Digital piracy of copyrighted works presents a dire threat to the music industry.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), from 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks;
Frontier Economics recently estimated that U.S. Internet users annually consume between $7 and $20 billion in digitally-pirated music.
Said Carnes, “Because the songwriter and other first-order creators are often the last paid in the chain of copyright payments, this large scale theft affects us the hardest. We are not a large corporation seeking to increase our profit base. We are individual writers seeking to feed our families.”
The SGA works to educate the public about the importance of intellectual property protection and its effect on the music business and creativity. According to the SGA, when artistic creations are stolen rather than purchased, creators cannot be compensated. When creators are not compensated, the quality and diversity of new works is severely reduced. Says Carnes, “We are experiencing this result in the music industry today. The songwriting profession is on the brink of extinction. The beauty and range of American music has suffered greatly. If intellectual property is America's global competitive advantage, and SGA believes it is, then laws must be strengthened to protect this property. Today, the proper level of protection doesn’t exist, but this bill would greatly improve the situation.”
Apologists for Internet piracy have seized on populist rhetoric to mask two things: (1) the economic damage that Internet piracy inflicts on small business persons (such as songwriters and other creators), and (2) the substantial profit that some large organizations can reap from the current disrespect for intellectual property on the Internet. “These same cynics will likely criticize the PROTECT IP Act, but SGA encourages Congress and all music lovers to persevere. Internet piracy is ruining America's competitive advantage and threatening its cultural output. The PROTECT IP Act fights back with some real teeth. SGA strongly encourages its adoption,” said Carnes.