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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

CD Burning is stealing

I'm on the newsmagazine staff at school, and I wrote an editorial on, guess what, CD burning. I figured I should put it here. So without further ado, here goes:

As long as you aren't selling it, it's legal, right? That may have been true when you were in grade school, but we're in the twenty-first century now. It may get you a lesser sentence, but giving your copied and downloaded music away won't keep you on the right side of the law. Burning CD's, dubbed piracy after the late Blackbeard, has become rampant, and is nearly to the state of becoming normal and acceptable. Many times I've heard friends plotting to swap CD's, each burning a copy of the other's, without the least worry of prosecution. Their lack of concern may be justified – very few people are prosecuted for burning CD's, especially in small quantities. But that's not the problem.
The fact that it is illegal just establishes that the government looks down upon it. Despite what some may think, our senators and representatives don't make laws just because they get bored of lighting up their fellow legislators' phones. There are reasons behind the regulations. Not every artist is a Coldplay or U2. According to the RIAA's web site, less than ten percent of albums ever make any money at all. With all the established artists taking a sizeable hunk of that ten percent, that makes it awfully hard to get into the music business, even without piracy. The fact that fans of up-and-coming artists are burning their music instead of buying it doesn’t help matters at all.
As I see it, the problem with burning CD’s isn’t just that it’s illegal. The problem is that it is stealing. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s okay. “Yeah,” you say, “but they’re ripping us off. A CD costs what, two cents, and they’re charging us fifteen bucks!” Not so fast. The CD itself costs practically nothing, yes, but it costs a lot of money to produce a CD.
The money that the artist makes from a CD goes towards paying for their studio, instruments, equipment, salaries, and bills. And it’s not free to come up with the art and layout for the album. They pay someone a lot of money to figure out what the CD case will look like and what it says. They also have to pay thousands in advertising so that the consumer (that’s you) knows that their album actually exists, so that you’ll buy it. And, of course, they don’t just make up songs for fun. They need some kind of payment for coming up with and playing the songs. It’s called a salary, and it really helps out when it comes to living everyday life.
So when you burn a CD, or download songs without paying for them for that matter, you are depriving the person who made the music of their payment for doing so. And if an artist doesn’t get paid, he’s not going to stay in the industry very long, because even if they want to make music and are excellent singers, they can’t support themselves doing what they love to do.

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