Even as media companies lobby for laws against illegal downloading of music, movies, audio books and the like, the world of illegal downloading finds loopholes. Surveys show that there are nearly 20 illegal downloads for every paid or legally downloaded song. Statistics indicate that 46 percent of all adults, including 70 percent of those in the 18-29 year-old demographic, illegally copied or downloaded music, movies or television shows. Long ago, in the era of videotapes, CDs and other physical media, such file sharing was common and not necessarily illegal but now, with content widely available on the internet, it’s more complicated. Illegal downloading is thought to be equivalent to stealing from musicians, actors, writers and all levels of their supporting industries.
In some circles there is an argument that most people would happily pay for copyrighted content. But they would like to see lower prices and other innovations that simplify the process of downloading and sharing. As the argument goes, make it easier and cheaper for legal downloading and illegal downloading will decline – but not disappear completely. The perception is that legal downloading as it is today is not necessarily the easiest thing. You can’t share content across devices, you can’t lend music to your friend for a party, you can’t return it if you have any form of buyer’s remorse, and tech support is an entirely different issue. Apple’s iTunes along with Pandora and Spotify are frequently cited as examples of sound business models for music consumers. But even as copyright experts advocate for innovative thinking and lower prices, content creators argue that it’s a complex issue and there’s too much at stake for such simple solutions.