Even a decade before no one would have foreseen the magnitude of the impact that social media has brought on the way music is delivered to enthusiasts. The change was visible to some extent even during the days of personal computers and laptops, and further compounded when fast internet connectivity became a reality.
The Internet revolution made dissemination of information and news on music an up to minute affair. People nowadays don’t depend on the print media and that is because blogs/social media have taken over their function.
That everything is delivered to readers fast and in no time sounds good, but along came piracy on a massive scale, and that social media fuelled it to unforeseen levels is not deniable. With millions of users using social media to exchange and download media on peer to peer networks, and social media users exploding and growing at mind blogging speed, the future of music industry itself has come under severe strain. The overall impact is there for every one of us to see with producers now spending more of their time fighting against piracy.
Dealing with music piracy is getting tougher and the biggest harbinger is the consumers themselves. Surveys show that 46% of all adults consciously downloaded TV, music and movies even as they were fully aware of its illegality. The figures for those in the 18-29 group is 70% and above indicating the rampancy of the problem. At the core of the problem, undeniably is the problem associated with the attitude of those who patronize piracy which has undoubtedly entrenched itself deeply.
Cyber laws around the world are being changed to fight against the onslaught of music piracy in particular but the results don’t seem to be showing up with more sites abetting piracy. Even within the US the government has been considering laws on anti piracy with some provisions showing to be highly controversial. It is understood that the war on piracy is now shifting toward search engines and even internet service providers, even though they are not directly connected with piracy as such. However the most discussed issue is why lawmakers still don’t see users as the main offenders.
While the fight against music piracy mounts, what perplexes most legalist is why content providers won’t innovate to stall piracy. Search engines and internet companies it seems are at the receiving end in what is essential out of their domain. By putting the onus of preventing piracy on them, the law is unwittingly asking them to police as well, which they consider as unfair and too taxing for them. It can mean hurdles for legitimates music downloads, people of the new generation argue. No doubt, internet companies are fighting a proposed anti piracy law tooth and nail.
Surprisingly, surveys also show that the younger generation does not expect music and movies to be available for free. What they want is a fair playing ground for all stake holders and a reasonable pricing policy, which producers don’t seem to accept. The survey further finds that illegal music downloads from social media is directly related to family income. The lesser the income, more likely is the possibility of requesting and getting an illegal content. All that points to what the student community has all along been advocating; bring down prices to fight music piracy through social media. However, the mandarins at the helm, it appears, are not reading the writings on the wall.
Since the student community forms the core group that patronizes pirated music on unprecedented levels, those in the know of thing are advocating a policy of giving selected discounts to students. That they say can be routed through colleges to give it a semblance of legal authority. There is also a proposal for distributing music through universities and college. But the question is, will the student community really pay for something that is available for free, especially when the culture of piracy is deeply ingrained in their psyche? Ultimately it is a question of how much one can be successful when it comes to convincing people to pay for something that can be readily availed by paying nothing on the social media.
Claims for damages from producers and copyright owners keep mounting day by day and when courts begin to hear cases, the biggest problem that they encounter is how to calculate the actual cost in monetary terms. It is not infrequent to see unrealistic claims that run into millions of dollars. Punitive actions on social media can ultimately lead to their demise itself without having any impact on piracy by itself. There are still a lot of venues, like privately owned websites, where music can be illegally distributed easily. Social media don’t in principle support piracy as such, and that is the silver lining to an otherwise dim forecast. Chances are that the music industry and social media will one day sit face to face and sort out issues to keep pirates away.