South students examine piracy, question the purpose

Ivy Zhou, Staff Reporter

Fast, easy, and cheap. In the internet age, virtually anything is available online. With media increasingly going digital, concern about online piracy is also on the rise. It only takes a few clicks and then people can download hundreds of dollars of work for free.

A recent Oracle survey revealed that 39 percent of South students have pirated some sort of media, whether it be books, movies or music. Junior Sasha Walsh* says she downloads on average 60 songs a month illegally.

“Personally, I don’t think people should have to pay for music,” Walsh said. “I think it’s one of those things that you should be able to listen to if you want. You shouldn’t have to pay a dollar thirty for every song you want to buy on iTunes.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the punishment for music piracy, whether it be CDs or digital files, is up to $250,000 in fines and up to 5 years in jail. However, Walsh believes that piracy is not an act that should call for incarceration.

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous, because if you look at most of the people who illegally download music, none of them are criminals,” Walsh said. “Like I’ve never committed any extreme crimes, but I guess you could throw me in jail for five years for downloading music.”

According to Senior Emma Holte*, she downloads music more than any other type of media. Using sites like megashare, she can stream most movies online, so she doesn’t need to download them. She uses websites like mp3converter to convert Youtube videos of songs to mp3 files for music.

“I’ll usually [download songs] in bunches of five or something,” Holte said. “It’s really if I’m bored. It’s something to do.”

Other students, like Junior Lauren Yep, have not illegally downloaded media, simply because they haven’t had cause to. According to Yep, sites like Netflix and Spotify make downloading anything unnecessary.

“I don’t even use the music that I do buy as much as I probably could,” Yep said.

Although Yep does not feel the need to pirate music, she says she doesn’t have a problem with it, since many of her friends do pirate various forms of media.

“I don’t really care,” Yep said. “I have friends who pirate movies and stuff, and they keep that on their computers, and I’ll watch with them.”

Streaming websites like Spotify and Pandora allow in-app purchases, and allow users to give songs a test run before making a purchase. These sites still pay artists for their music through their use of ads, and provide students with the opportunity to listen to their favorite music without taking away money from the artist.

“[Piracy] definitely makes it harder for musicians to make money, because they make money off selling their music, so if no one actually buys it then they’re not making money off anything they do,” Yep said.

Junior Mark Galperin believes that although piracy is not a huge issue with music produced by bigger artists, it’s important to purchase music by artists who are just starting off to help them.

“I feel like [piracy] definitely takes out support and creates a culture that takes music for granted as like a free thing that’s always there,”  Galperin said.


*Names have been changed