magic cloning machine to make an identical copy of your car and driving that around. Ford would probably be a bit annoyed, and if someone did it without my permission so would I (I paid good money for the car).

    However, if the person who did this wasn't going to buy the car (they couldn't afford it, only wanted to go on a test drive etc.) have either of us lost out?

    Of course "Ford" would also have access to that magical cloning machine which would decrease the costs of making their car meaning they make more profit selling the car to those who planned to buy it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Until places like iTunes (which I used to download a LOT from) allows you to download without any sort of DRM and in more than the pathetic 128kbps (bearing mind a song ripped from a CD at 'lossless' quality will be around 1000 or so), the record industry will have a problem.

    I am in the process of rebuilding my entire music library as I can't play anything downloaded from iTunes on my Wireless Network Music player, and all that does is stream music from my computer to my stereo!

    Why is it that I can buy a CD and do whatever the hell I like with it (including as someone has mentioned, lend it to any number of friends) but as soon as I buy an album online for basically the same price (knocking off the cost of the packaging it's probably even more expensive) its completely locked down!

    Rubbish. People will continue to download illegally until there's a reasonable alternative.

  • Comment number 30.

    People seem to be focusing record companies/artists having too much money but the money that is made for the million selling acts goes back into all the other bands that labels sign which go nowhere. It costs a small fortune to get a band to the point of releasing a record and now that margins are much, much smaller, labels are no longer taking chances. This goes some way to explain the lack of diverse acts that there has been in the past.
    Yes, it is cheaper to record these days but even if a new band does record its own music, there is no way they can afford to promote and distribute it.
    As for the argument that artists should make their money from live performance: If no one has heard of a group and there are no sales, what promoter is going to take a chance on them?
    It goes round and round and will kill off music as we know it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lest we forget, the anti-piracy ads shown on DVDs and in the cinema:

    * You wouldn't steal a mobile phone/car/handbag... mp3? Yes, that's clearly the same issue.

    * Piracy feeds terrorism. Oh boy, the image of a cackling Osama Bin Laden sitting on a heap of counterfeit DVDs, working his diabolical masterplan of media piracy against the west, is just too chilling.

    * Piracy hurts artists. Yes, I'm sure it does under the current system, but it hurts record labels first, and harder. And that's something I have limited sympathy for...

    Currently an alternative distribution system is emerging. It's in a clumsy prototype form, and isn 't yet ready to take on the record labels directly, but it's growing. It's Myspace and other networking sites, which allow artists to distribute their music directly with a reduced dependency on established recording labels. Perhaps this will cause job losses in the music industry one day. Well, they can sympathise with red flag men.

  • Comment number 32.

    And just to expand on my earlier point, theft is very clearly defined as a criminal offence for which you can be arrested, charged and fined / imprisoned.

    Copyright infringement is a civil matter between two parties and has a very different legal defintion to "theft".

  • Comment number 33.

    @ exiled_tyke

    Ok, i like that scenario - i've bought a CD, it works, so i've chucked out the receipt. I copy the files to my hard drive so i can put them on my ipod, and then, being the generous sould i am, i give the CD to a charity shop, or to a friend. I no longer own the CD, but i own the music. Is that wrong?

    And regarding downloads - how can the record company prove that you haven't got in touch with the person you were planning to download something from, and got their consent? If you did that, then surely it's no different to borrowing a CD off a friend? In which case there's no way they can police the legalities of that.

  • Comment number 34.

    Your example isnt valid unfortunatly. The main thing about "stealing" is that you are depriving the rightfull owner of the "item". Taking away it's use and value.

    In the case of the car, the original user dosent have access to it, and becomes liable to any laws you break while driving it.

    If you download a song, you are copying it. The original is unaffected. This is why if You walk into a shop and take the item off the shelf and walk out with it, it's stealing. You have taken an item of value. Copying a song is breach of copyright, as you have only withheld payment of royaltys.

    A better example i think is the following:

    You walk into a book shop. You take a cook of the shelf and photocopy it. You then put the book back on the shelf (undamaged) and walk out with the photo copy. Now, have you stolen the book?

    In my opinion, no. But you have breached it's copyright....

  • Comment number 35.

    Thank you Virgin Media for pointing out to me that I am doing wrong in downloading music that has been made available to the whole world on the internet. Do you really mean that if everyone using your service were to do so, then they would be cut off, and you would be prepared to lose this business? If I walk along the street and find a pile of money, pick it up and spend it am I doing wrong, and I should have left it there? I think you have your priorities wrong here - is it not the person who makes the music available for download who is doing an illegal act - read the copyright notice on records next time you buy one.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm actually buying more 'legitimate' CDs now then I did before I could download tracks to see what they were like.

    That's not just one or two more either, I've bought dozens this way in the last 2 years alone. If they don't want me to listen to a track before I buy it then it obviously isn't that good and they know it, and let's not forget the industries wonderful idea of discontinuing certain CDs after a few years so that you physically CANNOT buy them, what alternative is there aside from file-sharing networks then?

    As for the 'piracy is theft' campaign, I'm actually sick of hearing/seeing the same patronising message all the time, which in turn means I care even less than I would without the ads.

    As for downloading movies...if they were released at the same time in all countries you'd pretty much wipe out the movie downloads industry in an instant.

    Downloading TV programmes is similar, if the stupid network bosses stopped cancelling shows mid season, or changing the schedule every week, and released them on DVD for a reasonable price (especially the BBC who sell the DVDs of programmes we've already paid to produce!) there wouldn't be a niche for sites like Surf The Channel.

    The industry needs to take a good long look at the causes of 'piracy' because in my experience 9/10 times the fault is that the industries have forgotten that the customer is king in ANY business.

  • Comment number 37.

    It's interesting reading general opinion on this blog and many others across the web where many view the Music Industry with distain attempting to justify their illegal downloading habits.

    Yes record companies may be greedy, yes they may need to rethink their methods for future markets and distribution. Maybe they've already missed the boat but stealing music, both physically or digital copying is simply not legal or moral. We’ve developed a global culture which suggests consumers are the victims and so are entitled to only pay what we want for music. This simple doesn’t work as proven by recent experiments and can only be detrimental to artists we steal from.

    Nowadays I use iTunes. It has its faults but there are many new alternatives offering DRM free tracks. More competition can only be better for consumers.

    I’m tired of hearing the same excuses. I myself have downloaded illegally in the past, mainly when Kazza and Audio Galaxy were in full swing with all my peers were doing the same. It was normal. I still have friends who laugh at the idea of me actually paying money for music, but I find that sad. Why do people think it’s perfectly normal and acceptable? It reminds me of that rather annoying anti-piracy ad shown on the start of many dvd’s. You wouldn’t walk into HMV and steel a single so why is it different online.

    I personally think it’s because it’s simple, it’s easy and people know they can get away with it without getting caught. I don’t applaud invasion of piracy or ISPs withdrawing service but there is no doubt that something needs to be done for people to take illegally downloading music seriously.

  • Comment number 38.

    Would all these people who steal music from the Internet be as carefree about going into stores and shoplifting? - because that's all it is- electronic shoplifting.

  • Comment number 39.

    It's the excuses/justifications that people use that wind me up more than anything:
    -If I like it I might buy it later
    -I'd just be lining the pockets of the "fat cats"
    -CD's cost too much

    These people are just downloading illegally because they can.

  • Comment number 40.

    Your abandoned car analogy is absurd. An act that would be analogous to digital copying of music would be building your own car based on the specifications of the car in question.

    Your scenario is only analogous to physically robbing an album from a shop and throwing it in a ditch.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have fundamental concerns with this approach. I drop a letter in the Post Box and trust Royal Mail to deliver our Post. I do not expect Royal Mail to open my letter, read the content and judge if it is illegal, illicit, inflammatory or immoral. If we are happy with the approach to mail being delivered this way, why then, does Virgin Media think it is appropriate for them to snoop and analyse the content of the data that I download or upload?

    I agree copyright should be protected. But before we speak of copyright protection, please ensure privacy of individuals!!

  • Comment number 42.

    This is not stealing. As someone else pointed out, someone would have originally bought the song and then shared it over the internet. So it is against copyright law but I am not stealing as someone is providing their copy of the song to be downloaded.

    The BPI (and others) constantly claim that 'illegal' file sharing deprives up and coming acts of money but it is the big acts and the hit songs that are being downloaded, not the acts struggling to make a living. I feel absolutely no guilt in downloading for free a song by an artist who is worth millions. It is all about greed and money on the part of the record industry.

  • Comment number 43.

    It does make me laugh. As someone said earlier, how can they justify charging £7 for an album that I could pick up in Virgin Megastores for £2 in the bargain aisle.

    What also makes me laugh is the way the companies are making it look like they are the victims. It's pure greed. These companies are making BILLIONS a year, yet complain that we wonna save ourselves some dosh (considering the rate of inflations at the moment).

    They want to bring in these measures in order to make more money, but once they have us, the consumer, will not get any benefit out of it!

  • Comment number 44.

    How arrogant can you get?

    People point out that your terminology is wrong, and then you pick a totally spurious example as a way to straw-man your argument into some semblance of legitimacy. For shame. One would expect more from the BBC.

    Have you even thought past the impact of how this kind of activity will affect people when technology makes this a feasible approach to media other than movies and music? Physical replication (like RepRap) is going to prove that your argument is utterly, utterly wrong. Open your eyes.

    There's nothing wrong with people expecting money for providing goods or services, but preaching that we all somehow owe the record and movie industries an indefinate revenue stream because they were the first people to make a copy of something just beggars belief.

  • Comment number 45.

    Also, who is it that REALLY is in the wrong? Is it the person who download it, or the person who puts it up for download?

    IMO, I think it's the person that puts it up for download. Arent they the person who is actually breaking the copywrite law, and not the downloader?

    Perhaps the companies should turn their attention to thsose people...

  • Comment number 46.

    "It's a bit like breaking into a car, driving it around and then abandoing it."

    I have to agree with Mark_WE here, this is clearly a very flawed analogy.

    Downloading software affects the potential profit that a record label can make from a song.
    Other than that I'm sure it doesn't hurt the record label that this song is get more publicly know as it also increases the potential market for the music by having more people hear it.

    Breaking into a car, stealing it, driving it around and abandoning it on the other hand causes emotional and financial stress to the person who's car it was, it also causes them loss of time because they have to deal with insurance agencies and the police.

    It's not even taking without consent, because once a downloaded copy is made the original doesn't magically disapeer.

    I wouldn't normally object but it was such a sensationalist (and flawed) analogy to make that I really feel it doesn't do justice to the BBC brand.

  • Comment number 47.

    Working for the BBC website writing articles must get you quite a bit of money so bitching about something that you can afford has no impact on society.

  • Comment number 48.

    Absolutely ridiculous, you do what you want Darren but I'll be downloading movies, songs, games for however long I like. It's stealing..... so what? What's the big deal? Hope the music industry continues to screw you over and I'll get everything for free.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't know about in this country, but in many countries, DRM is also against the law, as the track has been mis-sold.

    You've ended up paying the right to have it on 4/6 computers, but don't actually own it.

    But then again, EMI have better lawyers than most of us.

    In response to #11: Go to France to rip your CDs. It is legal there as long as the tracks are ripped from the original. After all, you paid for the CD, you can do what you like with it.

  • Comment number 50.

    The record comanies will charge what the market can stand. Personally, I stopped buying from the major record labels some time ago (unless it is a gift a friend specifically wants) - my only words of advice to people is that if they don't like the amount being charged, then don't pay it. They'll get the message.

    I've been buying things from independents making their own CD's ... some really fresh music and so far I've found good quality recordings as well. The last one was bagpipe music and it's really got my feet tapping.

    It's not only the record companies that need to change their habits, perhaps some of the music buyers could consider changing their own?

    I started recording my own keyboard playing on top of being a published photographer and fuction author, (and an ex-music filesharer also) I also have a film script that will shortly go in to production, so copyright pirating and all that is strong on my mind.

    My own conclusion on a way forward? I haven't found one yet, but when companies start ripping off the independent individual photographer (as they have done for a good while now) no one seems to see fit to squeak and there is certainly little legal help for those wounded across international borders.

    If the public supports the independents; those who are still more concerned with the art they create than massive profits; then I'd like to see file sharers stop sharing that kind of media. Unless file sharers show some kind of morality then I believe there will be little public pity for file sharing. Only the file sharing community can draw that line.

  • Comment number 51.

    Clearly the music industry need to protect their revenues and secure a reasonable business for the future; we only wish they would come out of the past and embrace the 21st century rather then quivering behind a high court judge whilst a 14 year old girl downloading ‘Girls Aloud’ for her party gets hauled before the courts. Does one of the biggest industries in the world really want to go this way?

    The ridiculous thing about this issue is the fact that most people ARE prepared to pay for music, it’s just there is yet to be a satisfactory model to do this. The likes of iTunes are unacceptable in their price and format. People want thousands of songs from many different artists on their iPods; 21st century choice. Upwards of 80p for a song is too much and will simply put people off music. Do we really want to be constantly topping up our balance and entering credit card numbers just to get a track your mates told you about? I, for one, haven’t the time for it!

    Why cant the music industry embrace new ides like music subscription services; where a user pays a set fee per month/year and can access the music they want without needing the credit card to hand. We don’t pay money every time we go online, flick on a light switch or run a bath. Why cant music be a pre-paid resource?

    The industry believes they are fighting for their future business; in reality they are stamping all over it. Imagine the young girl told by her mum she can’t download anymore because they’ve had a strongly worded letter from their ISP. Will she shrug her shoulders and nip down HMV? Clearly not! She will go over her mate’s house, blank CD in hand. Or worse, switch on the Wii and forget all about that album she wanted.

    We’re told that as soon as people stop downloading for free this issue will be resolved; most people would probably agree that we’ll really see the end of this tiresome issue when the record companies get of their high horse and provide an agreeable downloading experience. Until then BPI, you can stick your Coldplay album… I’m off to play Mario Karts!!

  • Comment number 52.

    This is a nonsense ;p

    I do not download music "illegally" however it must not, must not be referred to as stealing.

    The reason it is considered "stealing" is not instinctive or intuitive; it is the copyright lobby which have attempted to define it as stealing in law. They have taken the opportunity to try to define a system most favourable to them. We should do likewise, and create a happier medium - like with libraries and books.

    It is not necessary for it to be conceptually close to stealing at all. They only use this word to prick your conscience.

    IP is like this all over. I am a scientist with membership in science publishers. I can view articles as many times as I like. I can print them. But I can only print them once. If I print them twice I am a 'criminal'. In international researach there are many reasons why I would need to print something twice!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    oh and on the subject of DRM:

    CDs have no DRM. You can rip from them and stick something on the Internet. So putting DRM on sold digital files does nothing for piracy; buy the cd instead and youre a distributer potentially.

    These things are just for profit. A certain major digital music seller does it to increase sales of their mp3 players. Despite what their CEO argues.

  • Comment number 54.

    Funny how musicians and the music industry never mention the fantastically privileged position they're in relative to other 'creative' industries. I'm a product designer, and unlike musicians, I get absolutely no automatic protection for my work - if someone wants to copy it, they're free to do so, anytime any place.

    If I want to obtain protection I have to shell out thousands to register the design, or patent the idea. In the case of patents in particular, to get the kind of worldwide protection musicians get free, and without lifting a finger, costs me literally tens of thousands of pounds, and has a strictly limited lifespan.

    The music industry needs to celebrate its fantastically good luck!

  • Comment number 55.

    Darrenwaters, I would point out that it's not always "free" to listen to the radio, small businesses are currently being harrassed by the PRS into buying a licence even if only 2 or 3 workers listen to the radio or stream it through their PC's!!
    So consequently businesses are having to switch off the radio to cut costs...

    As for downloading music, I have done it legally, then switched PC's and not been able to play my legally purchased tracks on the new PC. Thanks to DRM the BPI has stolen my purchased tracks from me.

    Also illegal sites are good for getting albums that labels have deleted or just not released on CD so there is no other way of getting them.

    If there was a site allowing DRM free music covering all music in a labels archives and had a reasonable monthy fee rather than by track then they would get my and many other people's business.

  • Comment number 56.

    This whole 'stealing' thing cracks me up.

    If I went and stole someones car, and abandoned it, pretty much there life would be wrecked.

    They'd have no transport, not way to get to work, and no doubt would have no money to buy a new one (probably because all their money has gone on legally downloading music)

    They'd then obviously lose their job, and go onto serious debt.

    If I 'steal' music, the owner of the record company isn't going to go bankrupt, is he? I doubt his life would be destroyed by it. Because I believe he's earning enough money as it is to miss out on some more bloody money.

    The article is a joke, and I think you've jumped onto the bandwagon to save your skin!

  • Comment number 57.

    It seems to me that anyone who complains that 'downloading music is not the same as stealing a CD from a shop' is kidding themselves. Just because one is something physical and the other is not does not make it any less like stealing. CDs are essentially copies of information just like downloads, does this make it ok to run into a shop and steal a couple of CDs?

    Alternatively think of it this way, is it ok to go into a music shop, pop all the CDs into your laptop and copy the music onto it before putting them back and walking out?

  • Comment number 58.

    The argument about copyright infringement is very old and not really the story here. Copyright owners will bust infringers, that isn't going to change.

    What interests me is the general acceptance that the BPI has identified infringers. Apparently they harvest IP addresses from P2P and torrent hubs.

    But it isn't illegal, or infringement, to visit these sites. And how does the BPI know that the content you are looking at is their copyright? And how do they know your IP address isn't being spoofed in some way?

    Is this another example of "guilty until you prove yourself innocent"?

  • Comment number 59.

    With regard to some of the above comments justifying stealing / copyright infringement (both equally bad) I'd just like to repeat a phrase i heard on Frasier which stuck with me: Rationalisation is the last refuge of an unsound mind.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ha, when I can acutually FIND some of the obsure stuff I listen too avaliable to buy then maybe I will stop downloading it to support the artist.

    But record companies tend to push soulless crap that makes them money so why should I give it too them!

  • Comment number 61.

    Lets not forget the song "Happy Birthday to you" is still under copyright until 2030, remember if you want a group of people to sing this song at your daughters 1st birthday to purchase a license!

    It won't matter before long anyway, in my opinion people are sick to death of the lobby groups telling them they're criminals, the youth of today doesn't believe they're breaking any laws, and even if they did, what multinational corporation is going to sue a 14 year old? That would be create PR for them on top of everything else!

    Personally I've not downloaded a licensed song in a long time, there's just nothing out there that I haven't been fed a thousand times before.

    What with artists finally waking up and realizing that they don't make their money from the record labels, they make it from live concerts and merchandise sales, with big names such as Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, and Joss Stone speaking out about it publicly. The internet and torrents make distribution of their music practically cost free.

    With sites like Jamendo who have just recently signed up over 10,000 albums under the Creative Commons licensing, who give 50% of their advertising revenue to the artists who use the site, and with the option for fans to directly donate money to artists they like, it's actively encouraging bands to be innovative opposed to fixing people into the same tried and tested formula they're sick of hearing.

    The music industry has already lost the battle, they're currently just stalling for time!

  • Comment number 62.

    Isn't it just as bad as me taping off the radio or tape-to-taping? that was tollerated!
    I can plug my mini disk player in to my computer and record songs from or other sites or online radio like from the BBC iPlayer. Or just use a recording programme to make it an mp3.
    why tollerate that and not this! its not a new problem - as people have said people have borrowed cds and tapes for year and then copied them! - so why not look at why people do it in the first place - drive prices down? we live ion a market economy after all!

    plus the greedy music industry do make enough money already!

    Also as far as I'm aware, if you buy an mp3 you have bought just that and not the song. therefore is it legal to download a song for free which you bought on LP in order to put it on cd? - why should you pay again! - more greedy music industry!

  • Comment number 63.

    Rationalisation is the last refuge of an unsound mind..................

    Most people don't care if it's classed as stealing/copyright infringement which may verywell be equally bad...... it's free, it doesn't hurt anyone so screw all of you who don't agree, I'll do it regardless

  • Comment number 64.

    music downloads are far too expensive!!
    when you think ,the music companies,dont have any packages to do,no discs to produce,and no distribution of stock,and yet they charge such high prices
    heres an example ,as I am in the golden oldies bracket I wanted to get some old Elvis tracks,on my download site they wanted 99p for each track,I wnted a double alban,apx £25 via the download .
    In Woolworths I found these ttracks for £3 the lot!!
    so I ask this question is it cheap to down load from the web??

  • Comment number 65.

    "Most people don't care if it's classed as stealing/copyright infringement which may verywell be equally bad...... it's free, it doesn't hurt anyone so screw all of you who don't agree, I'll do it regardless"

    Pretty much sums it up, along with your previous post, well done!

    As for this 'stealing car is the same as stealing music', perhaps we should turn it the other way round on the companies and see what THEY'RE doing to us!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    Of course artists should be properly remunerated for their work. It's a pity that the music industry didn't take that idea on-board in the past, when they had a monopoly on the means of production and distribution, exploiting the artists and the consumers.

    Technology has broken their monopoly, the only strategy they are pursuing is to try and shove Pandora back in her box while they pine for the old days when they made money hand over fist.

    The technology is not going to go away, consequently there is not enough 'gravy' to go round. Many parts of their industry are redundant. They need to downsize and re-invent themselves with a new business model that makes them relevant to artists and consumers alike.

  • Comment number 67.

    The Music Industry constantly "forgets" the demand is a function of price. The lower the price, the higher the demand. As a result, when something can be got for free people will access it, however once there is a price for it the demand will fall rapidly. This means that the projected losses they claim they suffer are unlikely to be anything like as big as they argue. It is more likely that they are currently earning almost all the income they can for their product at the current price they charge and any stopping of internet file sharing will have minimal effect on their sales and profits. Instead it will reduce the awareness of people to their products.

    The only people who steal income from the Music, Software and Film industries are those who make and sell illegal copies of their products and even they access a market closed to the main players by the prices they set.

  • Comment number 68.

    The difference between stealing and downloading music illegally (copyright infringement) is far from just semantics.

    The point is that when you steal a car and drive it around then dump it, you prevent someone else from using that car. If you download a piece of information you do not prevent anyone else from having it i.e. the marginal cost of production of that information is zero (almost zero, electricity etc etc).

    I'm not saying that that necessarily makes it ok, just that it is not the same as stealing a car, or any other physical object.

  • Comment number 69.

    I also have to agree that copyright infringement is NOT stealing. There is a big difference.

    I have to chuckle when you say the difference is merely semantics, and yet try to make yourself feel better about having illegally downloaded music tracks by deleting them when you realised it was wrong to have downloaded them. In your mind it must match the theft of a car and abandoning it scenario. So regardless of the fact you deleted them, it's still a crime you have yet to be punished for isn't it?

    I often wonder about the figures published for the money being lost by music industry due to downloads. Do they look at declining sales or try and estimate or count downloads? If it's the later then surely they realise people who download many many tracks would never have paid for them all legally?

  • Comment number 70.


    "preaching that we all somehow owe the record and movie industries an indefinate revenue stream because they were the first people to make a copy of something just beggars belief."

    If you want music - pay for it. Or use a service like Last.FM where you can listen to some music for free.

    I accept that my terminology on stealing as a legal definition is wrong.

    But whether its stealing or copyright infrigement - it's still wrong.

  • Comment number 71.

    I download potentially anything i might buy if i like it i buy it, if not i delete it. I own around 1000 CDs so i feel, whatever this blogger might say, it is a perfectly good reason to 'steal'. Many years ago i got sick of spending sometimes £15 on an album that turned out to be rubbish i no longer have this problem, thank you napster.

  • Comment number 72.

    First let me say that I try very hard not to illegally download intellectual property of any sort, and I do not condone such acts. Genarally I'll do without or find a legitimate channel to obtain my music, movies, software etc.

    Illegal copying of music tracks is nothing like theft. If I were to steal a car I would be depriving the owner of it's use, if I copy something without obtaining the correct licence then the owner can continue to use it. It seems to me that the intellectual property laws are fundamentally broken, perhaps because those who make the laws are unduly influenced by the same big business that produces the intellectual property.

    The cost of reproduction of data has shrunk to virtually zero since the development of the internet, this has profound implications for those producing the data. The music companies are finding that the business model that has made them very rich over the last half century or so is no longer viable. Rather than adapt they have instead pressed (often successfully) for legislation that criminalises their prospective customers. It's hard to see how this can be a good thing for anyone in the long term.

    Artists deserve paid for their work, even the ones for whom money is more important than art. Similarly those involved in the distribution and promotion if such work deserve to earn a living. They do not necessarily deserve the fantastic wealth they are currently afforded. When Simon Cowell and Madonna are down to their last mansion then perhaps the balance will have swung too far in favour of the consumer, but I can't see this happening any time soon.

    Finally, can we please stop using the word 'piracy' in connection with intellectual property. Piracy is something very different from copyright infringement, we may as well start calling shoplifters rapists and tax evaders murderers.

  • Comment number 73.

    Stealing huh?
    Solution: Make them give it back. That is, if you insist on making that analogy.

    Oh and by the way, make ISPs give back the money they've earned in the process.

    Why should we stand by watching the industry criminalise consumers for the sake of ISPs and the BPI trying to defend outdated entrenched positions?

    This position is being deliberately fueled by all those industry legal middle-men who obviously stand to gain much from this entrenchment. Not to mention a whole industry growing up around countermeasures to help ISPs clamp down on their own customers. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Next they too will be going cap-in-hand to government complaining they will be put out of business by emerging new business models. Oh yes, mark my words. And the government will of course want to encourage this new market sector in order to facilitate new surveilance technologies. It gets worse.

    Solution? Of course!

    It is about time ISPs became fully licensed "Media Service Providers" or MSPs, and started channelling the profits they have earned from downloading back to artists.

    The MSP business model is already established, with companies such as leading the way, yes right here in the UK.

    So come on!

    I'm also getting a tad fed up with the BBC just reporting the entrenched positions, of the BPI, the ISPs, and yes even the ORG, while ignoring some of the very real solutions out there. As a result 99.9% of the general public are unaware that THERE IS A SOLUTION.

    So less of the industry PR churnalism please. Please, please, please more investigative journalism.

    These are important times when government are being called upon to act. Isn't it right that we have all the facts, and all the options at our disposal?

    Check my blog user profile for other stuff i've said. Crikey i'm getting soooooooo worn out at this point.

  • Comment number 74.

    It is not "theft." Such ridiculous comments belong in the propaganda from the music industry itself, not the BBC.

    It has always and will always be the case, with the human race, that if it can be seen/touched/heard/tasted or smelled then it will be copied. It doesn't matter what copy protection is used, at some point it has to be decrypted to be accessed by human senses, and at that point it can be copied.

    That is the risk that is associated with all of us in all of our jobs. We "risk" going to work for a whole month between pay dates on the promise we get paid at the end of it, but if the company goes broke, naturally we wont. Any exchange of goods/services carries risk of loss. Of course people should try to protect their incomes just as workers might act to protect their jobs by belonging to a union. This is an issue that must be solved by market forces, and not the law courts.

    There really are bigger problems for man to solve than this.

  • Comment number 75.

    There are rafts of albums which are out-of-print on CD and thus commercially unavailable.

    If I buy an out-of-print used CD from eBay, does the artist, record company or songwriter receive a portion of my payment? Obviously not. I've paid over £100.00 on more than one occasion for less than an hour of music.

    My first choice for owning music will always be a factory-pressed official disc. Failing that, I'll support the artist by downloading an MP3 from a legal download store. However, if neither option is available, I see no harm in obtaining the music by other means.

    I don't see why the major record labels can't open their vaults and make everything they own available to purchase, in either MP3 or (preferably) FLAC. Surely the cost of renegotiating contracts and encoding the music would be minimal, compared to the revenue generated?

  • Comment number 76.

    typically, there are tons of immature kids trying to jump through semantic hoops to justify theft here. I doubt any of them try to run a business that actually CREATES anything of value that is copyable.
    The sheer ignorance of people who seem to think that music and movies and games are made by space aliens for free, and that nobody suffers if they steal them is just mind blowing, and says a lot about peoples lack on basic intelligence.
    taking someone else's hard work for free is THEFT. I don't give a damn how much you try to dress it up will silly hippy reasoning or arguments about distribution costs. It's not yours, you didn't pay for it, so if you take it, expect to end up in court with a criminal record.

  • Comment number 77.

    Congratulations, your clarification on the 'common' use of the word theft confirms that you are completely unqualified to write on this subject. Do you get paid for this?

  • Comment number 78.

    My favourite band of the moment is a band called Ultraviolet Sound. You can download their entire album for free on their myspace site, basically because at the start of each track is a message stating that each one is sponsored by a company.
    That way, each download remains free and the band make money from the sponsorship from the company.
    Why can't more bands do ti this way? This would iron out all the illegal downloads for the sake of 5 secs extra on a track to have to listen to the sponsorship message. It doesn't bother me having to listen to it!

  • Comment number 79.

    @justinionn I agree entirely. I hate the way record labels and film studios control the flow of content, especially archive content.

    I'd love to purchase old archive stuff at a bitrate of my choosing.

  • Comment number 80.

    What gets me about the whole thing is DRM. I paid over £70 on a certain legitimate UK site that closed down. I have since upgraded my computer and tried to copy the tracks to the new PC. guess what? they won't play because the DRM link associated with them to reinstall the license is gone. I'm out £70.

    so... I 'stole' them (it's not stealing Darren but I went with your term anyhow).

    Here's another DRM issue. My wife owned an IPod, used ITunes a LOT. I convinced her to go with a Zen and ALL of her music is now lost.

    so... I 'stole' those too.

    But, given I paid already for the track, who, dear Darren, is stealing from whom when I can no longer use it due to their sloppy encoding?

  • Comment number 81.

    How many of the muppets who are arguing about the definition stealing on here are the same people who rant and complain and moan like anything when politicians try the same trick?
    Its not a 'war' but a 'conflict' right? Its not internment, its 'detention without trial'.

    If you take something thats for sale and you didn't pay for it, you are not only a Thief, but you are leeching off the goodwill and honesty of the law-abiding majority.

    In short, you are a morally bankrupt, thieving leech.

    The kiddies moaning about music costing too much should go buy a guitar and flipping write their own.

  • Comment number 82.

    @Paul Freeman Powell's Joe Bloggs scenario.
    It seems to me it may be more like this:

    1. Joe Bloggs is 24 and a music obsessive. He downloads lots of obscure bands, and gets into some. He buys their CDs, even getting them sent from far corners of the world.

    He spends more money becuase of free downloads, but either with small labels, or on back catalogue or low run stuff. No economy of scale for the record companies.

    Profit for major labels: small.

    2. Jane Bloggs likes Kylie and Madonna, but is only 15, and hasn't much money to spend. She used to buy maybe 3-4 albums a year. Ones that were pushed by the music biz, and which have economy of scale behind them.

    She now downloads them all for free.

    Profit for the record company: minus £40.

    The music business make their money from the Jane Bloggs of this world, and losing them has caused their current woes.

    The Joe Bloggs types often moan about how they spend more these days, and how they have discovered music they wouldn't have heard otherwise is beside the point. The biz doesn't care - the major labels want everyone to like the same few artists. Having to stock vast numbers of small interest groups is not profitable.

  • Comment number 83.

    Dear Susan King,

    I'm not trying to justify anything here, I take games off t'internet for free when you have to pay for them in the shop, I do the same with music.

    You pay for them probably like the majority of people, I don't pay for them. That's the way it is. It may be theft, it may not be theft, I don't really care. It is free for me, and it does not hurt anyone ( I would use a FACT statement here if it wasn't such a idiotic thing to do)

    Cheers for now, I'm off to look for DVD rips of Kung Fu Panda, would check out the new Coldplay album too if there weren't so awful.

  • Comment number 84.

    "I'd love to purchase old archive stuff at a bitrate of my choosing."

    I'd like to buy a purple ferrari, but they don't make one. Doesn't mean I'm justified in stealing a red ones does it?

    The lack of basic intelligence here is mind boggling.

  • Comment number 85.

    "and it does not hurt anyone ("


    You are a thief, pure and simple, nothing better than that. I hope people like you get what's coming to you, friends of mine in the games industry would happily see thieves like you in a prison cell, and I don't blame them.
    Grow out of this child like sense of entitlement you ave developed.

  • Comment number 86.

    Dear Susan King

    "It's not yours, you didn't pay for it, so if you take it, expect to end up in court with a criminal record."

    As has been pointed out, copyright infringement is a civil, not a criminal matter. You can't "end up with a criminal record"...

    If you're going to get so pious, I suggest you understand what you're ranting about first. ;)

  • Comment number 87.


    "If you want music - pay for it."

    No, thank you. I'll listen to music which I can obtain freely (quite legally, I might add). I will deliberately avoid paying any middleman for music up to the point where they stop pretending that their customers are criminals.

    To clarify - I have no problem remunerating an artist for their work - I paid for In Rainbows, I paid for NIN Ghosts, and myself and my wife quite often pay artists directly when we find something we enjoy via other channels such as myspace music, Pandora, or your excellent suggestion of Last.FM. However - the act of listening to music and the act of paying for it should not be explicitly tied together as though that's the only state of existence.

    I honestly hope you're not suggesting that listening to music is wrong - and if it's right (and as you acknowledge, it's not stealing) then why does the delivery mechanism to your ears matter so much to you? Have you never enjoyed a whistle or singing a song yourself? have you never played a tune on an instrument?

    Music and money are two different things - stop pretending that they have to come in a single shrink-wrapped package, and stop perpetuating the fallacy that listening to someone's music is somehow theft just because you didn't hear it on the radio.

  • Comment number 88.

    Despite the update you posted, the difference between stealing and copyright infringement is vast.

    If I walk into the National Gallery and take a photograph of a painting, that's copyright infringement.

    If I take a the poster of the same painting from the gallery shop without paying, that's stealing.

    Can you really not see the difference here?

    And yes, copyright infringement is a crime, and no, I don't have a problem with people doing it anyway. If I fix my mate's computer and he gives me 50 quid for my trouble, and I fail to inform the inland revenue, that is a crime. That's tax evasion. I don't have a problem with that, either.

    No-one really cares if people fail to disclose minor, occasional sources of income. No-one should care if people commit minor, occasional copyright infringement. Neither are serious, and the music industry should just shut up about it.

  • Comment number 89.


    You are absolutely spot on mate. Without revenue from record sales, companies won't take risks. Without taking risks companies won't find the new acts and promote them. Without promotion you can't get fans. Without fans you can't get people to concerts.

    "Oh everything's on myspace these days" - it's not.

    Right now I'm in an unsigned band, yes we're on myspace. Because we're the same side of 30 as most of the people who spend money on music, we aren't going to get signed any time soon. Are we any good? We're good enough to be playing a support slot at Dingwalls tonight for Britpop legends Dodgy - a support slot I managed to get without an agent simply on the strength of the relationship I've built with the venue doing free gigs and open mic gigs. And also because the venue believe in the music I'm making. I'm working like a trojan to get a gig that most bands with management just see as "an ordinary night" - that's the difference. Because the music industry is dying on it's backside it will take the easy money - the cute 20 year-old with the soulful voice rather than a bunch of guys making catchy tunes and doing it the "slow" way. Will it stop us? no. But it will slow us down. Without promotion, as you say, no-one hears what we're doing so there can be no sales - either ticket sales or album sales, so no promoter, or agent, or manager, or record company will take a chance on us.

  • Comment number 90.

    Actually the games industry is the one of the big 4 (games, movie, TV and music) that have actually got something decent up and running, steam anyone?

  • Comment number 91.

    @Susan King.

    Did you not see the crucial word I used. "Purchase".

    I'd love to purchase music from the archive at a bitrate of my choosing. Not rip it off!

  • Comment number 92.

    Your zero tolerance stance is what has got everybody in the mess we are in. I have about 500 pieces of vinyl, as well as the same number of albums on cd. Let's have a rough guess at 10000 pounds worth of music. That's more than I ever spent on anything apart from my flat. I have the entire back catalog of many bands, sometimes in more that one format, (I didn't include all the tapes I bought that got chewed up). So when loaded my player with the mp3s of tunes i own of a certain band the other day that I've blown hundreds and hundreds on, I felt pretty justified.

    And I'm certainly not forking out any more on an album I've bought 3 times already to have it in a format where the quality is actually worse that the ones I have.

    Your analogies are awful too. It's nothing like pinching a car for half an hour at all. I didn't deny anybody the use, ownership or ability to sell what they had. You are comparing "replayability of a sound" to "physical ownership of something that is yours that no one else can have" which is nonsense.

    What else? Well I don't see the record companies taking all their freely available videos off you tube, do you? You can hear what you want when you want. So they have a two tier stance which cheapens their argument by some margin. Plus there are so many internet radio stations that you can practically here what you want anyway. As well as the fact they give away all sorts of music to the Daily Mail brigade every Sunday. I spent money on some of that!

    Finally the person who mentioned it's ones own fault for not protecting their wireless network you really need to learn more about computers and hackers before talking like this. If you think having to type bob123 is enough to protect your wireless network you should turn it off.

  • Comment number 93.

    Susan, there is no need to become hostile, accuse people of things they may or may not be this is an open blog and I'm sure the people here welcome open discussion about such matters, but calling people thieves and commenting on how you would like to see them in a prison cell is hardly discussing a matter it's labeling people who you don't know guilty of something they may not have done.

    Also, as already stated before, Copyright infringement is a civil case unless it's done for commercial gain, which means nobody can be sent to jail.

    I'd suggest you calm down a little and try and make your point in a more rational manner, preferably without assuming everyone posting here is a thief!

  • Comment number 94.

    Susan King said:

    "The lack of basic intelligence here is mind boggling."

    Yes, you really should stop posting, dear!


  • Comment number 95.

    The music industry has destroyed e-commerce as a viable concept by using DRM in their online products. If Borders or Waterstones sold me a book for £9.99 but then came to reclaim the book after 30 days, or when I tried to move house, I would NEVER shop at those stores again. Many consumers feel this way about iTunes and other DRM-infested services.

    "Home taping is illegal" didn't deter teenagers from sharing their music in the eighties, so I wouldn't expect these scare tactics to work now. People would be better off leaving Virgin anyway, as their service is renowned to be sub-par.

    The exchange of creative ideas sustains contemporary culture; this culture of art, music and literature is part of what defines modern "civilisation"; artists are entitled to earn a living by fulfilling their vocation, but the majority of music revenue passes the artist by and goes back into the record "industry".

    How the music industry makes money is ultimately the responsibility of the music industry. If, by securing its commercial longevity, this industry is allowed to strangle the free exchange of ideas, then it is, IMHO, a backwards step for "civilisation".

    There is an opportunity now to embrace and exploit a new, highly efficient method for disseminating information and ideas. There may be some financial injuries sustained along the way, but, with a little vision and faith, we may find that file-sharing networks could open up a great cultural future for all involved.

  • Comment number 96.


    You think I'm a thief, That's your opinion etc etc. I don't think I'm a thief.

    Your friends in the gaming industry do have bills to pay, and the majority of people buy games, music cds so there you go it pays their bills. People like you pay their bills, I would say people like me are in the minority. And surely you don't think you friends will get a pay rise if I (and others too of course) start buying all the games cds movies.......... the men at the top will get more money, no one else.

  • Comment number 97.

    Everybody has missed the massive irony in this, which is that if you want to avoid the BPI letters, and you're a Virgin Media customer, they are offering an easy way to avoid being caught.

    Simply ditch the peer to peer (bittorrent, edonkey etc) and get yourself onto the Virgin Media newsgroup (usenet) servers. Plenty of copyright material to be had there.

    Will VM be cutting themselves off from the Internet for making copyright material available?

  • Comment number 98.

    Copying music isn't stealing, anymore than taping Eastenders is stealing. If you walked into the studio and physically lifted the master tape, THAT would be stealing music. It's not semantics.

    I don't download music, BUT for example: I have a huge vinyl collection. If I wanted some of that music on my iPod, I would download it. I've already paid a "licence" for that album, format is irrelevant. The trouble with the industry is that they see each new increase in technology as dollar signs: you buy the tape, you buy the vinyl, you buy the cd, you buy mp3 on and on. Obviously, this is fantastic for the industry, but not for consumers.

    If you walked into a shop and stole a cd, that is slightly different. It costs money for physical packaging, for transportation etc. What does an mp3 cost? a fraction of a pence on bandwidth. So why does an mp3 album cost almost the same as a cd album? What is the consumer paying for, exactly?

    The problem seems to be not that "home taping is killing the music industry" (remember that?) but that society as a whole is waking up to the practices that have ripped them off for so long. If the industry changes, people will accept it. If the industry holds on to its old model, against cultural shifts, it is fighting a losing battle.

  • Comment number 99.

    When I can obtain a copy of something myself - but am instead forced to obtain it via someone for a fee, isn't that extortion?

    Their business model doesn't work, and they should face it.

    But then, I think all copyright and IP etc. needs to disappear - it's all extortion and bad business models.


  • Comment number 100.

    I have proof that making stuff available for download free and without any restrictions actually increases the profits of the creators of that content., a book publisher, has loads of books available free to download (including New York Times best-selling authors). They actually include CDs full of electronic copies of books with hardbacks they sell and encourage readers to copy the CDs and give them to friends.

    The authors that take part have publicly acknowledged that their royalties have shot up as soon as their books became available legally for free.

    Their logic is simple, no one has ever handed a book to a friend with the words "read this it's awful". Every book that's out there is free publicity for the author. The next book that comes out will be bought, maybe even back catalogue books. If someone reads it and doesn't like it, no loss, they'd probably never have bought it anyway, but because it was free, people will give them a try, it doesn't cost them after all, and they might just turn out to like the author and then they'll start spending money.

    There will always be people that just take, but most people want their favourite authors to keep writing, so they pay even if they don't have to.

    The model works, the music industry is just too narrow minded to see that and in the process they are alienating the wrong people. Those that are never prepared to pay are a lost cause and don't care what the music industry and others do, no level of adverts, abuse and "measures" will deter them. All the while those measures are making life difficult for the honest people.

    And when it comes down to it, if a musician or author isn't good enough that people are prepared to pay to support them, then that should be a big enough hint that they should be doing something else.


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