peer to peer vs itunes

peer to peer sharing: illegal?

image by Tarleton State University

This week’s theme is about the dying music industry and the prosperity of peer to peer sharing, or you may know it as the Napster, Kazaa, Frostwire, Gnutella, and many more softwares. After reading and doing some research on this topic, I have concluded several things that may seem weird, but I believe that it is not the end of the music industry.

what is p2p? for those of you who don’t know, please watch this video, it really helps!

alternatively, watch video here

Yes, we can see the proof everywhere: people are more willing to download songs from the internet rather than going to a CD shop and browse for music. Now, when internet makes everything possible, we can sit down while sipping tea in our own rooms and just browse the particular song that we want to listen. It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s the lifestyle of most teenagers now. The question is, is music industry dying?

I want to reason this: it is not dying. From my reading “If I Had a Song: The Culture of Digital Community Networks and Its Impact on the Music Industry” by Hughes and Lang (2003), although we all prosper from peer to peer sharing, it’s still exploiting the intellectual properties and thus illegal. Furthermore, the quality of peer to peer shared music is now being questioned: there are so many options for downloading just one song, which one is the original? which artist sings the song? is the quality good? or is there spam included in the song? Throughout my experience, I have downloaded several spam songs which have the titles of the songs that I would like to download. Hence, its reliability and credibility are questioned.

Not only that, Casadesus-Masanell, & Hervas-Drane (2010) argue that if music industry is willing to revise its strategy in approaching the market, it will be able to surpass peer to peer sharing. For example iTunes, this legal online store for buying songs are ‘selling’ each song for $0.99 in US. And it prospers! People are willing to pay, if the price is considerable and matches the values offered (i.e. the quality of song, etc). Not only that, this gives alternative for downloading your favorite song instead of buying the whole CD in a retail shop. The point with CD is, we often only like 2 or 3 songs in a CD and feel it’s such a waste to pay $20 for the 12 songs offered.

Other than that, the paper also conveys that peer to peer music sharing is dedicated for people who are really willing to share and contribute their resources. Most people (around 70% of Gnutella users) are free-riders, meaning: they only taking some stuffs out that do not contribute towards the community (Casadesus-Masanell & Hervas-Drane, 2010: 337). This is one other reason why peer to peer sharing (in the long run) may eventually die, although it is unlikely to die in another decade.

We may not be aware of peer to peer music sharing illegality (perhaps due to the intangibility of the ‘songs downloaded’ themselves), but the choice is still in our hands. I’m not saying that we NEED to ban peer to peer music sharing, it still has some positives. But I guess presented with this knowledge, it may make us think twice of our actions.

References:

Casadesus-Masanell, R. & Hervas-Drane, A. (2010) ‘Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and The Market for Digital Information Goods’, Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 19 (2): 333-373.

Hughes, J. & Lang, K. R. (2003) ‘If I Had a Song: The Culture of Digital Community Networks and Its Impact on The Music Industry’, The International Journal on Media Management, 5 (3): 180-189.

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