“I just didn’t want to pay for it or couldn’t pay for it because it was before I had my own money,” said Johnson. “Teenagers and youth feel like they shouldn’t have to pay and feel like they can get it for free so I don’t think the mindset will change on its own.”
Now, Johnson buys his music from iTunes, but uses sidereel.com— a website that provides links to watch television shows, both legally and illegally — to watch shows he missed. The House of Representatives is trying to prevent the availability of websites — such as those found on sidereel.com— from hosting stolen copies of movies, television shows and music with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
The proposed legislation will shift the burden on credit card companies and service engines to do more policing of copy written content, said Peter DiCola, an associate professor of law at Northwestern University who specializes in copyright law, broadcast regulation and law and economics.
With news reports that Internet powerhouses such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter could blackout its websites to raise awareness about SOPA, talk about the appropriateness of the legislation is increasing.
“We’ve seen the industry try various strategies for limiting illegal downloading,” said Max Dawson, assistant radio, television, film professor at Northwestern University.
Both Dawson and DiCola agree it is nearly impossible to stop illegal downloading of copy written content.
“The media industry is not willing to adjust prices,” Dawson said. “People are going to find ways to get it for free.”
And people will continue to download content free and illegally until file sharing can be controlled, DiCola said.
“When you think about Napster, what happened when it was shut down? Another one was created,” DiCola said.
However, the creation of cheap alternatives such as Netflix and Spotify has attracted consumers.
“I use Netflix because it’s less of a hassle, has a pretty good selection and is not that expensive,” said Kellogg student Srivatsa Marthi. “You can get prosecuted and punished if you download stuff illegally.”
Others agree and say they are worried to illegally download music, movies, and television shows because of viruses.
“I don’t trust them,” said Caitlin Ramsey, a senior in McCormick. “Who knows what you’re downloading with that?”
Downloading music illegally has been a part of the culture for some time now. According to the RIAA, U.S. consumers did not pay for 63 percent of their music in 2009.
But a new culture could be rising. Pandora — an online radio service that more than 100 million Americans have registered to use — provides free music listening with occasional advertisement interruption, according to Pandora’s website.
Similarly Spotify — a new, legal online music streaming service — offers content for free (with advertisements) or without advertisements for $5 or $10 depending on the selected package. Spotify has added over 7 million users since integrating with Facebook in September, according to a Spotify press release on Nov. 30.
“I think it’s great,” said Grace Schwartzenberger, a freshman in the School of Communication from Los Angeles, Calif. “I don’t buy a lot of music because it is expensive.”
Schwartzenberger said she used to use LimeWire when she was 12 or 13, but stopped because she was scared of getting a virus.
“I think Spotify is a lot better,” Schwartzenberger said.