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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.   What is music piracy?
Q.   How much damage does music piracy do?
Q.   What is online piracy?
Q.   How much is the music industry losing to online piracy?
Q.   Who gets hurt by music piracy?
Q.   What do pirates copy?
Q.   If bootlegs arenít released into the market and consumers canít get a live concert recording otherwise, there are no displaced sales. Why is that considered piracy?
Q.   Is "sampling" considered piracy?
Q.   How can you tell if a CD is counterfeit or pirated?
Q.   What is a CD-Recordable and how can you tell the difference?


Q.   What is music piracy?
A.   The general term "piracy" refers to the illegal duplication and distribution of sound recordings and includes four specific forms:

Pirate recordings are the unauthorized duplications of only the sound of legitimate recordings. The packaging may not duplicate the original art, label, title, sequencing, combination of titles etc.

Bootleg recordings are the unauthorized recordings of a musical broadcast on radio or television or of a live concert -- also known as underground recordings.

Counterfeit recordings are unauthorized recordings of the prerecorded sound as well as the unauthorized duplication of original artwork, label, trademark and packaging.

Online piracy refers to the unauthorized download of sound recordings from Internet sites. Downloading even one song onto a PC is piracy, even if it isnít resold.

Q.   How much damage does music piracy do?
A.   The industry loses about $5 billion every year to piracy worldwide -- $1 million a day in the United States alone. (These figures only include physical product.)

Q.   What is online piracy?
A.   Itís playing or downloading from the Internet songs and lyrics without getting authorization to, and without compensating the artists. Unauthorized Internet music archive sites using MIDI technology or MP3 files provide illegal sound recordings online to anyone for downloading into a personal computer. They are often then reproduced and played indefinitely without compensation to the artists.

Q.   How much is the music industry losing to online piracy?
A.   Currently, RIAA is only able to provide anecdotal information of losses to the industry based on evidence uncovered in the discovery phase of their past litigation against illegal music archive sites using MP3 technology.

Q.   Who gets hurt by music piracy?
A.   Consumers lose: Piracy drives up the price of legitimate recordings. The sound and materials of pirated music are also often of a poor quality, and the product canít be returned.
Artists, musicians, songwriters and producers lose: They donít get the royalties and fees theyíve earned -- and 95% of all artists depend on fees to make a living. Their reputations also suffer when the fakes are of poor quality.
Retailers and distributors lose: Their prices canít compete with those of illegal vendors, which means less business and fewer jobs.
Record companies lose: 85% of all the recordings issued donít even make back their costs. Record companies rely on the remaining 15% of recordings that are successful to subsidize less profitable types of music, to cover the costs of developing new artists and to keep their businesses operational.

Q.   What do pirates copy?
A.   The hits. The illegal marketplace copycats the legitimate market. Whatís at the top of the charts is whatís on the piratesí Top 100.

Q.   If bootlegs arenít released into the market and consumers canít get a live concert recording otherwise, there are no displaced sales. Why is that considered piracy?
A.   Bootleg recordings do compete with previously released recordings. But more importantly, performers deserve (and legally retain) the right to control the content, reproduction and distribution of their own performances.

Q.   Is "sampling" considered piracy?
A.   Sampling describes two separate uses of recorded music. In the first, an artist uses a sample of another song -- often a familiar song by another performer -- to provide musical material for their own composition. In the second, a consumer downloads a portion of recorded music. Sampling is considered piracy; therefore, radio and nightclub disc jockeys along with other "samplers" are not exempt from copyright laws. Each song they use must be authorized- even if the CD is made by a legitimate manufacturer.

Q.   How can you tell if a CD is counterfeit or pirated?
A.   
Check these seven points:

  1. The packaging has blurry graphics, weak or bad color.
  2. The package or disc has misspelled words.
  3. The price is often way below retail value.
  4. Youíre buying it not in a store but at a flea market, from a street vendor, at a swap meet, or in a concert parking lot.
  5. The record label is missing or itís a company youíve never heard of.
  6. It has cheaply made insert cards, often without liner notes or multiple folds.
  7. The sound quality is poor.

Q.   What is a CD-Recordable and how can you tell the difference?
A.   With the new problem of CD-Recordables or CD-Rs, which cost only $400 for the hardware and $1 for a blank disc, RIAA has confiscated 23,858 illegal CD-Rs, as opposed to 87 in the same period last year. But, CD-Rs are easy to spot. These CDs are typically gold on one side with a greenish tint on the non-graphic or "read-only" side. Major record companies generally do not release products in this format, so consumers can be aware of the illicit recordings.

Main Source: http://www.riaa.org/


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Last Update: April 5, 2000