The characteristic that differentiates bootleggers and music downloaders is that the former usually acknowledge their practices as violations of the laws and regulation regarding the copyright and try hard not to be detected. Generally, these collectors of bootlegged material “recognize their own activities as breaking copyright laws or carrying social connotations of deviance” (Wiest, 2007). Thus, bootlegging is an activity that is more prevalent under the ground and is commonly done in record shops located back street (Wiest, 2007).
Bootlegging on the Internet is increasing day by day and this practice has rather infuriate the record industry. This industry is trying its very best to get rid of the audio/video plagiarism before this illegal practice lessens the earnings of the people associated with the industry. Music lovers post the tracks of their favorite recording artists on the Internet that can be downloaded at a very low price or in many cases, absolutely free (Brown, 1998). However, this whole scenario is not beneficial for the record companies for the reason that a very small number of people go to shops to buy the CDs of their favorite artists.
Yet, in order to fight back this situation, record companies are taking a number of steps. For instance, Geffen Records hired lawyers with the help of whom “more than 100 Internet sites closed down after finding they were used to distribute free copies of copyrighted songs” (Brown, 1998). On the other hand, a number of sites are present on the Internet that offers the users the accessibility to copyrighted material but by illegal means. Thus, whoever has time to spend for downloading finds hundreds of sites on the Internet where free content is available. People prefer downloading from websites because the sounds of digital bootlegs are as good as that of compact discs. As already mentioned, this ease of pirating music in particular is a menacing ache for the record industry (Harris, 2002).
Bootlegging indeed is a serious threat to record industry’s future. This is because now it is so simple as well as inexpensive to make home CDs as there is ample availability of CD-ROM drives with which music CDs can be written and read. However, the use of new CD-ROMs by the fans for copying old songs or making albums of their favorite tracks is not a concern for the record industry. What worries the industry is the unlawful buying and selling of music that is released on a commercial basis. This trading is permissible by the MP3 technology to move around on the Internet. Although, policing of this illegal trade is a difficult task but is not impossible (Brown, 1998).
In general, bootleggers are able to make hundreds and thousands of perfect and faultless copies of a soundtrack or video recording by using cheap and high-speed CD burners. These illegal copies are then sold to street vendors due to which the record companies lose millions of dollars annually as discounted CDs are available for $2.50 minimally. On the other hand, the business of bootlegging is a beneficial one for a lot of hip-hop artists as it facilitates them in ascertaining street credibility. This is because only popular acts are copied by the crooks. Artists are also able get free publicity due to bootlegging practices (Harris, 2002).
Moreover, the bootlegged content also provides help by warning earlier to the streets about the strength of the upcoming content. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people leak their content as a deliberate attempt to get to know what might be the consequences if the whole album would be released (Harris, 2002). Whatever advantages are brought by bootlegging, it must be condemned at every level as it is an illegal act. Although technology was believed to set the human beings free; if truth be told, it has empowered them. However, this empowerment does not mean at all that illegal practices like bootlegging are done to show that liberation (Pattenden, 2003).
Despite its benefits for some artists, bootlegging and leaking of unreleased content/music turned out to be an ever-increasing predicament in the music industry as it has the potential of ruining the living and income of recording artists. It is also a frustrating experience for artists when their music is leaked before its release. Although leaking of music tracks is not a big threat for the livelihood of larger bands, the leakage of music can greatly damage the bands that are new and small. This is because bootlegging of music can leave them out of pocket in a massive manner.
This is why it is necessary for the fans to understand how bootlegging can damage their favorite bands. They should remember that it is good to be enthusiastic about music but at the same time, they must look at the long-term consequences of bootlegging for their favorite bands/artists (Williams, 2011). The careers of bands and artists experience a financial jeopardy with the leakage, sharing and unlawful downloading of content. Bootlegging is a nuisance for the reason that “musicians aren't earning money from their material, so the labels aren't making any money, meaning there is less marketing and development spending, meaning new talent is being fostered less and less, creating a stagnant industry” (Williams, 2011) that is not needed by anybody.
As far as detection and enforcement of bootlegging is concerned, it is a difficult task as there are no stridently clear restrictions with which the Internet is governed. In addition, the majority of online users are not usually aware of copyright and its significance (Blunt, 1999). According to a survey, “consumers simply do not see bootlegged movies as illegal or morally wrong, perhaps because of the ease and anonymity of Internet downloads and the widespread consumer acceptance of obtaining fake movies” (Riley, 2011). On the other hand, those who are aware of the rules and regulations regarding copyrighted material do not discontinue the use of the Internet technology for swapping sound recordings with other users owing to the fact that the thought of getting caught by the authorities does not frighten them. This fearlessness owes to the fact that there are no definite ways to catch such culprits (Blunt, 1999).
Therefore, to put an end to this practice of bootlegging through using Internet websites, the Internet access and online service providers must be made answerable “for Internet bootlegging based on the theory of vicarious or contributory infringement liability” (Blunt, 1999). This is because these service providers gain a straight monetary profit from the subscriber fees paid by the online users. Moreover, these providers have a sufficient power over the Internet users as they can stop the accessibility and block the transmissions at any moment. Most notably, the service providers keep an eye on user activities on a regular basis for the purpose of advertising. For that reason, they enjoy the best position to watch over any activities on the Internet that infringe copyright (Blunt, 1999).
The propagation of bootlegged copies of movies also remarkably reduces their performance at box office. As a consequence, the film industry also gets disturb as the viewers watch the movies at home before their release in the cinemas. In addition to financial loss, the bootlegging and piracy devastatingly affects movies or album’s growth and success. It also affects the artists and actors involved. Each time a bootleg is bought, it probably prevents an emerging actor or actress from achieving the anticipated big shot (White, 2008).
Blunt, R. M. (1999). Bootlegs and Imports: Seeking Effective International Enforcement of Copyright Protection for Unauthorized Musical Recordings.Houston Journal of International Law,22(1), 169. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-60377463/bootlegs-and-imports-seeking-effective-international
Brown, A. (1998, February 17). Pirates on the Net Give Stars the Blues; It Mail.Daily Mail, p. 49. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-110686434/pirates-on-the-net-give-stars-the-blues-it-mail
Harris, C. (2002, October 21). Heard on the Street: Napster May Be Dead, but Bootlegging Is Thriving. Newsweek, 1, 70. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-92954335/heard-on-the-street-napster-may-be-dead-but-bootlegging
Pattenden, M. (2003, March 2). Revenge of the Nerds; Fans Are Reediting Music, Films and Books to Create Their Own Masterpieces. Mike Pattenden Reports.The Mail on Sunday, p. 44. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-98618219/revenge-of-the-nerds-fans-are-reediting-music-films
Riley, G. B. (2011). Internet Piracy. Malaysia: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. Print.
White, N. (2008, Winter). Bootlegging Hurts Black Films. The Crisis, 115 (1), 9. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1P3-1428114821/bootlegging-hurts-black-films
Wiest, J. B. (2007). Journal of Information Technology Impact. Journal of Information Technology Impact, 7(2), 91-110. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from http://www.jiti.net/v07/jiti.v7n2.091-110.pdf