Should Music be Free?

One of the hotly debated issues these days is whether recorded music should be freely available for listening and download on the internet. The opinions are strongly divided, revolving around questions of whether music should be treated as a commodity, how musicians should be compensated for their work and whether copyright laws are fair. Below you will find summary of the main arguments for and against free music.

Pro

Many people believe that music should be free, and that this would be beneficial both for music fans as well as for musicians themselves, because artist would have more listeners who appreciate their work. On the other hand, musicians could still earn plenty of money from other sources, such as live performances, merchandise, etc, so allowing free music wouldn’t really leave artists without means of subsistence.

Another line of argument stresses that it is wrong to treat music as a commodity. Since music is such an important part of our personal and social lives and our culture, people should not find themselves unable to listen to certain songs or albums just because they can’t afford it.

Copyright laws are not fair to the average citizen who wants to listen to music without having to pay the fortune for it. Also, it’s the matter of principle: do we really want to treat intellectual property as any other kinds of property? And do we want internet to become a place where free content sharing is no longer possible?

Defenders of free music believe that internet file-sharing is just the normal way we are dealing with music, treating it as part of our everyday life that we can freely exchange and enjoy together, not a property that belongs to someone in particular.

Contra

However, there are also convincing arguments against free music.

First of all, file-sharing is not fair to the artists and other people involved in recording music, because producing an album costs a lot of money and because musicians are putting a lot of work, time and effort into it. They should be able to sell the product of their hard work and their property rights should be protected by copyright laws. If you are listening to music without paying for it, you are stealing from the artist.

Furthermore, songs can be bought for just a few cents, and music is already free on radio and YouTube, it doesn’t have to be free everywhere.

Finally, if music should be free, then by the same logic, online books, movies and TV shows, and other types of intellectual property should be freely available on the internet as well. If we think it is OK to pay for these other things, then we should pay for music too.

Conclusion

In the age of internet, the rules are changing. This means that we need to find ways to adapt to the new situation. Perhaps it is impossible to stop file-sharing without regulating the internet too much. Moreover, the internet has made it very convenient for everybody to listen to whatever we want, whenever we want it. Should that convenience be taken away? Wouldn’t it be better to leave things as they are and try to find another way around the problem? Perhaps there is some kind of middle ground? What do you think a solution could be?

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