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Point-Counterpoint: Downloading free music

By Caitlin Hall and Jason Poreda
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 4, 2003

Music pirating hurts everyone

Pirating: Say it out loud. Was ever such a comprehensive analogy so cleverly bound? There is, after all, no symbol so apt to sum up the modern day KaZaA-goer.

On the one hand, music downloaders are thieves, plain and simple. And we can all agree that filching the product of someone else's effort is wrong ÷ at least in the abstract.

Caitlin Hall

How quickly abstractions yield, however, to more palpable ÷ albeit digital ÷ temptations. As is turns out, downloaders aren't just stealing · they're stealing from the rich. And in so doing, they elicit undue sympathy ÷ because even the morally bankrupt underdog is the favorite in the fight.

So here's the situation: Our swashbuckling pseudo-heroes are marauding across the virtual landscape, amassing bootlegged booty at a jaw-dropping, sale-stopping rate. Deep ÷way deep ÷ down, the ravaged relic of a conscience tells us they deserve to be caught. Only problem is, we have trouble rooting for someone we find so much more detestable: the wealthy.

Here we arrive at the crux of the matter: Is it worse to be wrong, or rich? The answer to that question is the best indicator of whether our moral compass is functioning properly ÷ and it had better be, given that it's our only instrument with which to navigate the rough waters of intellectual and economic envy.

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez

After all, that's what this debate boils down to: downloaders feel that they are unable to afford the asking price for music, and that record companies can afford to essentially give it away. Downloaders need what labels and artists can produce, and ÷ in their minds ÷ that entitles them to take it.

What music pirates fail to realize, however, is that by hijacking the ship of someone else's talent, they lay claim to far more than the cargo on board. Every time they double-click on a file name, they are asserting the right to the mind, the money and the ability of the person who produced that seemingly trivial sound byte.

For that reason, the true spoils of the pirating battle are those of spoiled potential.

When those who are able to produce recognize that their effort isn't valued ÷ and the only index of value in a market economy is revenue ÷ they lose the impetus to offer the product of their labor. When that happens, everyone ÷ freeloading downloaders included ÷ loses along with them.

Caitlin Hall is a biochemistry and philosophy junior. She can be reached at

The future of music is file sharing

Watch out everyone: If the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gets its way, you can kiss the happy days of sampling your favorite music over the internet goodbye. If they could, the RIAA would force everyone to wear exploding collars that detonate when they detect any of this "illegal" music, thus slowly eliminating innocent computer users and music lovers everywhere.

Jason Poreda

Although file sharing has been around for decades, high speed internet and programs like KaZaA, Napster and Morpheus have made it easier then ever before to download coveted songs and anything else you can think of. This is why the RIAA is cracking down and trying to correct what it says is costing the recording industry billions of dollars per year.

It has targeted those criminal masterminds whose terrible offence is listening to music. It is forcing universities, including the UA, to hand over the names of students cunning and daring enough to ÷ gasp ÷ listen to a new song and, even worse, share it with friends.

Does this sound hilariously stupid to anyone else? I'm not a business major, nor do I claim to have savvy business know-how, but it doesn't take Donald Trump to figure out the RIAA is stuck in another decade when records ruled. Now computers rule. They need to wake up to today's technology and welcome it with open arms, instead of undertaking a futile witch-hunt against those consumers who could drive their industry.

Word of mouth has always been the best way for new band to get big quick or to spread already popular music to new areas. File sharing is merely an extension of this process. Instead of telling your buddies about a great band you just heard, you can share it with them, no matter where they are in the world. What a novel and wonderful idea that is; it's a wonder that the RIAA doesn't agree.

Don't let them fool you! You know what you want, and it's not records and eight-track tapes! Fight for the future and continue to download with gusto. Keep using your mp3 players and burned CDs. Don't give in!

Jason Poreda is a political science and communication senior. He can be reached at

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