(as promised, I am putting up Assignment 2 for Critical Thinking and Writing. Let's hope I did score the second highest in class so that Rizwan won't feel that bad. Oopz by posting it here will my turnitin skyrocket to 100%? Anyway Ruben's article can be found at http://www.macopinion.com/columns/curmudgeon/99/01/28.html )
In the article "In Defense of Piracy (Well, Some Piracy)", Matthew Ruben argues that downloading of Top- 40 singles mp3 is acceptable. He claims that marketing strategy leads us to buy an entire album just because we like one of the songs inside. The writer maintains that it is not ethically wrong in keeping a track in the computer instead of buying the whole album. He views pirating mp3 as a practical way to counter the marketing hype employed. He brings up the practice of selling mp3 singles for download at a nominal fee, but insists that the price should be below one dollar per track. Ruben has spoken from a consumer's angle, but his argument is mainly based on personal views and lacks supporting evidence. This undermines the creditability of his argument.
Ruben claims that the argument for intellectual property rights is high-falutin', but he fails to explain how and why he thinks it is pretentious. Protection of intellectual property is important as it gives "statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations" and promotes "creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development" (WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook 2004) The writer blames marketing hype as the reason why people should turn to piracy, but in fact very few products can be sold using "hype-free" approaches (Isakson, 2003). The writer has repetitively been trying to bring across the idea to readers that there is only one good song in the entire CD. He fails to realize that there are compilation CDs available which include top hits from chart table albums. On top of that there are TV commercials promoting compilation CDs as well. The writer maintains that marketing hype uses the consumers' own desires against themselves. However we need to understand that it is by their own desires that consumers decide to purchase the particular album. There is no obligation that forces consumers to buy CDs against their will. Thus Ruben's blame on marketing hype is not valid.
The writer contradicts himself by saying that buying the CD of music that he likes is the right thing to do, yet at the same time he supports mp3 piracy. Ruben supports the idea of pirating mp3 singles as a way of protest against marketing hype, but piracy of one track from an album is still piracy. As the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry puts it, "virtually everyone dealing with music piracy knows that it is illegal" (IFPI) The writer claims that recording industry makes a large sum of profit through selling music by marketing hype, but he overlooks that piracy "caused some record stores sales to drop by 20% every year" (AFM, 2004) and artists "lose control over their work, their livelihoods, and even the incentive to create more of the music we enjoy." (WIPO) The music industry loses close to $4.2 billion to piracy globally each year. (RIAA, 2003) And as the Recording Industry Association of America puts it, "each sale by a pirate represents a lost legitimate sale, thereby depriving not only the record company of profits, but also the artist, producer, songwriter, publisher, retailer... and the list goes on" (RIAA, 2003)
Ruben maintains that mp3s for sale online should be priced at below $1 per song. But he fails to justify the reason supporting that mp3s price should be pegged at $1. He also claims that selection of mp3s available for sale online is not of the latest release and record companies will charge $5 a song. In actual fact, online mp3 stores offer top chart albums for as low as $0.99 per song at Real.com (http://musicstore.real.com) and 0.79 pounds per song at iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/). This illustrates that Ruben's accusation on the price of online mp3 sale is not valid.
To sum it up, Ruben has based his argument heavily on the assumption that all albums have only one good song in each of them. He also tries to decide what is ethically correct without giving any support to the claim. His argument lacks objectivity as he bases it mainly on personal sentiments on the issue. In trying to promote piracy he shouldn't suggest piracy as a form of protest, as piracy itself is an illegal act. The writer should gather information such as statistical data and observations on the music industry so as to add depth to his argument.References
Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 15, 2005 from: http://www.riaa.com/issues/piracy/default.asp
The World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved September 11, 2005 from: http://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/info_center/digital_age/consumer.htm
Isakson, J. R. (2003). Marketing hype does work if used correctly.
Only Reviews. Retrieved September 11, 2005 from: http://www.onlyreviews.com/newpages/marketinghype.html
Online Music Piracy (2004)
American Federation of Musicians. Retrieved September 11, 2005 from: http://www.afm.org/public/departments/leg_issues_05.php
Why is piracy illegal
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 11, 2005 from: http://www.ifpi.org/site-content/apresources/why_is_piracy_illegal.html
WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use (2004), WIPO Publication No.489 (E) Retrieved September 15, 2005 from: http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/iprm/index.htm