Consequences for Downloading Music Illegally

Updated April 17, 2017

While most teens don't know the laws surrounding illegally downloading music, that isn't enough of a defence 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 £2.7 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 £97,500 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 catalogue online for a flat fee with unlimited downloads.

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About the Author

Rosalie King began writing professionally in 2009. She is the author of "The Skin Underneath," a free ebook download, and is currently at work on "White Collar Ghetto." She studied clarinet in college, and has a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Tampa.