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Digital Piracy In The Music Industry

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The prevalent practice of piracy over the Internet creates serious harm to creators and artists, both famous and struggling. With the continuous expansion of modern technology, access to the Internet has become much more advanced. Similarly, thousands of available websites enable people to easily download songs of various formats. Instead of actually purchasing an artist’s album, a listener can simply download the song and listen to it over and over again. To a listener, this practice may not be as harmful as they think it would be. But to the people behind the song, specifically the recording studios or labels and/or publishing companies, this could have adverse effects to one’s career.

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The music industry considers digital piracy as one of the causes for the decline in its sales. Presently, the practice of stream-ripping has become the new form of digital piracy. What stream-ripping does is that it enables a person to illegally download songs which are played through the music-streaming technologies. This brings us to the need of examining the existing laws in the Philippines focusing on one’s intellectual property rights, specifically in the field of music, and taking into consideration how the digital world makes it easier for anybody using the Internet to access music of own choice.

The time, effort, and money expended in producing a new album – from the composition, to the recording, production, and sale – could have been more compensated if listeners would purchase the album instead of illegally downloading the songs online. But who could blame them, when technology has given them a seemingly easier and more convenient alternative? Every song downloaded and shared illegally constitutes a loss to the profit which the artists could have earned. With the introduction of legitimate music platforms such as the music-streaming technologies, consumers are now able to listen to music without resorting to piracy. Music-streaming technologies are services which enable a music consumer to acquire musical works online though subscriptions or paid-advertisements.

At present, sales of physical CDs have declined while digital sales have increased rapidly in most markets. The advancement of technology attempts to create a solution to a problem created by technology itself. There is therefore a need to examine the effects of music-streaming technologies to the music artists; hence, the need for this study.

Existing studies in relation to this topic have only dealt with the effects of digital piracy and music-streaming as a whole. So far, there has been no study yet which highlights the role of local artists in the music industry. This study focuses more on the perspective of Visayan artists since these local artists are starting to create a name in the music industry through the introduction of Visayan songs which have also become a hit to the public. Hence, these local artists have proven themselves to be as efficient contributors in the music industry as the national artists. Consequently, promotion of these local artists also contributes to the economic status of the country.

This study therefore endeavors to analyze whether or not the present copyright laws in the Philippines, specifically Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines”, including its amendment Republic Act No. 10372 introducing technological measures, are already adequate to respond to the contemporary challenges brought about by the advancement of modern technology to copyright ownership. Also, this study will address the level of awareness of the public with regard to copyright ownership.

At present, the Philippines does not have a law that specifically prohibits illegal downloading of music. One reason could probably be the difficulty of regulating and enforcing the same due to its changing nature. The existing Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175) and Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8293) and its amendment, Republic Act No. 10372, do not provide for definite penalties with regard to digital piracy of music. In addition, there has been no easier alternative just yet, other than music-streaming technologies which enable consumers to listen to songs without committing digital piracy. Therefore, a win-win solution for the parties involved is achieved.

03 December 2019

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