Music Piracy is considered a key threat to the continued development of the global music industry and investment in creators. The ways in which music piracy occurs changes every day with the evolution of technology and continues to be very damaging. It is a flexible term, with many variations falling under its umbrella and can be hard to define and equally difficult to quantify.
There has been tremendous growth in the ability to access the music industry online, with digital services like Spotify giving a creator’s content and consumers the ease and ability to reach each other at a rapid rate. Of course, music piracy threatens this growth by having to compete with all the ways a consumer can access this content illegally, for free.
Digital and Mobile Music Piracy has become one of the most damaging form of piracy to the music industry, in recent years, even though later is yet to be properly quantified. It weakens the licensed music business across many forms and channels.
Attempts continue to be made by the Government to enforce the law, and the music industry attempts to be proactive in working with different sectors with mediums that could be used for piracy. However, it is still a work in progress and will take a while to have the desired effect.
When striving to become a part of the music industry, it’s important to educate yourself on all challenges that creators face. Music Piracy affects almost all creators so we have given you some information and laid out the law for you!
What is Music Piracy?
Although there are varying definitions, put simply, music piracy is the illegal copying or downloading (or duplication) of music without the consent of the recording artist, composer or recording company releasing the piece of music.
Illegal Music Downloads
Downloading music directly to your computer, mobile phone or music media player is now as popular as buying CDs over the counter. There is a plethora of options available for all types of people, be it those who just want one track, those who might want access to a whole album, or those who want a range of tracks and are willing to pay a small monthly fee for this. With most of the world purchasing smart phones and tablets which allow access to this at the touch of a button, it’s hardly surprising consuming media in this way has become so popular.
With this, the ability to access illegal content online has become much easier too and comes in many forms: unlicensed streaming websites, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks, cyberblockers and aggregators, unlicensed streaming and stream ripping and mobile applications.
Although file sharing or peer to peer (P2P) networks can be used legally to share photos, music and video files, any download of a song for free is illegal, as they'll be copyrighted.
A CD that has been purchased can be lent to friends if they want to listen to it. However, it's illegal to make copies of CDs and distribute them to anyone or to sell pirate copies of CDs for a profit.
Whilst the flurry of debate around online piracy may grab the news headlines, copying CDs is still a strong focus of the music industry's anti-piracy efforts.
There are three different types of illegally copied CDs:
Recordings of live performances - either of a concert or a broadcast - made without the permission of the artist.
Replicas of legitimate recordings including packaging and graphics.
Duplicates of original sound recordings, which are then marketed on other labels with different packaging and graphics.
What does the Law say?
In the UK, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Digital Economy Act 2010 are applicable to and may be breached by piracy activity.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 gives creators the right to control the way in which their material is used. The rights cover: Broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copiers to the public. Piracy directly violate this act when the copyright owner has not given permission for their material to be shared or distributed.
Read the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 here
Amongst other legislation, The Digital Economy Act 2010 created procedures for dealing with online copyright infringement, gave the state the power to instruct ISPs to impose technical measure on infringers and increased the penalty for online copyright infringement up to a maximum of £50,000.
Unfortunately, due to the difficulty in monitoring, preventing and enforcing piracy laws, the issue continues to run rampant. Despite there being laws put in place to protect creators against piracy, the authorities are still trying to figure out ways to enforce the laws without treading on human rights, privacy laws and the like.
The industry is responding not with a single strategy, but with a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach. It includes: consumer education on copyright and the value of music; working with law enforcement agencies to tackle online piracy; litigation against online pirate services; and engaging with policymakers and legislators worldwide to create an environment in which the music sector can grow. The industry is also working with online stores to remove infringing apps and to ensure that apps cannot access illegal websites.
In addition to this, throughout the UK, there are a network of Regional Investigators working with local authorities to crack down on the sale of counterfeit music CDs, DVDs and other merchandise which costs the industry more than £100 million each year.
BPI, showing their commitment to tackling this worldwide issue, launched the BPI Anti-Piracy Unit which engages with local Police forces and Trading Standards to crack down on the supply and sale of counterfeit goods and work with many partners across the UK.
As you can see, there is a lot of collective effort going in to protecting creators and their works. Let’s hope that in few years, we see a vast improvement and money going back to the creators’ pockets… where it should be!