While most teens don't know the laws surrounding illegally downloading music, that isn't enough of a defense if caught with illegal music on your computer. Whenever you connect to the Internet, your IP address is traceable. Downloading illegal music is much like shoplifting a CD and could carry heavy consequences. The music industry loses about $4.2 billion dollars worldwide every year for pirated music and often prosecutes offenders.
Effects On Your Computer
Downloading music from file sharing programs opens your computer up to viruses and security breaches by unwanted websites, adware and spyware. Spyware is virtually impossible to remove, even when file sharing software was uninstalled.
Fines and Prison Time
As of 2007, the Recording Industry Association of America had sued more than 20,000 individuals who downloaded illegal music. Individuals can become part of a civil lawsuit and be held personally liable, regardless of their intention. Repeat offenders can serve up to six years in jail, if convicted, and fines could reach up to $150,000 per download, among other penalties.
Effects on the Music Industry
Most artists live and depend on the royalties they make from the legal sale of their copyrighted material. Illegally downloaded music affects the paychecks of not only artists, but producers, musicians, songwriters and recording engineers. Illegally downloading music also pushes up the cost of CDs for everyone. Even retailers lose because they can't compete with the file sharing software which offers music for free.
The Future of Internet Music
The introduction of iTunes gives the opportunity for consumers to download music legally and for a minimal price. Since the inception of iTunes, illegal downloading has decreased dramatically. Some music companies offer their entire music catalog online for a flat fee with unlimited downloads.